This is the third in a three-part series.

Part 1, Benchmarks 1 through 6.
Part 2, Benchmarks 7 through 12.

In this post, I complete the list of  eighteen benchmarks given in the Iraq Surge status report of July 15 (and the more important one coming in September) and give them some background.  So you can guess that the next post I have on Iraq will be on the July report itself.  But for now, we can continue to look at those benchmarks on their own terms.  By doing so, we can see what they are supposed to do and how they should relate to Iraq’s domestic government, the Iraq Study Group report, and each other. 

That way we will not have to listen to, or buy into, such scant analysis such as “8 out of 18 benchmarks met”, as if these reports were some kind of toothpaste ad (4 out of 5 dentists) or a kind of breakfast cereal (25% of daily nutritional requirements).  Instead, we can view these Benchmark Reports as a complex set of indicators: showing how we are doing, where we are failing, and how it matters in comparison to the whole picture.

Simplifying so far in this series of benchmarks, the first set of six has to do with legislative acts (and amnesties) uncompleted that will dictate the character and lastingness of the Iraqi state with the borders as we know them. The second set of six benchmarks concentrate upon security affairs.  This third set appears somewhat repetitive, and therefore less intense than the first twelve.  Likewise, these benchmarks are less informed by the Iraq Study Group Report.

In these last six, the first three continue to privilege security matters.  The last three benchmarks return to legislative, reconstruction, and public relations matters in a slightly different venue. 

Benchmark No. 13: Reducing sectarian violence
Reducing the level of sectarian violence in Iraq and eliminating militia control of local security.
♦ Sphere: Security, political, mostly law enforcement branch.
♦ Relationship to Iraq Study Group Report: none specified; goes with 38, 39.

♦ Why is this a benchmark?  This benchmark refers back to benchmark No. 7, which is militia disarmament.  It also includes more on creating an Iraqi police force, and a regulatory function by the national government (perhaps related to provinces, later, when constitution is worked out) to inspect and certify the effectiveness of local precinct operations for effectiveness.
♦ Supporting documents:
Global, Iraqi Police Service
Insurgency, Civilian Police, and Iraq Reconstruction.  by Deflem & Sutphin, (November 2006) article in Sociological Focus available here or in hard-to-read pdf (Better for printing, though: it’s just sideways). History of IPS and casualties.

Benchmark No. 14: Neighborhood watch
Establishing all of the planned joint security stations in neighborhoods across Baghdad.
♦ Sphere: Security, especially neighborhood security, which reinforces Benchmark No. 13 above. 
♦ Relationship to Iraq Study Group Report: see No. 13 above.

♦ Why is this a benchmark?  Because only local commitment and local access will counter the power of militias in establishing order.  Militias “own” neighborhoods but are sectarian; a non-sectarian, relentlessly local police force bound by impartial application of the law is the only countermeasure that will allow neighborhoods to turn away from militias to solve disputes and provide security.
♦ Supporting documents:  See No. 13 above.

Benchmark No. 15: Security independence
Increasing the number of Iraqi security forces units capable of operating independently.
♦ Sphere: Security, both ground forces and Ministry of Interior need personnel and training.
♦ Relationship to Iraq Study Group Report: Not directly cited; much as Benchmark No. 9., which relates to Suggestions 20, 21, 25, but also 42; and 43 (for U.S.).

♦ Why is this a benchmark?  As in Benchmark 9: can’t go until the Iraqi government has capability, personnel, and that personnel is trained properly.
♦ Supporting documents: none in particular; many news reports.

Benchmark No. 16: Minorities as important as majorities
Ensuring that the rights of minority political parties in the legislature are protected. 
♦ Sphere: Political, especially legislature.  Relates as one component of Benchmrak No. 1, which is constitutional reform, and all measures designed to diminish sectarian violence and politics.
♦ Relationship to Iraq Study Group Report:

♦ Why is this a benchmark?  This goal is implicit in the legislative measures already described in Benchmarks 1 through 6: constitutional reform.  As long as minorities are not heard in political venues, they can be spoilers in security matters.
♦ Supporting documents:  none at present.

Benchmark No. 17: Reconstruction efforts
Allocating and spending USD 10 billion in Iraqi revenues for reconstruction projects, including delivery of essential services, on an equitable basis.
♦ Sphere: Political-economic.  Economy, all segments.  Political, especially executive and legislative branches, government ministries, and when provincial and regional governments are completed and have authority, their executive and legislative branches as well. 
♦ Relationship to Iraq Study Group Report: no clear correlation to Iraq, although the ISG has lots of recommendations for U.S. aid.

♦ Why is this a benchmark?  Last year, Iraq only spent 22% of its budget on reconstruction.  Just as the Government of Iraq has not purchased military equipment and supplies under Benchmark No. 10, it has also not funded new social services or economic aid; nor has it revitalized utility grids (although the U.S. military has certainly tried, in very specific attempts to do so.) or other support infrastructure we all consider necessary to state-building.  The provision of security is the first necessary requirement in Iraq, but there is more than one kind of security that people expect from government.  If the government does not provide at least a minimal number of these expected securities, it has no meaning or relevance within its territory, and hence, no reason for being.
♦ Supporting documents:
GAO, July 2005–Funding Iraq: Status of Funding/Reconstruction
GAO, January 2007–Key Issues for Funding Iraq Reconstruction

Loose Lips Sink ShipsBenchmark No. 18: National unity, part one of one million
Ensuring that Iraq’s political authorities are not ndermining or making false accusations against members of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF).
♦ Sphere: Security, media, politicians, sectarianists of all types
♦ Relationship to Iraq Study Group Report: none, it was based upon events

♦ Why is this a benchmark?  This benchmark is related to the political and media aspects of Benchmark No. 8, non-military support of security goals.  Apparently it needs to be revisited, for two reasons: first, this specifies talking badly about the Iraq Security forces; and second, because there have been specific, non-verifiable reports, possibly propaganda, that tends to diminish the legitimacy of Iraq’s various security personnel and their ability to implement Benchmarks 9, 10, and 11. (Developing a national military, enabling it–insisting that it act in non-sectarian manner).
♦ Supporting documents:
February 21, 2007, International Herald Tribune, Rape accusations held false by Iraqi government–remember this?  Nobody knew what to do with this then, and we still don’t.

World War II Poster: