Note: Last week, I examined each of the eighteen benchmarks which the Bush Administration is using to document the effectiveness of The Surge, on its own terms and in its own words.  I re-organized these benchmarks and have been analyzing the results noted in July’s report and trying to form a basis for analyzing progress for September’s progress.  
Links for fast access to this
Iraq Primer:
Benchmarks 1-6 — Benchmarks 7-12 — Benchmarks 13-18.
Links for access to July Benchmark Report review: Overview — Politics/Amnesty — Oil Law/Reconstruction.

Quite appropriately, there are more security benchmarks than any other: 10 out of 18.  Benchmarks 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, and 18.  Many of them build upon each other, so rather than separate them by benchmark, I am going to group them according to the initiatives they represent. 

Political-Security Benchmarks:
No. 8: Establishing institutions in support of the Baghdad Security Plan, including media support;
No. 10: Providing Iraq commanders with the authority to execute plans without political intervention; and
No 18: Ensuring that Iraq’s political authorities are not undermining Iraq security forces or making false accusation against ISF.

Two comments only: first, number 8 should of course extend past Baghdad; and number 18 should extend past the ISF, especially in the matter of de-Ba’athification reform and other hot issues.  Factions should keep people informed, but instead of talking poorly about opposing factions, they should state these within a framewok of future cooperation.  Of course, we don’t do that where I live, either.  But it would be an improvement.

Security Benchmarks:
Security in the hands of the state:
No. 7: Militia disarmament, and
No. 13: Reducing sectarian violence.

State able to provide security:
No 9: Developing national military to support Baghdad operations.
No. 11: Ensure that Iraq security forces provide even-handed law enforcement.
No 14; Setting up local joint security stations (JSS) across Baghdad
No  15: Increase number of ISF able to act independently.

The Ultimate Benchmark:
No. 12: Ensuring that Iraq does not become a safe haven for terrorism.

For people tracking the Benchmark report, it should be remembered that number 12 matches most closely the only legitimizing reason we had for going into Iraq.  While it might not have been true then, it is the dangerous security situation that most nearly approximates it.  It furthermore defines the U.S. interest most succinctly.  Last of all, it is the underlying question of morality for a withdrawal.  If the U.S. withdraws without guaranteeing at least this much, Iraqi citizens and Iraq’s neighbors will be plunged into catastrophe: unremitting hell with no signs of relief.

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