Thursday, August 30, 2007

Don't Fail Them at the Midterm Exam

The September reports are likely to show failures of the Iraqi government to meet certain benchmarks that Congress wants completed to show progress (or less charitably, Congress wants failures to justify retreating).

The Iraqi government is warning against prematurely declaring failure:

"The whole world is waiting anxiously to see what this report will indicate," Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told reporters. "I personally believe that this report would not provide any magical solutions or provide any instant answers to the difficulties and challenges we are going through."

The surge is in its early stage. It was never intended to win by September 2007. The surge was intended to change the vector in Iraq with new troops and--more importantly--new operational assumptions.

The September report should tell us if we've changed the vector.

Later assessments will tell us if the new direction will hold when the surge recedes.

Ultimately, we'll have to figure out when the direction is solid enough to draw down from pre-surge levels.

We have many months before the final exam is given. Let our people and the Iraqis get back to work.