[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/01/16/art.blitzeriowa.cnn.jpg caption=" Blitzer: The Iraqis have a long way to go."] WASHINGTON (CNN) - Fifteen months ago, on Jan. 10, 2007, President Bush addressed the nation from the White House to announce the “surge” in military troops to Iraq. At the time, he also promised that the United States will hold the Iraqi government accountable to a series of “benchmarks” designed to underscore progress toward political stability in the country – the basic goal of the surge.
“A successful strategy for Iraq goes beyond military operations,” the president said.
Since the president again will be addressing the nation Thursday morning from the White House on the situation in Iraq, it’s probably a good idea to assess how have the Iraqis done in meeting those earlier benchmarks?
“To establish its authority,” the president said last year, “the Iraqi government plans to take responsibility in all of Iraq’s provinces by November.”
That goal was November of last year, but that benchmark has still not been met - though Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. military commander, says the Iraqi military has made progress.
“To give every Iraqi citizen a stake in the country’s economy,” he said, “Iraq will pass legislation to share oil revenues among all Iraqis.”
That has not yet happened, though the Iraqis continue to promise it will happen.
“To show that it is committed to delivering a better life, the Iraqi government will spend $10 billion of its own money on reconstruction and infrastructure projects that will create new jobs.”
The Iraqis did allocate that sum but they have not spent it. The Government Accountability Office, in fact, says the Iraqis actually spent only 4.4 percent of that sum. The White House says the Iraqis have spent 24 percent. Either way, they have a long way to go.
“To empower local leaders,” the president said, “Iraqis plan to hold provincial elections later this year.”
That was a reference to last year (2007) and the elections have not yet happened. Now, Iraqi officials say they hope those elections will take place by the end of this year (2008).
“And to allow more Iraqis to re-enter their nation’s political life,” Bush concluded, “the government will reform de-Baathification laws, and establish a fair process for considering amendments to Iraq’s constitution.”
That have been some reforms passed but by all accounts, they have not been effectively implemented.
Clearly, the Iraqis have a long way to go.