April 9th, 2008
03:10 PM ET
13 years ago

Blitzer: What happened to the Iraq "benchmarks"?

[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.

Filed under: Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (56 Responses)
  1. Cal

    OMG cheryl used honest and hilary in the same sentence, is that even legal.

    Haha you still believe hilary is "honest" well i guess compared to a habitual liar shes fairly honest.

    April 9, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  2. Dori in AZ

    Maybe, to Pres. Bush, "benchmarks" equate only to "talking points." Another missing piece to this whole mess is a "hallmark." Something we can stand together and agree that we can be proud of having achieved it.

    In some ways, the Iraq War is like a more powerful and pathetic version of the infantry battle on Hill 937 in May of 1969. When will we learn from our history?

    Si se puede! Obama 2008!

    April 9, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  3. Cal

    you spammed this page 3x, haha i wouldnt vote for hilary it was between her and a robot who promised to kill all humans.

    April 9, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  4. Garry

    we should pull out let the region explode then when nobodies left to fight we go get the oil we went to get in the first place

    April 9, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  5. Hippies Unite

    Why don't we just surrender Wolf. Afterall it's taken us over 200 years and we still don't have a perfect system. Let's bag it because Iraq hasn't come together in about two years.

    This is the far-left liberal mentality of surrender that last reared its ugly head in Vietnam...and we all know how the Dems did on that one.

    Weak on defense and pro tax...that's the Dems mantra and it is proving true again today.

    McCain wins 40 states and Wolf continues to anchor news on a station that is getting slaughtered by FOX in the ratings.

    April 9, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  6. demwit

    A goal and a promise are two different things....., ain't they Wolfy??

    April 9, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  7. Walter, Long Beach


    If you get the chance, please ask our political and military leaders to complete this sentence:

    "Our troops in Iraq can come home when they..."

    If there is no concrete and specific answer to that question, then there is no such thing as a military victory in Iraq.

    And if that is the case, our troops should not continue to be held hostage to the political intransigence of Iraq's factional leaders.

    April 9, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  8. Stacy Clarks,

    Like anyone really believes Bush anymore!

    America is growing poor while Iraqis are growing rich at the expense of people's lives!! and so the vice president's company can gain money

    shame on Bush...he is the most UNAMERICAN person living in this country!!!

    OBAMA 08!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 9, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  9. Michael

    Cheryl, stop shouting.......and I believe Mdm. Senator Clinton voted to authorize this boondoggle. I don't know the best way out, but it's clear that whichever Democratic candidate wins the nomination will get my vote as effectively maintaining the status quo...which is what a McCain administration would do...is insane.

    April 9, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  10. David In Des Moines

    What! Are you insane?

    Hillary is the biggest liar next to her husband Bill.

    We all know you so-called Democrats who support Hillary are blind to the truth! I use to support her but, I watched her campaign and it made me sick. A lot of you Hillary people are sounding like the Bush supporters of 2000 & 2004.

    Support your Country please.

    April 9, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  11. RealityKing

    Funny how our do nothing 110th Congress continues to set a higher standard for the Iraqi government that they do for themselves..

    April 9, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  12. balthus

    The benchmarks? They're buried right next to the 4000 service men and women who have died fighting the Bush/McCain war for oil.

    April 9, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  13. Errol Quintal, Sr.

    What is more valuable, the continuing tremendous lost of lives in Iraq or the environmental issues that interfere with drilling for oil in and around oil rich areas of America ?

    Let's not deceive ourselves. Until we are able to substitute oil with innovative, safe and energy efficient resources, we should drill.

    Let's stop the killing. Let's stop the pain.


    April 9, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  14. Bill

    Wow.. what are you idiots going to do when Bush is out of office? Who ya gonna bash then? You won't know what to do with yourselves.

    I mean, good God... quit yer whining.

    April 9, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  15. Texan

    Why can't the Iraq government hire Blackwater? I'm sure they would be happy to provide security for the civil war!

    April 9, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  16. Bill

    By the way - how is it that you message board posters seem to know so much more than the people who are ON THE GROUND IN IRAQ?? Ah yes... I'm going to take the word of some person posting on a CNN message board over that of a 4 star general in the Army. lol

    How bout you folks plan a trip and see Iraq for yourself, then report back to us - or shut the heck up.

    April 9, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  17. Scott

    Wolf, I can't seem to respond to the latest posts from the political page.
    It seems that every time I go to the cnn political website, there is a picture of Hillary. There seems to be a lot of press surrounding her, and cnn seems to focus on whatever she does and says. Could you write a piece on this... are we seeing the personal positions of the reporters? or am I seeing it improperly. It seems to be Hillary first at cnn.com, and the unfortunate thing is that Obama has a 90% chance of being the Nominee. This seems to be the main story, not Hillary. Please help us understand if there is a bias or why. I think this would be a fantastic story.

    April 9, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  18. Joe B

    Brian G in Sugar Land.... more like Fantasy Land!!

    To say someone is intellectually incapable of democracy and freedom is exactly what I expect from liberal elitism! Thank goodness George, Ben, Thomas, John and others didn't think that way 200+ years ago.

    God help us if you don't know who I'm talking about.

    April 9, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  19. Don

    Benchmarks were just one more smoke screen from the Bush Whitehouse. It just bought him a little more time so that he can pawn off the job to the next unlucky ( hopefully Demo) to take office. It's all just a game with him, he gets to play the head of the govenment role without taking any of the blame. Hey W, mission accomplished again!

    April 9, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  20. Don

    Where I work, benchmarks are reviewed continuously. Ghee, should we have seen this coming?

    April 9, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  21. Hippies Unite

    When Bush is out of office the Dems will still blame him for their own shortcomings.

    Do any of Obama-Bots or Hill-Losers honestly think your candidate will withdrawal from Iraq before the country is stable? Please. These two candidates...Tweedle-Dumb and Tweedle-Dumber...will tell you lemmings anything you want to hear to get your vote. Then, they'll say they can't pull-out of Iraq because Bush screwed it up.

    I have to laugh everytime Dumb and Dumber speak because while they say one thing, their advisors are back-door saying another. NAFTA and Canada??? Columbia trade deal???

    You lemmings just follow these two off a cliff. They'll and you'll continue to blame Bush.

    April 9, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  22. kathleen retired Professional w/woman for obama

    Wolf, I like you. You should be the President of the United States.
    You, of all people, have learned thru 8 years of a total disaster, the
    way not to do things. Now is this a mess, or what??

    Obama from Day 1 or No One Else.

    Hannity is a jerk. So is Rush Limbaughand Carl Rove.
    I hope they are done when Obama wins the election.

    April 9, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  23. mary

    When the Democrats got control they were suppose to so something, what happen????

    April 9, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  24. henrie alabama


    April 9, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  25. AJ, IL


    You should be posting this question to CNN's political reporters, and getting an answer to report on your show THE SITUATION ROOM!

    April 9, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
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