As expected, the all-night debate in the Senate failed to push a preemptive bill forward that would require the beginning of troop withdrawals in only three months. A vote of 52-46 was not enough to achieve the supermajority necessary to push the bill through to a final vote of approval, but Senate majority leader Harry Reid didn’t seem too upset about that. The primary purpose of the debate was to raise awareness of public dissatisfaction with the progress of the war in Iraq and (perhaps Republicans are right) to raise awareness of how very receptive Democratic Congressmen are to this dissatisfaction. Nevertheless, the Senate has decided to respect Bush’s desire to wait until General Petraeus’ report in the beginning of September, on the progress of the 18 Benchmarks Of Progress assigned by the White House.
Oh, except that yesterday one of General Petraeus’ top aids told Congressmen that military commanders in Iraq will probably need until November before any kind of reliable report can be delivered. This information came after an interview with the top U.S. diplomat in Baghdad, David Crocker, with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in which he expressed a lack of confidence in the 18 Benchmarks. The benchmarks, he said, “do not serve as reliable measures of everything that is important – Iraqi attitudes toward each other and their willingness to work toward political reconciliation.” He said that more progress might be made if smaller goals are set, like restoring electricity in neighborhoods and establishing medical centers (Colbert: I smell un-Americaniness!).
At any rate, of course more time is needed in Iraq if any real progress is going to be assessed, much less made. Is the problem that America doesn’t have the resources to restore Iraq to the status of a self-governing nation, or that this administration’s policy remains persistently “Bring ’em on!” while the majority of Iraqis just want electricity and basic health care?
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