Senate Democrats

Bush Administration Moving the Goal Posts

Bush Administration has moved the goal posts on the length of the escalation. From General David Petraeus today:

The result has been progress in the security area, although it has, as you know, been uneven. …We are, in short, a long way from the goal line, but we do have the ball and we are driving down the field.

The surge was supposed to be temporary:

Secretary Gates Said the Surge Was to Be Temporary. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he doesn’t know how long an increase in troop levels in Iraq will last. “It’s viewed as a temporary surge, but I think no one has a really clear idea of how long that might be,” Gates said at a news conference. [CNN Transcripts, 1/11/07]

Secretary Gates Said the Surge Was To Last a Matter of Months, Not 18 Months or Two Years. GATES: “I don’t think anybody has a definite idea about how long the surge would last. I think for most of us in the — in our minds, we’re thinking of it as a matter of months, not 18 months or two years. We clearly will know, as I indicated, I think, within a couple of months or so, whether this strategy is, in fact, beginning to bear fruit. It’s going to take a while.” [CNN Transcripts, 1/11/07]

… Now it could last 20 months:

General Petraeus Will Recommend that Decisions on Troop Withdrawals Wait Until March 2008. “The top American commander in Iraq, Gen. David H. Petraeus, has recommended that decisions on the contentious issue of reducing the main body of the American troops in Iraq be put off for six months, American officials said Sunday. General Petraeus, whose long-awaited testimony before Congress will begin Monday, has informed President Bush that troop cuts may begin in mid-December, with the withdrawal of one of the 20 American combat brigades in Iraq, about 4,000 troops. By August, the American force in Iraq would be down to 15 combat brigades, the force level before Mr. Bush’s troop reinforcement plan.” [New York Times, 9/10/07]

The goal of the surge was to provide breathing room for national reconciliation:

President Bush Said National Reconciliation Was Essential to Lasting Security and Stability in Iraq. “The strategy I announced in January is designed to seize the initiative and create those conditions. It’s aimed at helping the Iraqis strengthen their government so that it can function even amid violence. It seeks to open space for Iraq’s political leaders to advance the difficult process of national reconciliation, which is essential to lasting security and stability.” [President Bush Press Conference, 7/12/07]

On the Surge, Petraeus Said its Objective Was to Provide Iraq’s National Government Time to Reach a Reconciliation. “Whatever the approach, though, the objective will be to achieve sufficient security to provide the space and time for the Iraqi government to come to grips with the tough decisions its members must make to enable Iraq to move forward.” [Senate Confirmation Hearing, 1/23/07]

Now the White House claims the surge is succeeding because of "bottom up" progress in Anbar:

President Bush Asserted that the Modest Improvement in Security Situation in Anbar Province Showed the Escalation was Working……. In his remarks to the troops on Monday, President Bush said, “In Anbar you’re seeing firsthand the dramatic differences that can come when the Iraqis are more secure.  In other words, you’re seeing success. You see Sunnis who once fought side by side with Al Qaeda against coalition troops now fighting side by side with coalition troops against Al Qaeda. Anbar is a huge province.  It was once written off as lost.  It is now one of the safest places in Iraq. [Speech by President Bush to Troops, 9/3/07]

The Bush Administration has moved the goal post on when we would be able to assess the escalation. Results of the surge would be clear by early summer:

Secretary Gates Said We Would Know if the Surge Was Working Early On, Before All the Surge Troops Arrived in Iraq. “I want you to know that the timetable for the introduction of additional U.S. forces will provide ample opportunity early on, and before many of the additional U.S. troops arrive in Iraq, to evaluate the progress of this endeavor and whether the Iraqis are fulfilling their commitments to us.” [Testimony of Secretary Gates to the Senate Armed Services Committee, 1/12/07]

Then in September:

Secretary Gates Said He Would Be Able to Evaluate If the Escalation Is Working in September.  “Well, first of all, I think that it’s very important to underscore that General Petraeus has said that he and Ambassador Crocker will make their evaluation of the situation and the surge in September, probably earlier rather than later in September. And that’s the evaluation that the president and I and the chairman will be looking for. [Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, 5/9/07]

Then in November:

Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno Said It Would Take Until At Least November To Judge If Escalation Was Working. “Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the No. 2 commander in Iraq, told Pentagon reporters that while he would provide the mid-September assessment of the new military strategy that Congress has required, it would take “at least until November” to judge with confidence whether the strategy was working.” [New York Times, 7/20/07]

Now the Administration wants to wait until March to assess the surge:

General Petraeus Wanted to Wait Until March to Present Recommendations on Reducing Troops in Iraq “The precise timing of such reductions, which would leave about 130,000 troops in Iraq, could vary, depending on conditions in the country. But the general has also said that it is too soon to present recommendations on reducing American forces below that level because the situation in Iraq is in flux. He has suggested that he wait until March to outline proposals on that question.” [New York Times, 9/10/07]

The Bush Administration has moved the goal posts on the security goals of the escalation. The escalation was focused on securing Baghdad:

President Bush Said New Strategy in Iraq Would Focus on Securing Baghdad. “The most urgent priority for success in Iraq is security, especially in Baghdad …So America will change our strategy to help the Iraqis carry out their campaign to put down sectarian violence and bring security to the people of Baghdad. This will require increasing American force levels. So I’ve committed more than 20,000 additional American troops to Iraq. The vast majority of them — five brigades — will be deployed to Baghdad.” [President Bush Speech, 1/10/07]

Now the White House claims the surge is succeeding because of security gains in Anbar:

President Bush Asserted that the Modest Improvement in Security Situation in Anbar Province Showed the Escalation was Working. In his remarks to the troops in Anbar, President Bush said, “In Anbar you’re seeing firsthand the dramatic differences that can come when the Iraqis are more secure.  In other words, you’re seeing success. You see Sunnis who once fought side by side with Al Qaeda against coalition troops now fighting side by side with coalition troops against Al Qaeda. Anbar is a huge province.  It was once written off as lost.  It is now one of the safest places in Iraq. [Speech by President Bush, 9/3/07]

The Bush Administration has moved the goal posts on holding Iraqis responsible for benchmarks: The Administration said it would hold Iraqis responsible for meeting benchmarks:

President Bush Announced U.S. Would Hold Iraqis Responsible for Meeting Benchmarks. “A successful strategy for Iraq goes beyond military operations. Ordinary Iraqi citizens must see that military operations are accompanied by visible improvements in their neighborhoods and communities. So America will hold the Iraqi government to the benchmarks it has announced.” [President Bush Speech, 1/10/07]

But Ambassador Crocker said today progress could not be judged through benchmarks:

Ambassador Crocker Said Political Progress Are Not Measured by Benchmarks. “Some of the more promising political developments at the national level are neither measured in benchmarks nor visible to those far from Baghdad.” [Ambassador Crocker Testimony to House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees, 9/10/07]

Lastly, the Bush Administration has moved the goal posts on measuring succes in Iraq. White House report found Iraqis had made satisfactory progress on less than half of benchnmarks:

White House Assessment Found Satisfactory Progress Towards Just 8 of 18 Benchmarks. “A widely anticipated White House report on Iraq, set for release today, argues that the Baghdad government has made "satisfactory" progress toward nearly half of the political and military goals sought by Congress, while acknowledging that an equal number remain "not satisfactory," an administration official said yesterday. The report, ordered by lawmakers as an interim assessment of President Bush’s troop-increase strategy, identifies some positive movement in eight of the 18 congressional benchmarks, most of them related to military issues; finds insufficient improvement in eight others, mainly related to political reconciliation; and judges mixed results in the final two, the official said.” [Washington Post, 7/12/07]

  • GAO Found Iraqis Had Met Just 2 of the 9 Security Benchmarks. “Our analysis shows that the Iraqi government has met two of the nine security benchmarks.” While the Iraqi government “has established political, communications, economic, and services committees in support of the Baghdad security plan and, with substantial coalition assistance, 32 of the planned 34 Joint Security Stations across Baghdad. Of the remaining 7 benchmarks, the Iraqi government partially met 2 and did not meet five.” The five benchmarks met are, 1) Reducing the level of sectarian violence in Iraq and eliminating militia control of local security. 2) Providing Iraqi commanders with all authorities to execute this plan and to make tactical and operational decisions, in consultation with U.S. commanders, without political intervention, to include the authority to pursue all extremists, including Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias. 3) Ensuring that Iraqi security forces are providing even-handed enforcement of the law. 4) Increasing the number of Iraqi security forces’ units capable of operating independently. 5) Ensuring that Iraq’s political authorities are not undermining or making false accusations against members of the Iraqi security forces. [GAO Report: Securing, Stabilizing and Rebuilding Iraq, September 2007]

But General Petraeus said military objectives are being met based on declines in incidents in 8 of the last 12 weeks:

General Petraeus Said Military Objectives of the Surge Are Being Met. “As a bottom line up front, the military objectives of the surge are, in large measure, being met. In recent months, in the face of tough enemies and the brutal summer heat of Iraq, Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces have achieved progress in the security arena. Though the improvements have been uneven across Iraq, the overall number of security incidents in Iraq has declined in 8 of the past 12 weeks, with the numbers of incidents in the last two weeks at the lowest levels seen since June 2006.” [General Petraeus Testimony to House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees, 9/10/07]

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