Thursday, June 15, 2006

What Is A Good Yardstick For Success In Iraq?

Answer? The W, Rove and Co. hasn't a clue:
Q On the measure of success in Iraq, the President has been focusing on other fronts -- I mean, political progress, energy, electricity. How much does reducing the level of violence and the strength of the insurgency remain an important part of that, or have we gotten to a point where even this level of violence might just be a reality, and success could be declared if there's progress in other ways?

MR. SNOW: Well, David, I think at this point -- clearly, the government in Iraq is not satisfied. That's why you've got Operation Forward Together, which began yesterday, that involves the deployment of roughly 50,000 Iraqi police and army forces within five different areas of Baghdad and 7,200 coalition forces, as well.

What the President has said is you can't -- if you want an absence of violence to be your benchmark, you'll never get there because it allows the terrorists to define success or failure by a simple act of violence. But on the other hand, I don't think anybody takes -- wants to take for granted the kind of violence we have right now. The question a lot of you have raised about a President having to go in the way we went into Baghdad the other day, that obviously is not -- what you want is an end state, that's not what you would accept.

The problem with trying to come up with a measure, it's a very difficult thing to come up with a proper metric for that. I mean, if you start taking a look at murder rates in major American cities, people would say, it's scary to be there. But it's -- this is a different situation. You have random violence where Americans are going to be targeted and members of the Iraqi government and people who are on the side of the democracy, and I think, obviously, that is a real concern.

What the President was talking about is -- and this gets to David's questions earlier -- is you have violence. You also have people saying, well, what about the other part of the picture? And I think one of the things that we will have to be measured by -- the efforts will have to be measured by is progress in those humanitarian areas. You know, what does happen with electricity? If electricity doesn't improve, that's bad. If you don't have oil production improving, that's going to be bad -- if you don't have sanitation and water.

So those are at least easier to measure benchmarks than sort of a violence standard. But is violence -- the present level of violence acceptable? Of course not.

Q Thank you.

MR. SNOW: Okay, thank you.
So, what exactly does standing up and standing down mean other than nice rhetoric to deflect the curiousity of a growing pissed off American people? The title of this post may make a good dialog for those in the blogisphere interested in bringing the troops home at some point. How do we know when the time is right?

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