Home / International / International -- Opinion Tools: Save | Print | E-mail | Most Read
Iraq 'Failure' Report to Hasten Bush's What to Do Next Count
Adjust font size:

A progress report on Iraq will conclude that the US-backed government in Baghdad has not met any of its targets for political, economic and other reforms, speeding up the Bush administration's reckoning on what to do next, a US official said on Monday.

The "pivot point" for addressing the matter will no longer be September 15, as initially envisioned, when a full report on George W. Bush's so-called surge plan is due, but instead will come this week when the interim mid-July assessment is released, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the draft is still under discussion.

But another senior official said Bush's advisors, along with the president, decided last week there was not enough evidence from Iraq to justify a change now in current policy.

They had launched discussions about how to react to the erosion of support for the president's Iraq approach among prominent Republicans, the second official said, and the debate was part of a broader search for a way out of a US combat presence in Iraq by the end of Bush's presidency.

The decision was to wait for the September report - one originally proposed by Defense Secretary Robert Gates and other administration officials, and then enshrined into law by Congress - before deciding whether any course shift is warranted, the second official said. He too spoke on condition of anonymity so he could talk more freely about internal deliberations.

The July report, required by law, is expected to be delivered to Capitol Hill by Thursday or Friday, as the Senate takes up a US$649-billion defense policy bill and votes on a Democratic amendment ordering troop withdrawals to begin in 120 days.

The second official said the report "will present a picture of satisfactory progress on some benchmarks and not on others".

Also being drafted are several Republican-backed proposals that would force a new course in Iraq, including one by Senators Susan Collins (Republican from Maine), and Ben Nelson (Democrat from Nebraska), which would require US troops to abandon combat missions. Collins and Nelson say their binding amendment would order the US mission to focus on training the Iraqi security forces, targeting al-Qaida members and protecting Iraq's borders.

"My goal is to redefine the mission and set the stage for a significant but gradual 'drawdown' of our troops next year," said Collins.

Republican Party support for the war has eroded steadily since Bush's decision in January to send some 30,000 additional troops to Iraq. At the time, Bush said the Iraqis agreed to meet certain benchmarks, such as enacting a law to divide the nation's oil reserves.

This spring, Congress agreed to continue funding the war through September but demanded that Bush certify on July 15 and again on September 15 that the Iraqis were living up to their political promises or forgo US aid dollars.

The first official said it is highly unlikely that Bush will withhold or suspend aid to the Iraqis based on the report.

A draft version of the administration's progress report was circulated among various government agencies in Washington on Monday, the day White House Press Secretary Tony Snow tried to lower expectations on the report. His contention is that the additional troops had just got in place and it would be unrealistic to expect major progress by now.

"You are not going to expect all the benchmarks to be met at the beginning of something," Snow said. "I'm not sure everyone's going to get an 'A' on the first report."

In recent weeks, the White House has tried to shore up eroding GOP support for the war.

Collins and five other Republican senators - Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, Robert Bennett of Utah, John Sununu of New Hampshire and Pete Domenici of New Mexico - support separate legislation calling on Bush to adopt as US policy recommendations by the Iraq Study Group, which identified a potential redeployment date of spring 2008.

Several Republican stalwarts, including Senators Ted Stevens of Alaska, Christopher Bond of Missouri, Jon Kyl of Arizona and James Inhofe of Oklahoma, said they still supported Bush's Iraq strategy.

Kyl said he would try to focus this week's debate on preserving vital anti-terrorism programs, including the detention of terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. The defense bill is on track to expand the legal rights of those held in the military prison, and many Democrats want to propose legislation that would shut the facility.
(China Daily via agencies July 11, 2007)

Tools: Save | Print | E-mail | Most Read

Related Stories
No Debate About Leaving Iraq, Says White House
Key Republican Senator Breaks with Bush on Iraq
Iraqi PM Criticizes US Raid on Baghdad's Shiite Suburb
US Public Support for Iraq War Falls to New Low
Bush Prompts Iraqi Leaders to Make Political Progress
Democrats Drop Iraqi Withdrawal Timeline in War Funding Bill
> Korean Nuclear Talks
> Middle East Peace Process
> Iran Nuclear Issue
> Reconstruction of Iraq
> 6th SCO Summit Meeting
- China Development Gateway
- Foreign Ministry
- Network of East Asian Think-Tanks
- China-EU Association
- China-Africa Business Council
- China Foreign Affairs University
- University of International Relations
- Institute of World Economics & Politics
- Institute of Russian, East European & Central Asian Studies
- Institute of West Asian & African Studies
- Institute of Latin American Studies
- Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies
- Institute of Japanese Studies
SiteMap | About Us | RSS | Newsletter | Feedback
Copyright © China.org.cn. All Rights Reserved E-mail: webmaster@china.org.cn Tel: 86-10-88828000 京ICP证 040089号