Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Language and the 18 benchmarks

Here's a link containing the language of the 18 "benchmarks" included in the recent Iraq Supplemental Bill HR 2206

Of the 18, most are not readily amenable to quantification. The short list below are 5 of the more quantifiable targets contained in these benchmarks.

More on this in future posts. For now, the supplemental bill appears to fall afoul of the same language difficulties we have been noting in various articles from around the web - namely mushy metrics, imprecise or missing quantification. If this is the document that is going to guide our evaluation of how things are really going in Iraq, we are in deep trouble as it appears to be structured in ways that are likely to defy exactly that process.

3) equitable distribution of hydrocarbon resources

9) Providing three trained and ready Iraqi brigades to support Baghdad operations.

13) Reducing the level of sectarian violence in Iraq and eliminating militia control of local security.

14) Establishing all of the planned joint security stations in neighborhoods across Baghdad.

15) Increasing the number of Iraqi security forces units capable of operating independently.

17) Allocating and spending $10 billion in Iraqi revenues for reconstruction projects, including delivery of essential services, on an equitable basis.

However, these 5 are amenable to quantification and we could begin now (rather than waiting till September) to make these specifics, to measure them regularly, and to report on them in a way that will be easily accessible to all.

When you look at the full text of benchmarks and at the required reporting standards and timing, it's noteworthy that there are no explicit benchmarks for what the United States is required to do in this time frame. Clearly the situation in Iraq will be dependent both on what the Iraqi government does and what the United States does, but this particular bill places all the responsibility on Iraqi shoulders.

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