The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

Iraq update

June 24, 2008

I haven’t blogged here for awhile, nor have I written anything about Iraq in quite some time. What’s up there, anyway?

First, I recommend Fareed Zakaria’s June 21 assessment in Newsweek. Read the entire piece ASAP.

Next, take a look at the latest word from the bureaucrats paid to keep up with the situation on the ground. Indeed, today’s Post details some news about a pair of recently released U.S. government reports. Journalist Karen DeYoung notes that “In many respects, the two reports seemed to assess wholly different realities.”

The one from the Pentagon (“Measuring Security and Stability in Iraq”) is more optimistic, claiming that “security, political and economic trends in Iraq continue to be positive, although they remain fragile, reversible and uneven.” That’s the good news.

The report from the GAO (“Securing, Stabilizing, and Rebuilding Iraq: Progress Report: Some Gains Made, Updated Strategy Needed”) is more sobering :

While agreeing with the administration that violence has decreased sharply, a report released yesterday by the Government Accountability Office concluded that many other goals Bush outlined a year and a half ago in the “New Way Forward” strategy remain unmet.

Want examples?

The report, after a bleak GAO assessment last summer, cited little improvement in the ability of the Iraqi security forces to act independently of the U.S. military, and noted that key legislation passed by the Iraqi parliament had not been implemented while other crucial laws had not been passed. The report also judged that key Iraqi ministries spent less of their allocated budgets last year than in previous years, and said that oil and electricity production had repeatedly not met U.S. targets.

The entire story (and certainly the reports) contain more detail.

Hat tip: Spencer Ackerman, who has a new home at firedoglake.

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Rodger A. Payne is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Louisville. He serves on the University’s Sustainability Council and was a co-founder of the Peace, Conflict, and Social Justice program. He is the author of dozens of journal articles and book chapters and coauthor, with Nayef Samhat, of Democratizing Global Politics: Discourse Norms, International Regimes, and Political Community (SUNY, 2004). He is currently working on two major projects, one exploring the role of narratives in international politics and the other examining the implications of America First foreign policy.