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March 09, 2008

Five Out of Eleven
Posted by Ilan Goldenberg

Oh, I love it when Mike O’Hanlon is in the NY Times

The most intriguing area of late is the sphere of politics. To track progress, we have established “Brookings benchmarks” — a set of goals on the political front similar to the broader benchmarks set for Baghdad by Congress last year. Our 11 benchmarks include establishing provincial election laws, reaching an oil-revenue sharing accord, enacting pension and amnesty laws, passing annual federal budgets, hiring Sunni volunteers into the security forces, holding a fair referendum on the disputed northern oil city of Kirkuk, and purging extremists from government ministries and security forces.

At the moment, we give the Iraqis a score of 5 out of 11 (our system allows a score of 0, 0.5, or 1 for each category, and is dynamic, meaning we can subtract points for backsliding). It is far too soon to predict that Iraq is headed for stability or sectarian reconciliation. But it is also clear that those who assert that its politics are totally broken have not kept up with the news.

Here’s the best thing about this.  There is no way to refute it because his scoring isn’t up anywhere.  It’s not in the Iraq Index and the closest thing he has is an A, B, C grading system from a month and a half ago.  So, five out of eleven it is because that’s what Mike O’Hanlon tells me it is. 

On another note.  If I was reading the news I’d probably know that: there has been some terrible violence in Baghdad over the past week; Sunni leaders of the Awakening are still threatening the Sunni Green zone politicians; the Iraqi national government is still not integrating enough Sunnis into the Shi’a security forces; and right now we are sitting on a tenuous set of ceasefires that at some point or another is likely to explode. 

But again.  5 out of 11.  Because that’s what Michael O’Hanlon says.

Update: Ackerman and Yglesias have more.  And it's funny.


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In my classes, 5 out of 11 would still be a failing grade.

And only 12 out of 165,000+ American soldiers have died in the last 3 days.

Is that a good score?

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