In his speech to the nation on Wednesday, Bush laid out yet another series of benchmarks - not for himself, of course, but for the Iraqi government - claiming that "America will hold the Iraqi government to the benchmarks it has announced."
But let's look at the Bush administration's history when it comes to holding the Iraqi government accountable. Democratic Senator Carl Levin had this to say to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates about the track record of the Iraqi government in meeting past benchmarks:
Iraqi President Talibani said in August 2006 that Iraqi forces would "take over security in all Iraqi provinces by the end of 2006." That pledge has not been kept.
Prime Minister Maliki said last June that he would disband the militias and illegal armed groups as part of his national reconciliation plan, and in October he set the timetable for disbanding the militias as the end of 2006. That commitment has not been kept.
The Iraqi Constitutional Review Commission was to present its recommendations for changes in the Constitution to the Council of Representatives within four months of the formation of the Government last May. The Commission has yet to formulate any recommendations.
Prime Minister Maliki put forward a series of reconciliation milestones to be completed by the end of 2006 or early 2007, including approval of the Provincial Election Law, the Petroleum Law, a new De-Baathification Law, and the Militia Law. Not one of these laws has been enacted.
The Iraqi army pledged six battalions in support of American and Coalition efforts during Operation Forward Together last summer. In fact, Iraqis provided only two battalions.
In response, Secretary Gates attempted to defend the use of the same failed policies by arguing it was different this time because "they really do seem to be eager to take control of this security."
President Bush, May 1, 2006: "They said [Iraqi leaders] were optimistic people, that they're full of energy and they're very eager to succeed."
It's the same thing all over again ...