Two Words on Iraq:
[T]he Bush administration has lowered its expectation of quickly achieving major steps toward unifying the country, including passage of a long-stymied plan to share oil revenues and holding regional elections…they are focusing their immediate efforts on several more limited but achievable goals in the hope of convincing Iraqis, foreign governments and Americans that progress is being made toward the political breakthroughs that the military campaign of the past 10 months was supposed to promote…intense American efforts to promote broader reconciliation have proved largely fruitless.
There have been signs that American influence over Iraqi politics is dwindling after the recent improvements in security — which remain incomplete, as shown by a deadly bombing Friday in Baghdad. While Bush officials once said they aimed to secure “reconciliation” among Iraq’s deeply divided religious, ethnic and sectarian groups, some officials now refer to their goal as “accommodation.”
The troop increase at the beginning of the year was intended to create the conditions to improve Iraq’s political stability, measured by so-called benchmarks, including a broad agreement on sharing oil revenues.
But those benchmarks remain largely unfulfilled. The administration’s critics in Congress have cited the lack of progress toward those benchmarks as evidence that the White House is on the wrong track and ought to begin a rapid pullout of combat forces.
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