Goals for our Iraq War

This is one of the FM website’s reference pages about our foreign wars.  Other pages you might find of interest:

The US government has been commendably explicit about our goals. Below are texts of the President’s victory conditions and the legislated “Benchmarks.”

(1)  Executive Branch statements about goals for the Iraq War

(a) Victory In Iraq Defined“, part of Our National Strategy for Victory in Iraq, November 2005:

Helping the Iraqi People Defeat the Terrorists and Build an Inclusive Democratic State

As the central front in the global war on terror, success in Iraq is an essential element in the long war against the ideology that breeds international terrorism. Unlike past wars, however, victory in Iraq will not come in the form of an enemy’s surrender, or be signaled by a single particular event — there will be no Battleship Missouri, no Appomattox. The ultimate victory will be achieved in stages, and we expect:

In the short term:

An Iraq that is making steady progress in fighting terrorists and neutralizing the insurgency, meeting political milestones; building democratic institutions; standing up robust security forces to gather intelligence, destroy terrorist networks, and maintain security; and tackling key economic reforms to lay the foundation for a sound economy.

In the medium term:

An Iraq that is in the lead defeating terrorists and insurgents and providing its own security, with a constitutional, elected government in place, providing an inspiring example to reformers in the region, and well on its way to achieving its economic potential.

In the longer term:

(a)  An Iraq that has defeated the terrorists and neutral

(b)  An Iraq that is peaceful, united, stable, democratic, and secure, where Iraqis have the institutions and resources they need to govern themselves justly and provide security for their country.

(c)  An Iraq that is a partner in the global war on terror and the fight against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, integrated into the international community, an engine for regional economic growth, and proving the fruits of democratic governance to the region.

(b)   Highlights of the Iraq Strategy Review, National Security Council, January 2007

“Our strategic goal in Iraq remains the same: A unified democratic federal Iraq that can govern itself, defend itself, and sustain itself, and is an ally in the War on Terror. .. we are in a new phase of the effort …”   It then lists 8 objectives for the next 12 – 24 months.

(c)   Fact Sheet: Five Years Later: New Strategy Improving Security In Iraq, White House web site, 19 March 2008)

(2)  The Congressional benchmarks

(a)  The 18 benchmarks were in the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans’ Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act passed by Congress on 24 May 2007 (see the Wikipedia summary).

  1. Forming a Constitutional Review Committee and then completing the constitutional review.
  2. Enacting and implementing legislation on de-Ba’athification.
  3. Enacting and implementing legislation to ensure the equitable distribution of hydrocarbon resources of the people of Iraq without regard to the sect or ethnicity of recipients, and enacting and implementing legislation to ensure that the energy resources of Iraq benefit Sunni Arabs, Shia Arabs, Kurds, and other Iraqi citizens in an equitable manner.
  4. Enacting and implementing legislation on procedures to form semi-autonomous regions.
  5. Enacting and implementing legislation establishing an Independent High Electoral Commission, provincial elections law, provincial council authorities, and a date for provincial elections.
  6. Enacting and implementing legislation addressing amnesty.
  7. Enacting and implementing legislation establishing strong militia disarmament program to ensure that such security forces are accountable only to the central government and loyal to the Constitution of Iraq.
  8. Establishing supporting political, media, economic, and services committees in support of the Baghdad security plan.
  9. Providing three trained and ready Iraqi brigades to support Baghdad operations.
  10. Providing Iraqi commanders with all authorities to execute this plan and to make tactical and operational decisions, in consultation with U.S. commanders, without political intervention, to include the authority to pursue all extremists, including Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias.
  11. Ensuring that the Iraqi security forces are providing even-handed enforcement of the law.
  12. Ensuring that, according to President Bush, Prime Minister Maliki said ‘‘the Baghdad security plan will not provide a safe haven for any outlaws, regardless of [their] sectarian or political affiliation.”
  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.
  16. Ensuring that the rights of minority political parties in the Iraqi legislature are protected.
  17. Allocating and spending $10 billion in Iraqi revenues for reconstruction projects, including delivery of essential services, on an equitable basis.
  18. Ensuring that Iraq’s political authorities are not undermining or making false accusations against members of the Iraqi security forces.

(b)   Here is the Comptroller General’s 4 September 2007 mandated report on the status of the achievement of these benchmarks; here is the GAO’s comprehensive analysis. The key paragraph from GAO’s summary:

As of August 30, 2007, the Iraqi government met 3, partially met 4, and did not meet 11 of its 18 benchmarks. Overall, key legislation has not been passed, violence remains high, and it is unclear whether the Iraqi government will spend $10 billion in reconstruction funds.

(c)  Here is General Petraeus’ Report to Congress on 10 September 2007: a pdf file of only the testimony, and a pdf file including the charts (8.2 meg).

(d)  Here is Ambassador Crocker’s Report to Congress on 10 September 2007.

(e)  Here is the President’s 14 September Benchmark Assessment Report. It states

Today’s report is based on data available as of September 1 and reflects that the Iraqis have made satisfactory progress since January 2007 on 9 benchmarks, including on de-Ba’athification reform which in July was assessed as unsatisfactory. In addition, while the current report assesses 7 benchmarks as not satisfactory, this includes 4 benchmarks with progress on some aspects while not on others. In both the July report and today’s assessment, 2 benchmarks are not rated because the necessary preconditions are not yet present.

(f)  The GAO’s report of 15 January 2008: “Iraq Reconstruction: Better Data Needed to Assess Iraq’s Budget Execution” — Summary (HTML), Full Report (PDF, 4 meg).

(g) Officials Lean Toward Keeping Next Iraq Assessment Secret“, Washington Post, 7 March 2008

A new National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq is scheduled to be completed this month, according to U.S. intelligence officials. But leaders of the intelligence community have not decided whether to make its key judgments public, a step that caused an uproar when key judgments in an NIE about Iran were released in November.

… Key NIE judgments on Iraq had previously been made public, beginning with a highly controversial October 2002 assessment warning that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. That estimate was later proved wrong, with no such weapons discovered in Iraq after the U.S. invasion, and the matter led to charges that the intelligence community had been politicized by the Bush administration.

“Overall, professional life is less complicated if nothing becomes public, and one doesn’t have to organize classified assessments always having in the back of one’s mind, ‘If this is ever leaked, how would it read’ ” in the news media, a former intelligence analyst said.

(h) One Year After the Surge:  Iraq Benchmark Report Card” by the Center for American Progress, 24 January 2008:

  • 3 benchmarks accomplished (Baghdad security plan, minority rights legislation, neighborhood security in Baghdad)
  • 5 partials (de-Ba’athification legislation, military support in Baghdad, empower Iraq security forces, reduce sectarian violence, distribute resources equitably)
  • 10 unmet.
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