The time lines were dropped from the Iraq Bill and more benchmarks have been added to a total of 19.
The Iraq funding bill is far from being a sellout as its many critics on left and right claim — in fact it imposes far more benchmarks to assess progress in Iraq than have ever been applied before, a leading U.S. military expert maintains. "As for the actual benchmarks, they are about as good as any practical legislation can get, and better defined than most academic and think tank lists," Anthony H. Cordesman, who holds the Arleigh A. Burke chair in strategy at the Center for Strategic & International Studies, a Washington think tank, writes in a new analysis entitled "Setting the Right Benchmarks: The Opportunity for Bipartisan Progress." Cordesman's conclusion flies in the face of current Washington conventional wisdom on both right and left. President George W. Bush has been on a high in public appearances since the Democratic-controlled Congress backed down and withdrew its demands to insert a timetable for U.S. troop withdrawals from Iraq into a major defense funding bill. The Democrats were divided on the issue, and anti-war activists have angrily branded the provisions of the bill after the timetable pullout language was withdrawn as a sellout. But Cordesman argues that the bill still marks significant progress in the efforts of the new Congress to impose new standards of accountability and assessment on U.S. military and nation-building efforts in Iraq. He listed 18 different benchmark requirements in the legislation, none of which had been imposed by previous Republican-controlled congresses.