Iraq Strategy Short on Substance

Reasonable people disagree on the right course for Iraq, that much is obvious. Some, like Sen. Ted Kennedy, want the White House to issue a detailed timeline for withdrawing U.S. troops. Others, like Rep. Marty Meehan, favor withdrawal but eschew the notion of a timeline. Another camp, which includes prominent MidEast scholar Juan Cole, warns a precipitous withdrawal might make conditions in Iraq far worse.

Here’s one demand we can all agree on: the White House needs to publicly announce its goals for training Iraqi security forces. Right now, we know neither the training goals that will satisfy our mission, nor the timeline for when those goals will be met. Sec. Rumsfeld even says such information is “unknowable.” This is false. If American commanders can make reasonable estimates about the training of American forces, it can do the same for Iraqi forces. Setting standards that define our success or failure is a basic step, and should be expected from an administration that so frequently preaches accountability.