DJ Elliot points out this 61-page report to Congress, prepared in connection with the DOD Appropriations Act of 2007 entitled "Measuring Security and Stability in Iraq". The report describes in detail what the economic, political and security situation is in Iraq today and in particular what the what the rebuilt Iraqi Security Forces will look like.
According to the report, "the strategic goal of the United States in Iraq remains a unified, democratic and federal Iraq that can govern, defend and sustain itself and is an ally in the war on terror." It will be interesting to see whether the goal of establishing a stable, democratic, country allied with the United States will automatically imply a permanently hostile presence to theocratic Iran and other dictatorial forces in the region in the manner of Germany versus the Eastern Block or South Korea versus North Korea during the Cold War.
Achieving this strategic goal is still a long way off. The key finding in its executive summary is that "the numerous 'tribal awakening' movements and the CLC program are making progress at the local level, but challenges remain at the national level. The key to long-term success will be the GoI’s ability to capitalize upon local gains, pass key legislation and promote national reconciliation." That's to say, the overall fate of the American effort now depends on whether the Iraqi people and leaders can be persuaded to ratify the events of the last years.
If nothing else the report provides some insight into how the Administration sees the remaining challenges; how the intellectual problem is set up in their minds. It suggests that events are now coming to a new phase; that although MNF-Iraq has created a vastly improved security situation and started a number of grassroots developments, the final acts now lie in the hands of the Iraqi leaders, US diplomats -- and God -- or if you prefer, fortune. "The key to long-term success will be the GoI’s ability to capitalize upon local gains, pass key legislation and promote national reconciliation." Here matters pass beyond the certitude of arms and into the realm of politics and the unpredictable choices of the Iraqi people. Ultimately this may be what betting on democracy is all about: a willingness to risk the right process will work in the long run however nervous it makes Washington in the short run. Betting on the success of democracy over a client strongman is probabalistically the smart thing to do but it can still fail in the particular instance. But if you have to go, go with the odds.
But if Iraq succeeds it has the potential to transform the strategic picture in the region the way Germany and South Korea did in their own parts of the world. The report notes that the following Iraqi Security Forces will be raised up.
As of November 15, 2007, the Coalition and the Ministry of Defense have generated 117 army battalions that are conducting operations at varying levels of capability; another 42 are currently in or planned for force generation. Ten divisions, 34 brigades, and 108 battalions have the lead in counterinsurgency operations in their areas of responsibility.
Can't make Iran too happy.