GRADING IRAQ….Tom Bevan takes on the idea that the bombing of the UN building in Iraq is good news because it demonstrates the desperation and weakness of the anti-U.S. forces in Iraq:

The core of the hypothesis, at least in my mind, is that the success of our policy in Iraq is demonstrated by the simple fact that the terrorists are not able to attack the targets they want to in the way they want to attack them. That fact, in and of itself, proves the terrorists are operating from a position of weakness.

I’m not really sure what the point of this is. Of course the terrorists are operating from a position of weakness. That’s practically the definition of terrorism. Anyone with a serious military capability chooses other ways to fight.

Bevan goes on to say the UN bombing shows specific weakness because it was a lousy target. What they’d really like to do, for example, is assassinate Paul Bremer, but they’re too weak to do that. Instead, they’re reduced to attacks with little symbolic value.

I’m not sure I buy that either, but in any case if bombing the UN isn’t really a serious setback, what would count as a setback? Responding to Josh Marshall’s request for benchmarks, Tom says our policy in Iraq is failing when terrorists can successfully prevent us from:

  • keeping schools and hospitals open

  • continuing to establish a functioning form of representative government for the Iraqi people

  • conducting military and security operations

  • continuing to rebuild Iraq’s infrastructure

  • winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people

That’s as good a set of benchmarks as any. Let’s keep our eye on them.

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