MIKE PESCA: The president laid out four main areas for improvement: Security, oil revenue, domestic spending and electoral reform. Philip Zelikow was Condoleezza Rice’s top adviser for much of her tenure as secretary of state. He offers this assessment.
Mr. PHILIP ZELIKOW (Executive Director, 9/11 Commission; Condoleezza Rice’s adviser): The oil law: good. The other benchmarks—political and economic—not so good.
PESCA: Let’s go through them one by one. The first benchmark the president announced was what all Iraq watchers say the fundamental goal from which all other progress will follow.
Pres. BUSH: The Iraqi government plans to take responsibility for security in all of Iraq’s provinces by November.
PESCA: Carlos Pascual, the director of foreign policy studies at The Brookings Institution, says this goal will be all but impossible to meet. He points to the number of troops needed.
Mr. CARLOS PASCUAL (Director, Foreign Policy Studies at The Brookings Institution): It’s a start with 150,000 on the part of the Americans, 50,000 on the part of the Iraqis who are competent. You still need, perhaps, another 200,000 forces, competent forces, to be able to deal with something like this on a sustained basis.
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No vetting system is perfect, but if you look at those who have been arrested for suspicions of being linked to the Islamic State, for example, the vast majority have been American citizens.