It's almost impopssible to tell for sure whether this is the beginning of a trend or just two more senators who have had enough. But Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Saxby Chambliss of Georgia have let it be known, having just gotten back from Iraq, that they've just about had it with the Nouri al-Maliki government in Iraq. They say they'd be ready to consider pulling back aid to the Iraqi government if it can't get it's act together enough to start showing some political progress in a reconciliation direction. The test they're suggesting, however, isn't all that daunting -- a law by January that would allow low-and mid-level Baath Party members to return to government jobs. That's the one thing the Iraqi government just might be ready to do -- if the stories I read for the blog post I did today for the Eye on the Empire blog at the Register on how the administration is (again) defining success downward are accurate. The more difficult "benchmarks," however -- an oil revenue-sharing law, local elections, some indication they're ready to give Sunnis real responsibility and a share of real power -- are more important and much less likely.
In addition, the Graham-Chambliss threat is to send aid to various provinces that are doing well by their standards rather than to the central government. That might be a formula for staying in Iraq even longer. The Iraqis really need to start relying on U.S. aid less rather than becoming more dependent.