The Brookings Institution's Iraq Index provides the most authoritative measure of how much progress is being made in Iraq. Their recent findings? Not much.
The latest chart compares every May since the fall of Saddam in 2003. US troop deaths per month, American fatalities from homemade bombs, monthly insurgent attacks against coalition troops and civilians, and Iraqi civilian deaths are at an all-time high.
The number of foreign troops in the "coalition of the willing" are at an all-time low. So are the percentage of Iraqis who say their country is heading in the right direction. That's down from 70 percent after the liberation of Baghdad to 36 percent today, just above George W. Bush's own approval rating in this country.
"Overall levels of violence are down somewhat in Baghdad," the authors write. Yet across the country, "bad news still dominates."
Some Republicans have suggested using the "Iraq Index" as official benchmarks. That won't provide their party much relief.