Friday, December 08, 2006

Reactions to the Iraq Study Group Report

Iraq Study Group: Change Iraq strategy now Dec. 6, 2006:

In a highly anticipated report being released Wednesday, the Iraq Study Group will call for a dramatic shift in war policy by urging the Bush administration to set a target of moving most U.S. troops out of their combat roles by early 2008, according to two sources who have seen the executive summary of the report.

The bipartisan panel, however, will stop short of a specific timetable for withdrawal.

"The primary mission of U.S. forces in Iraq should evolve into one of supporting the Iraqi Army," says the report.

It adds: "It's clear the Iraqi government will need U.S. assistance for some time to come, especially in carrying out new security responsibilities. Yet the U.S. must not make open-ended commitments to keep large numbers of troops deployed in Iraq."

Sources familiar with the report, which will be presented to President Bush at the White House early Wednesday morning, said it also prods the administration to launch a new diplomatic initiative to solve the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

The report contends the United States "cannot achieve its goals in the Mideast" unless it embarks on a "renewed and sustained commitment to a comprehensive peace plan on all fronts," according to the sources who have seen the report.

As part of this initiative, the panel calls for direct talks between the United States and Iran, as well as Syria, a move the Bush administration has repeatedly resisted.

The Iraq Study group report will be downloadable at the following websites:


  • The Iraq Study Group's self-contradiction, by Donald Sensing. Winds of Change Dec. 7, 2006:
    . . . on the one hand, the ISG says the US is facing a real crisis in Iraq and that time is short to change direction. Then, on the other, the ISG offers recommendations that even it (unanimously) says is "not likely to happen quickly." The ISG wants to start withdrawing US combat units from Iraq by 2008, but did it stop to think that it's highly unlikely for any of its regional initiatives and conferences even to be scheduled by then? The wheels of the gods and diplomats grind exceedingly slow, something James Baker should have remembered. Syria and Iraq have no obvious incentive to engage with us at all, a fact that Messrs. Baker and Hamilton tacitly admitted. To imagine that Assad and Ahmandinejad will jump at the chance to assist the US in achieving its goals in Iraq is the triumph of hope over experience. If anything, they'll see the report as a sign of the slackening of American will and pretend to engage while making sure that the "peace process" drags on interminably. (We do, after all, have a track record of being victiom of that tactic, just recall the Paris peace talks with Hanoi, in which the North Vietnamese delegation spent most of a year doing nothing but arguing about the shape and height of the negotiation table.)
  • Assessment of the Iraq Study Group Report, by Marc Schulman on Lebanon. American Future Dec. 6, 2006.
  • We've Been Talking: It's a myth that the U.S. hasn't already engaged Syria and Iran, by Joel Himelfarb. The Wall Street Journal Dec. 6, 2006:
    Based on the historical record, the advocates of U.S. engagement with these regimes are delusional. The record, from Carter to Bush II, strongly suggests that neither regime has any interest in cooperating with us in Iraq, and are more likely than not to view the Carter-Brzezinski-Hagel approach as a demonstration of American weakness.
  • Will Iraq Study Group’s Plan Work on the Battlefield?, by Michael R. Gordon. New York Times Dec. 7, 2008.