From the Washington Post
Panel To Urge Pressure On Iraq
Study Group to Present Its Report to Bush Today
The bipartisan Iraq Study Group plans to recommend to President Bush that he threaten to reduce economic and military support for Iraq's government if it fails to meet specific benchmarks intended to improve security in the country, a source familiar with the report said yesterday.
The 120 page report providing 79 specific suggestions, but is this the formation of a new plan - or simply a laundry list of things the Bush Administration has already failed, and will simply never do?
The congressionally chartered panel, which is due to deliver its much-anticipated report to Bush at the White House this morning and then unveil it to the public, outlined diplomatic and military ideas intended to change the course of the 44-month-old war. Among other things, the source said, the report urges Bush to aggressively tackle the Israeli-Palestinian dispute to reduce the broader regional tensions fueling the Iraq conflict.
Oh yeah, like that's gonna happen. Just where was Bush during the Lebanon/Israeli War of 2006, clearing brush in Crawford while hiding out from Cindy Sheehan again?
The latest details to emerge from the commission's report help flesh out a plan that also calls for the United States to withdraw nearly all combat units by early 2008 while leaving behind tens of thousands of troops to advise, train and embed with Iraqi forces. The report suggests that the Bush administration open talks with Iran and Syria about ways to end the violence in Iraq and proposes holding a regional conference to bring together all of Iraq's neighbors.
This in contrast to "We Win unless we Leave?" and the view that talking with Terrorist States is Appeasment - not gonna fly in BushWorld.
Even the Wapo knows this is a non-starter with Bush.
Some proposals in the report track measures that the administration is already carrying out or is considering, but several directly challenge Bush in areas in which he has refused to compromise. The president has rejected talking with Iran and Syria and has resisted linking the Iraq war to the Palestinian issue. He has dismissed timetables for troop withdrawals, although the panel cites 2008 as a goal rather than a firm deadline. He has also declined to punish Iraqis for not making progress in establishing security
What we are going to see here is a repeat of what we saw following the 9/11 Commission Report. Bush will thank the panel members for their kind suggestions, then pat them on the head and send them away.
Congress has to pick up this ball and ram it down Bush's throat one hearing at a time. And signs are that they're planning to do exactly that, and then some.
"The bipartisan Iraq Study Group has concluded that the President's Iraq policy has failed and must be changed. As the November elections clearly demonstrated, that is an assessment shared by the American people.
"If the President is serious about the need for change in Iraq, he will find Democrats ready to work with him in a bipartisan fashion to find a way to end the war as quickly as possible. We are committed to ensuring that the ideas of the Iraq Study Group, as well as the ideas of other thoughtful people inside and outside of government, are given full consideration in that process."
And if the President isn't serious, what then?
President Bush "may not be in much of a hurry to accept [ISG co-chairman Jim] Baker’s ideas about [Iraq] — or much else. Asked if Baker would help implement the report, a spokesman for Mr. Bush said, ‘Jim Baker can go back to his day job.‘"
Reactions from the Troops (Via Boston Globe)
Spc. Eisenhower Atuatasi, 26, of Westminster, Calif.: "There's no way we're leaving in two years no matter what any recommendation says."
Staff Sgt. Rony Theodore, 33, of Brooklyn, N.Y.: "All of us want to change what we're doing because we're not doing very much."
Sgt. Christopher Wiacik, 28, of Livonia, Michigan: "It's just a study group. It's not really going to affect the president. I don't see any major changes happening until presidential elections start. I think both sides will promise to get troops out and give timelines then, but not before. We're just sitting around not making any progress. It's annoying. You're not motivated to help anybody. I don't want to live my life like this."
Spc. Richard Johnson, 20, of Bridgeport, Conn.: "It's like holding a child's hand. How long can you hold onto his hand before he does something on his own? How much longer do we have to get shot at or blown up?"
First Lieutenant Gerard Dow, 32, of Chicago, Ill.: "In Iraq, we try to win the hearts and minds of population. They want Americans out of here. They blame us for all their problems. They look at us as the terrorists and then they turn around and help the terrorists who are trying to kill us.... U.S. soldiers are dying trying to help people who don't want their help."
In the end I believe these troops are absolutely correct. This report changes nothing, except for this -- the Debate About Iraq is Over - The Murtha/Kerry Wing have won it, hands down. Murtha's Redeployment strategy and Kerry's Regional Talks approach from two years ago have been completely vindicated.
As I told Randi Rhodes yesterday when I called in to her show, just like the Dumpsfeld Memo, the ISG report itself is one big CYA document that provides the GOP cover as well as a roadbloak to further progress on Iraq. The recommendations provided are essentially a line in the sand between Democrats and the White House - This far and no farther.
Thus we get Redeployment with no Date Certain. We get a discussion of training the Iraqi Forces, with little discussion of how to give them something to actually fight for, rather than against themselves.
If Democrats attempt to seriously address the 3 critical issues of Iraq...
- How did we get into this War in the First Place when there were no WMD's, No Nuclear program and no ties to Al-Qaeda
- How and why has it been persecuted so badly - Whack-a-mole style.
- How do we get out without it all going up in smoke!
but do so by "crossing the line of consensus" created by the ISG, they are certain to be accused of vindictive partisianship.
- They're on a Witch-hunt. They just want to Embarriss the President
I'm sure that Russ Feingold's statements from Countdown last night are likely to generate exactly that kind of response from the Right.
Feingold: But the fact is, this commission was composed apparently entirely of people who did not have the judgment to oppose this Iraq war in the first place, and who did not have the judgment to realize it was not a wise move in the fight against terrorism.
So that‘s who‘s doing this report. And then I looked at the list of who testified before them. There‘s virtually no one who opposed the war in the first place, virtually no one who‘s been really calling for a different strategy that goes for a global approach to the war on terrorism.
So this is really a Washington inside job, and it shows not in the description of what‘s happened, that‘s fairly accurate, but it shows in the recommendations. It‘s been called a classic Washington compromise that does not do the job of extricating us from Iraq in a way that we can deal with the issues in Southeast Asia, in Afghanistan, and in Somalia, which are every bit as important as what is happening in Iraq.
So this report does not do the job, and it‘s because it was not composed of a real representative group of Americans, who believe what the American people showed in the election, which is that it is time for us to have a timetable to bring the troops out of Iraq.
But the problem is, the bottom line here is, what are we going to so we can allocate our resources around the world to the battle against terrorism? This report keeps us in Iraq. This report keeps our resources there. One of the things I really noticed is they said we should put our very best people embedded in the Iraqi army. Well, that‘s nice, but that means they won‘t be in Afghanistan. And we are losing ground to the Taliban in Afghanistan, which, as I remember, is where the attacks came from on 9/11.
- See, he just can't help himself from Criticizing Bush, h e's got Bush on the Brain!"
Oh yeah, and just how is ole Osama doing anyway?
Clearly, the ISG Report is not the end of the battle to end the Iraq War - nor will it help us continue the global fight against terror - the ISG is only the beginning, now the real work begins.
Isn't it interesting that the ISG calls for the troops to be redeployed right in the middle of the 2008 primary season?
In many ways this report has just fired the starting gun on the 2008 Presidential Race, where the best positioned candidate will probably be the one who comes up with the best solution to Iraq. Just as when Senator George Mitchell years ago took it largely upon himself to go to Northern Ireland and attempt to find compromise between the Protestants, IRA and England in order to help end that situation, what this situation may call for is an intrepid Senator to Run past the Whitehouse go the middle-east and begin working on negotiations in the region and between the Shiia and Sunni leadership by him or herself.
Oh and isn't it also interesting that before the ISG has completely cooled down from the printing press Senator John Kerry has already supported Prime Minister al-Maliki's call for a regional summit and is already on his way to Syria to begin diplomatic talks that the White House will probably never have?
Although he's been counted out since Pronoun-Gate, I don't think we've seen the last Presidential Race by Kerry.
The next two years stand to become very interesting times, indeed.