Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by PartTimePongo, Dec 6, 2006.
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Iraq Study Group Report findings have been released
The findings of the team headed by James Baker, the former Secretary of State, were finally announced in Washington this afternoon. They are much starker and more far-reaching than expected.
Their report states clearly that current US policy is not working. American forces, it says, must switch from their present combat role within a year, and for most of next year they must concentrate on training, mentoring and monitoring the Iraqi security forces.
The report is going to be hard for President Bush to swallow. He must realise that even the most modest success is going to elude him in Iraq. The Baker team is saying that he must act decisively if he is to avoid disaster for the US, and for the whole Gulf region.
Baker says the whole neighbourhood must be engaged in trying to bring stability to Iraq. This means direct talks with Syria and Iran â which George W Bush has said that he will not countenance. Will he now change his mind on this? Unlikely.
Tony Blair, due to see Bush tomorrow, will find it hard to swallow too â as will Gen Sir Mike Jackson, who commanded the Army at the time of the invasion. Giving the Richard Dimbleby lecture on TV tonight, he is due to say that British forces should not leave Iraq, "until it is right to do so". Clearly he hadn't anticipated that James A Baker III thinks that time is now.
Let's all understand that Baker has handed Bush, Blair, their apparatchiks (and probably, Jackson) a great escape route. They can now follow the 'instructions' of the ISG - 'appointed' by GWB - and abandon responsibility for anything which happens from this point forward.
As to Jackson - he's being slightly schizoid here - as always. But you can bet that he'll be able to 'clarify' his position when he's had a little time to think about it. Such a pity that all this brain work didn't go on a little earlier in his illustrious military career...
Strategy? No change. Only speeding the incremental process of handover.
Execution? No change. MORE of the same.
79 recommendations in total! An impossibly non-strategic report, heavy with minutia. More is less, as they say.
I think the phrase 'carry on the good work' applies.
The only limp praise must be its tone of reality.
The first reecommendation sums up the emphasis on diplomatic efforts:
It wasn't meant to focus just on strategy; here is what they were tasked with:
The Iraq Study Group will make a forward-looking, independent assessment of the current and prospective situation on the ground in Iraq and how that affects the surrounding region as well as U.S. interests.
The study group will examine four broad topics:
-- the strategic environment in and around Iraq;
-- the security of Iraq and key challenges to enhancing security within the country;
-- political developments within Iraq following the elections and formation of the new government;
-- and the economy and reconstruction.
Hell, facing reality deserves a lot more than limp praise vis-a-vis this administration's past lack of the same. Such are the times.
There can be no plaudits for not setting adequate 'terms of reference' or coming to terms too late. If the report in the final analysis is a 'do nothing new' strategy then this might be proved right as sub-optimising might be the path of best net return, given the investment and sunk costs. But, because of the autocratic nature, nay, Victorian puritanical self-righteous arrogant bullying nature, of the Republican leadership, this document goes as far as the Bush heirarchy can stomach without being humiliated. Bush will have sanctioned the 'path of least embarrassment', and in Baker he found a complicit author.
It's by implication or by silence, giving ascent to the current strategy in one breath, but also acknowledging the stakes are dire. Here is the gap analysis; the patient (plan) is hemorrhaging but the doctors wish to see the next set of symptons before diagnosis. Will the leg have to come off below the knee or above it. Let's hold on before we break the bad news to the patient. The question is are the next steps commensurate with the threat. Gen. Jacksons' analysis on the integrity of maintaining the Afghan offensive needs more echoes in Washington.
That depends on what you define as the 'threat'. Currently my definition is the incompetence and mendacity of the Bush annd Blair regimes.
As to Jackson, well I hope that he is not seen as a model by Americans. He's always managed to talk the talk, but in reality his views are those of a retiree and were certainly not expressed (at least publicily - unlike Dannatt) at the time when they could have done most good.
Under the watchful eye of Bush Sr, Baker has provided a tool with which Bush and Blair can dig themselves out of the manure. Let's see whether they have the wit to use it. In the meantime the costs - of every sort - to our respective nations continue. They will do so for decades to come.
It was a bi-partisan group whose intent was not bomb-throwing but producing a document reflective of the situation and offering recommendations within the scope of its mission. A little knowledge of the group's make-up is instructive; of the dems both V. Jordan and L. Panetta are partisan opponents of the current regime, while Hamilton, Robb and Perry are centrists.
Much as I dislike Bush, 'pointing fingers' isn't going to be constructive, the fact that the group exists is itself a statement on the administration's failure in Iraq.
Have you read the complete document? I don't see the relevance of your 'gap analysis'. Many of the recommendations offered up are distasteful to the Bushies; see the section devoted to diplomacy w/Syria and Iran. It does offer an endstate--without a timeline--and offers four alternatives. Not a revolutionary document by any means and within the boundries of what it was tasked with (which has been on the front page of the Iraq Study Group site for several weeks).
Watching the Bush (Jr) press call was entertaining. GWB, petulant, defensive, swaggering, mentally constipated and verbally incontinent was holding a copy of the Report which I could swear still had its shrink-wrapping on (at least it looked pristine).
Then on the other hand on the rare occasions when George does read you can always see his lips slowly and painstakingly forming the words. Never got to those remedial classes, then.
Such a pity that GWB was not shrink-wrapped many years ago....
Bush is not happy with it.
Israel is not happy with it.
And now the Iraqi President goes on record too...
If the master is unhappy and the real masters are unhappy then it would be logical to expect that the puppet is unhappy too.
Its amazing really that none one has seen fit to mention how odd it was to have an Iraq Study Group look into what should next happen in and to Iraq, yet have no Iraqi peoples input whatsoever!
Merkator posted about Talabani,
Is Iraq not a colony of the good ol' US of A? They have no control of their security (internal and external), no control of their foreign policy, no control of their immigration policy, no control of who can and can not hold public office etc etc.
What exactly is it that makes Iraq a sovereign nation? Don't tell me it's because they elected leaders who can't sneeze without America's say so.
To call elections then say that the result has of its self created a democracy was always absurd.
Its just a rushed cynical window dressing job imposed on the poor god forsaken Iraqis by the occupying powers who are now in a hurry to get out.
The 'Democracy' in Iraq has all the emptiness and fragility of a hollow chocolate Easter egg.
While decent Iraqis may try and make work the impossible the crooks and fanatics amongst them know the truth and are making sport pulling the egg apart in order to devour it.
Here is a link of a veterans view of the ISG report:
Separate names with a comma.