Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Iraq Study Group Takes Defeatist Tone

"The situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating. There is no path that can guarantee success, but the prospects can be improved" (openning lines of the executive summary)

Read: No chance for victory. That's what it sounds like to me. And remember, the enemy has internet access too. They must have a smile on their face right about now.

The ISG has come with two primary recommendations:

Our most important recommendations call for new and enhanced diplomatic and political efforts in Iraq and the region, and a change in the primary mission of U.S. forces in Iraq that will enable the United States to begin to move its combat
forces out of Iraq responsibly.
As we find out later in the report this means engagement with Iran and Syria, and a timetable for troop withdrawl:
(On Iran and Syria)
Given the ability of Iran and Syria to influence events within Iraq and their interest in avoiding chaos in Iraq, the United States should try to engage them constructively.
(see what we have said recently on this subject: here and here.)

(On Redeployment)
By the first quarter of 2008, subject to unexpected developments in the security
situation on the ground, all combat brigades not necessary for force protection could be out of Iraq.

The report also envisions a increased role for Iraqi forces, and pull back of U.S. forces to a supporting role:
The primary mission of U.S. forces in Iraq should evolve to one of supporting the Iraqi army, which would take over primary responsibility for combat operations.
Military experts disagree: (from Reuters analysis):
Pulling back American troops into their bases in Iraq will reduce U.S. casualties, but it could also spark a firestorm of unrestrained sectarian violence that will sorely test the loyalties of the Iraqi army.

"The short term will see a drop in (U.S.) casualties. But the military consequence of pulling back will be to cede the initiative to the enemy and to reduce the patrol presence that keeps enemy activity down," said Stephen Biddle of the U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute. "If we were to withdraw to bases, the intensity of the civil war is going to increase dramatically," he warned.

Intersperesed throughout the report there appears to be some sound advice. The ISG makes recommendations on Iraq's criminal justice system, its oil sector, reconstruction, U.S. budgeting and intelligence. It is the two primary points that are troubling.

Keep in mind that I have undertaken only a cursory reading of the report. I will have more comment later on some of these secondary recommendations.

Here's the USAToday blog report summary.

Allah at Hot Air picks-up on pessimism of report.

Again, the report is here.

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