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A few thoughts on the ISG recommendations
Posted by: mcq on Thursday, December 07, 2006

I'm on the road through today and still haven't had a chance to read the ISG report. However, USA Today provides a useful synopsis of the major points on which I can make some comment:
Change the mission of U.S. troops. The number of U.S. troops embedded with Iraqi units to train them should be multiplied, the report said. The 3,000 or 4,000 now embedded should have their ranks increased to 10,000 or even 20,000. These troops could be drawn from combat brigades already deployed in Iraq.

As that happens, U.S. combat forces could begin to move out.
This has been one of my recommendations for quite some time. The mission is training the Iraqis to deal with the insurgency, not to have US forces fight it. I agree with the recommendation.
Pressure the Iraqi government. The report lays out a detailed series of benchmarks. By the end of this year or early next year, it calls on the Iraqi government to approve laws to share Iraq's oil resources, outlaw militias and limit the purge of former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party. By next spring, the Iraqis should have completed "reconciliation efforts" by enacting an amnesty for insurgents willing to lay down arms and holding a referendum on possible constitutional amendments.

If the Iraqi government can't or won't act, the United States should reduce its role there.
The three critical actions are what I'd call "good faith" actions which should determine whether we continue our role or begin standing down. I agree with the recommendation.
Enlist Iraq's neighbors to help. The report calls for the creation of a new Iraq International Support Group to include Iraq's neighbors, Egypt, the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council (the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China) and the European Union. Negotiations over Iran's nuclear problem shouldn't preclude cooperation on Iraq.
Personally I see nothing of substance or worth coming from this sort of a "support group". Maybe I'm just too cynical. Certainly I understand it would be wonderful if we could convince all of these players that a stable, free and peaceful Iraq would be of benefit to the region, but there are too many players among that group to whom that isn't a priority or who want to maintain the status quo to tie down the US. The question is, what incentive is there for most of these players to cooperate in helping attain the goals the US has set? Frankly, I see few if any.

In this case it's not that I particularly disagree, I simply don't see this realistically coming to fruition unless the US is prepared to bend over and grab it's ankles.
Address the Arab-Israeli conflicts. The report urges the administration to launch a major effort to resolve Israel's conflicts with the Palestinians and Syria. Edward Djerejian, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel and Syria who helped draft much of the commission's report, said the United States could not expect Syria to help stabilize Iraq without Israel addressing Syria's desire to regain the Golan Heights, captured by Israel in 1967.

The Bush administration has to move from "conflict management to conflict resolution" throughout the Middle East if its Iraq policies will have a chance to work, he said.
This is part and parcel of the point above. This is the only incentive the US has to offer. However, the report also mentioned a taboo which must be refuted if they expect any cooperation from Israel - the "right of return" for Palestinians. Israel doesn't recognize it nor has it ever been a part of any plan in the past. And, of course, any part of a plan to give back the Golan Heights to Syria should be tied in with Syria giving back a part of Lebanon's territory as well.

I understand the reason for the recommendation, and don't necessarily disagree (given the fact that it offers incentive to cooperate on Iraq for some regional players) but the "right of return" language has to go and Syria and the Palestinians have to actually treat seriously for a change before any progress will be made (IOW, Israel isn't going to bend over and grab it's ankles).
Bring most U.S. troops home. Bush has said repeatedly U.S. forces would "stand down" as Iraqi forces were able to "stand up." The inability of Iraqi forces to handle security operations has delayed reductions in U.S. forces that the administration once expected to make this year.

If the Iraqi government failed to meet political and security benchmarks, the commission said, U.S. forces would be redeployed as planned and not "made hostage" to Iraqi actions or inaction.
Of course, this has been the recommendation of the DoD since the beginning (i.e. stand down the US forces as the Iraqi forces stand up) and the ISG's recommendation is no different in that regard. It is conditions based.

Again, I have no problem with the recommendation if the conditions are met. However, it should be noted, that if the administration accepts the recommendation of "mission change", the draw-down of combat troops would indeed be a natural consequence of that. The transition from combat to training could be made fairly quickly and most of the combat troops could be withdrawn. However, as noted, the training side would grow much larger (20,000 trainers plus support) and most likely see a continued US presence for years to come in an advisory role. I have no problem with that.

It should also be noted that while the ISG officially rejects the 'stay the course' option, it has outlined a 'stay the course' strategy whether it cares to admit that or not. It is simply redefining the mission. Noticeably missing are calls for immediate withdrawal, partitioning and a timeline. Essentially it is recommending we move up the timeline for the Iraqis and place conditions on their actions (or non-actions, whichever the case may be) to extend or curtail our involvement, involve the neighbors and make a big push in the Israeli/Palestinian problem as an incentive for those neighbors to cooperate.

I certainly agree with the mission change and pushing the Iraqis to fulfill the three conditions outlined by next year. As to the regional group and Israeli/Palestinian problem, I'd remind readers that both would require good faith participation by all parties, and I just have no confidence that can be expected of Syria, Iran, Palestinians, Russia or China (and, of course I have grave reservations about France as well).
 
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By the end of this year or early next year, it calls on the Iraqi government to approve laws to share Iraq’s oil resources, outlaw militias and limit the purge of former members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party.
Emphasis added. A little late in the game to force these three issues, isn’t it? What if the duly elected Iraqi government doesn’t want to do all three?

Maybe we should have added a requirement for a mandatory "pork roast Wednesday dinner" requirement to the list to ensure that we leave.
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
The ISG are a bunch of creeps. The SG should stand for "sellout group" since it seems that they’re looking to throw both Iraq and Israel (and probablay Lebanon) under the bus for Syria, Iran and "Palestine"

Oh well, I guess that’s realism nowadays.

What a toilet bowl full of cr*p
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Paris Peace Plan?

Maybe Canada is working into this with Celine Dion, new French citizen and leader of the liberal party in Quebec. It reminds alot of people of GG, CBC employee and CSIS agent, marrying a French seperatist to study the problem. Most whores(CSIS) in the business make their money this way in CSIS and Martin just had to recognize that type of service; so is Dion worthy of one of those?

Maybe it’s just a way to screw America in Iraq again, that’s really all they do when they’re not crashing shuttle and using sniper TV(just kidding).

 
Written By: D
URL: http://
I just watched the Bush/Blair press conference dealing with the report, and, basically, Bush just put a ’no, thanks’ stamp on it.

By setting impossible pre-conditions, he just cancelled the possibility of talking to Syria and Iran. Talking is the great bug-a-boo of the right. They much prefer gun-play and, apparently, the downward spiral in the Middle East.

Manwhile, the situation is becoming more dangerous by the day. Add Iraq, Lebanon, and Israel together, and you have the recipe for a regional conflagration that could well devolve into WWIII, with nukes. We ought to be willing to give every avenue a chance to prevent that, instead of clinging to these empty macho postures that just add fuel to the fire.

I feel like I’m caught in a train heading for the precipice, and Bush is gleefully at the controlds, yammering away about what he expects others to do before he puts on the breaks.

 
Written By: Laime
URL: http://
I feel like I’m caught in a train heading for the precipice
yeah, well, you get used to hearing about the precipice after a while. There’s always a war about to erupt somewhere that’s going to involve nukes, since oh, about 1949. Bush isn’t in any greater danger of driving you over it than anyone else has been.

Welcome aboard, try not to throw up on the seats, some of us like to lay down and take a rest from the manufactured panic once in a while.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
•Change the mission of U.S. troops. The number of U.S. troops embedded with Iraqi units to train them should be multiplied, the report said. The 3,000 or 4,000 now embedded should have their ranks increased to 10,000 or even 20,000. These troops could be drawn from combat brigades already deployed in Iraq.

As that happens, U.S. combat forces could begin to move out.
So, can any combat troop be used as an embedded training/support/oversight troop?

Or does that mission require new training for those assigned to it?
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://inactivist.org/blog/keith_indy
By setting impossible pre-conditions, he just cancelled the possibility of talking to Syria and Iran. Talking is the great bug-a-boo of the right. They much prefer gun-play and, apparently, the downward spiral in the Middle East
Um....no. Expecting our enemies to act in good faith and to have any say whatsoever in our business- yes, that is a bug-a-boo of the right.

Someone needs to remind you "realists" that our enemies will act....like our enemies. Syria and Iran should get a say in our Iraq venture (and other mid-east issues) while Iran’s nukes are off the table? Kill that noise. Syria just killed another Lebanese politician but hey, lets treat them as equal partners in Iraq!

Laime- How many countries are you willing to sell out for your anti-war agenda?
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Laime- How many countries are you willing to sell out for your anti-war agenda?

You can’t sell what you don’t own. In other words, f*ck that obnoxious, misguided construct. I think the Iraqis will forgive us for betraying them by halting our everyday use of massive quantities of ordinance to kill them dead.

The vast majority of genuine political forces in Iraq, both Sunni and Shia, want us out. Poll after poll has demonstrated it. The only politicians that don’t want us out are the ones we’re holding by the ear, groin or throat, and the genuine tools of Iran, rather than just the ideologically similar.
Oh, hey, speaking of selling out, that was Bush the other day meeting with Al-Hakim, the head of SCIRI, who’s in Iran’s pocket 100%, to scheme about how to sabotage Al-Sade, who’s in Iran’s pocket 50%! So, get used to it ! :-)


As for the ISG:



Mission change to "training": better than what we’re doing. Will not end the war. Will be openly (in Iraq, but not so you can see it in our media w/o looking hard) rejected by many Iraqi forces that don’t want to play clean. Will fall apart in the tension between what American trainers want Iraqis to do and what they are willing/interested in doing, as soon as autonomy is handed away from the US - if it ever is (in reality, not declaration).
Will also be rejected by Bush, who may expand the training but won’t drop the US combat.

Pressure the Iraqi government: a sad joke. You’ll have better luck with Iran and Syria. To put it another way, we’re too busy trying to pick our bastard and put him on top and/or keep him viable, which will continue to fatally undermine our ability to press him to actually get anything done, a familiar dynamic we’ve seen in every counterinsurgency every Western power has been involved in since the beginning of time. We never learn: we’re too stupid.

Iraq’s neighbors: Personally, I think that Iran could work out an Iraq power-sharing deal with Syria and Saudi Arabia in a heartbeat, assuming we wanted that outcome, and assuming we were willing to trade them the nukes. Yeah, we could probably save at least 100,000 Iraqi lives right now for tolerating Iranian deterrence. But we’re not willing to do it.

Or, as Iran’s national security advisor said to David Ignatius last week, we could even work out a deal in Iraq for the price of a commitment to withdraw from Iraq. But it’s not good enough for the macho men to have us promise to leave, and *then* things calm down, the result we supposedly want. That makes it look like not f*cking with other countries is a good thing. Nope, we have to continue trying to put the vase back together with the hammer until it all works or everyone is dead.

Bring most U.S. troops home:

This will happen because of the 2008 elections, and only because of it. It’d be very suprised if it started earlier than a year from now.

And because we will still be projecting the same posture, the same goals, and the same mission, still projecting our goal of triumph in Iraq, only trying to do it even cheaper, all the other forces watching us will continue to act against us in the same way as before, and Iraq will not improve. In fact, I expect to see, once and if we get down to the trainers, a *large* uptick in aerial bombing in Iraq, as it becomes regularly neccesary to rescue our remaining forces. So if Shark felt deprived about the opportunity to see more rubble do backflips, he’ll get his chance.













 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
"Laime- How many countries are you willing to sell out for your anti-war agenda? "
———————————————————————-

I don’t have an anti=war agenda.
I have an anti-absolutist agenda.

If I’m trapped in a hole, I want to explore ALL
possibilities for crawling out. I sure do not want to pre-eliminate those that may hurt my self-image as a tough guy.

Talking to Iran and Syria on a limited agenda has a more than likely possibility of failing. But, like Beker (the Republican) said, it would demonstrate, much better than rhetorical accusations, what its intentions are. We gain either way.

It’s a case of projecting America the good and reasonable over America the recalcitrant and power mad.
 
Written By: Laime
URL: http://
This will happen because of the 2008 elections, and only because of it. It’d be very suprised if it started earlier than a year from now.

And because we will still be projecting the same posture, the same goals, and the same mission, still projecting our goal of triumph in Iraq, only trying to do it even cheaper, all the other forces watching us will continue to act against us in the same way as before, and Iraq will not improve.
Either that, or the insurgency will wilt enough and the Iraqi security forces will strengthen enough by the spring of 2008 that the Iraqi government will ask us to leave, and the prediction of a five-year engagement that was made by most of the sane voices inside and outside of the military back in 2003 will more or less come to pass.

yours/
peter.
 
Written By: peter jackson
URL: www.liberalcapitalist.com
Either that, or the insurgency will wilt enough and the Iraqi security forces will strengthen enough by the spring of 2008 that the Iraqi government will ask us to leave,

The assumed causal connection between the first part of your scenario ("wilting insurgency, strengthening Iraqi security forces") and the second part "Iraqi government asks us to leave" is undeserved.

Plenty of individual Iraqi politicians, blocs of them, even have already asked us to leave. What’s stopping the Prime Minister of Iraq (the "Iraqi government") from asking us now, you ask? The fact that we don’t want him to. When we want him to ask, he’ll ask. Thus American hawks can look good.

Not even getting into the question of, are we talking strong security forces as in, ability to kill people ("conduct operations"), or are we talking, professionalism? Because for #1, we’re already there. That’s just waiting to be declared.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Plenty of individual Iraqi politicians, blocs of them, even have already asked us to leave. What’s stopping the Prime Minister of Iraq (the "Iraqi government") from asking us now, you ask? The fact that we don’t want him to. When we want him to ask, he’ll ask. Thus American hawks can look good.
Either that, or the Iraqi government realizes that it would be open season on them if the US left before they could protect their politicians and institutions by themselves. Absent the threat to themselves, I imagine that quite a few Iraqi politicians would compete to be seen as the first ones to formally ask foreign forces to leave.

yours/
peter.
 
Written By: peter Jackson
URL: www.liberalcapitalist.com
Why is Sandra O’Connor in on this thing? She’s credible in advising us about Mid East policy, warfare and Jihadists?

This group hasn’t done anything but engage in a giant love-fest, therapy session. It’s as if having all the Washington elites crying, pointing at each other and yelling ’No! You’re the man!’ is more important than stabilizing Iraq.

We should seek an end to the Isreali-Palestine conflict? Really? What’s recommendation #27? Santa Claus should pop out of the chimney with a misfit toy for all the sectarians in Baghdad?

What a giant circle jerk. Thanks for the great new ideas on how to win. Not.
 
Written By: Fyro
URL: http://
A lot of our troubles in Iraq seem to stem from the Iraqi government.

Anyone else starting to think we should have pulled a MacArthur in Iraq and gave them a constitution that had single member districts and an oil trust built in?

But IIRC, the international community wanted sovereignty handed over as quickly as possible. In the best interest of the Iraqi people.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
So, can any combat troop be used as an embedded training/support/oversight troop?

Or does that mission require new training for those assigned to it?
The infantry is pretty good at training others. They can’t be in the field all the time so when they are in the rear they do a lot of training amongst themselves.
 
Written By: Mac
URL: http://
Laime- How many countries are you willing to sell out for your anti-war agenda?

You can’t sell what you don’t own. In other words, f*ck that obnoxious, misguided construct
Ok, I’ll say it for you in a manner that you can get behind grammar-wise creep:

How many countries are you willing to betray for your anti-war agenda?

I count 4 so far....the U.S., Iraq, Lebanon and Israel.

Don’t lecture me about a "tough-guy image" better that than the oh-so tolerant and multilateral to a fault image of moral equivilance poseurs like you constantly front with.

Hooray for "realism"! Beat Bush! Let the bodies bit the floor!

 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
So we got the State Dept (ISG), criticising the military for the ineptness of the State Dept (CPA), who spent a year sitting in the green zone planning in a vacuum, and planning w/o the input of the military, and not even allowing Sanchez or Abizaid access to some meetings that some Ivy League puke 2 years out of school in his first job WERE allowed to attend. Now that is ironic.

The military didn’t make this mess, State and the Administration did. The military didn’t want to disband the Iraqi military or police and didn’t want to kick all the Baathe guys out of their jobs (And the CPA eventually reversed their decision). The military also said they needed more troops to govern Iraq, and this was even BEFORE the invasion. The CPA (State Dept) also caused the rise of al-Sadr through closing al-Sadr’s newspaper in an-Najaf, despite the military’s past objections, and w/o even informing the military.

Yeah, but it’s the military’s fault, right?
 
Written By: civdiv
URL: http://
Absent the threat to themselves, I imagine that quite a few Iraqi politicians would compete to be seen as the first ones to formally ask foreign forces to leave.

As ripostes go, this one ain’t bad. But, like I said, the Iraqi government officials who aren’t to one extent or another in our pocket have already had that competition. It was over by 2004.

I’m sure that among the political elite, it’s nice to have guards who won’t shoot them in the back, but that only encourages the disconnect between them and the democratic masses. In other words, it guarantees their political discrediting.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
How many countries are you willing to betray for your anti-war agenda?

So, while we’re actively involved in shooting and bombing Iraqis, other Iraqis who kill each other don’t count as "betrayed", but when we stop shooting and bombing Iraqis, Iraqis who kill each other suddenly become our fault, huh? Do I have that right?

Have you looked - and I’m talking ever, at any point in your life, at a poll of what the average Iraqi actually wants from us? Our does that only get in the way of beating up the mass-murdering liberals in your head?
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://

 
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