"Tonight, President Bush outlined a status quo strategy that leaves at least 130,000 American soldiers in harm's way as part of a 10-year occupation of Iraq. The American people reject the president's call for an 'enduring relationship' with Iraq that is based on leaving our troops in the middle of a deadly civil war for at least 10 years. The president failed to answer how maintaining 130,000 soldiers in Iraq would strengthen our military, make us safer, or how he would pay for its additional $700 billion cost."
"After almost five years, tonight was just more of the same. It's not progress nor is it the strategy for success our troops deserve. And as long as President Bush keeps them in harm's way without clear purpose or achievable goals, Democrats will keep fighting to responsibly end this war."
“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.
“Months ago, House and Senate Democratic leaders suggested to the President that he implement one of the Study Group’s chief recommendations – to change the primary mission of U.S. troops in Iraq from combat to training and support, which would enable the redeployment of U.S. forces to begin. Now that the Study Group has endorsed this proposal, I hope that the President will recognize that he must take our policy in Iraq in a new direction.
“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.”
“The Iraq Study Group has done a tremendous and historic service to the American people and to the troops serving in harm’s way in Iraq. Their report underscores the message the American people sent one month ago: there must be change in Iraq, and there is no time to lose. It is time for the Iraqis to build and secure their nation, and it is time for American combat troops to be redeployed.
“Each day the situation in Iraq continues to deteriorate. Yesterday, Defense Secretary Nominee Robert Gates said ‘we’re not winning.’ Today, the Iraq Study Group said Iraq is ‘grave and deteriorating.’ Like the Iraq Study Group, I urge the President to change course. He will find Congress ready and willing to work with him. The Senate will do its part next year and conduct strong oversight to ensure the President carries out an effective change in policy. Our troops in Iraq, including hundreds of Nevadans, have sacrificed so much. It is time for President Bush to reward their effort by bringing the country together around a new way forward.”
So what did the Iraq Study Group recommend as far as a strategy for our military?
A little review is in order. In terms of security and it’s relevance, the ISG said:
In a major effort to quell the violence in Iraq, U.S. military forces joined with Iraqi forces to establish security in Baghdad with an operation called “Operation Together Forward II,” which began in August 2006. Under Operation Together Forward II, U.S. forces are working with members of the Iraqi Army and police to “clear, hold, and build” in Baghdad, moving neighborhood by neighborhood. There are roughly 15,000 U.S. troops in Baghdad.
This operation—and the security of Baghdad—is crucial to security in Iraq more generally. A capital city of more than 6 million, Baghdad contains some 25 percent of the country’s population. It is the largest Sunni and Shia city in Iraq. It has high concentrations of both Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias. Both Iraqi and American leaders told us that as Baghdad goes, so goes Iraq.
The results of Operation Together Forward II are disheartening. Violence in Baghdad—already at high levels—jumped more than 43 percent between the summer and October 2006. U.S. forces continue to suffer high casualties. Perpetrators of violence leave neighborhoods in advance of security sweeps, only to filter back later. Iraqi police have been unable or unwilling to stop such infiltration and continuing violence. The Iraqi Army has provided only two out of the six battalions that it promised in August would join American forces in Baghdad. The Iraqi government has rejected sustained security operations in Sadr City.
Security efforts will fail unless the Iraqis have both the capability to hold areas that have been cleared and the will to clear neighborhoods that are home to Shiite militias.
U.S. forces can “clear” any neighborhood, but there are neither enough U.S. troops present nor enough support from Iraqi security forces to “hold” neighborhoods so cleared. The same holds true for the rest of Iraq. Because none of the operations conducted by U.S. and Iraqi military forces are fundamentally changing the conditions encouraging the sectarian violence, U.S. forces seem to be caught in a mission that has no foreseeable end.
So there is the problem as defined by the ISG. Security in Baghdad is critical. "As Baghdad goes, so goes Iraq." The ISG says we don't have enough troops there to do the job of securing the city.
Moving on here are what the ISG sees as the effect of that:
The State Department leads seven Provincial Reconstruction Teams operating around the country. These teams can have a positive effect in secure areas, but not in areas where their work is hampered by significant security constraints.
It now has 25 PRTs and EPRTs and they have reported that the better security in recent months has significantly increased their ability to do their jobs.
So given the problem and the effect, what did the ISG conclude?
Despite a massive effort, stability in Iraq remains elusive and the situation is deteriorating.
The Iraqi government cannot now govern, sustain, and defend itself without the support of the United States. Iraqis have not been convinced that they must take responsibility for their own future. Iraq’s neighbors and much of the international community have not been persuaded to play an active and constructive role in supporting Iraq. The ability of the United States to shape outcomes is diminishing. Time is running out.
Given that the ISG felt that time was running out, what did it recommend concerning the utilization and mission of US troops?
First, here's one thing it didn't recommend at all but seems to be the first choice among many Democrats, to include Pelosi and Reid:
Because of the importance of Iraq, the potential for catastrophe, and the role and commitments of the United States in initiating events that have led to the current situation, we believe it would be wrong for the United States to abandon the country through a precipitate withdrawal of troops and support. A premature American departure from Iraq would almost certainly produce greater sectarian violence and further deterioration of conditions, leading to a number of the adverse consequences outlined above. The near-term results would be a significant power vacuum, greater human suffering, regional destabilization, and a threat to the global economy. Al Qaeda would depict our withdrawal as a historic victory. If we leave and Iraq descends into chaos, the long-range consequences could eventually require the United States to return.
Before anyone tries to claim that isn't the position of Democrats, I'd point out that it is precisely the position of the "Out of Iraq Now" caucus of Democratic reps in the House and that of a significant number of Democratic Senators as well, not to mention the Netroots, MoveOn, etc.
What did the ISG recommend as to the utilization and mission of our troops?
Because of the importance of Iraq to our regional security goals and to our ongoing fight against al Qaeda, we considered proposals to make a substantial increase (100,000 to 200,000) in the number of U.S. troops in Iraq. We rejected this course because we do not believe that the needed levels are available for a sustained deployment. Further, adding more American troops could conceivably worsen those aspects of the security problem that are fed by the view that the U.S. presence is intended to be a long-term “occupation.” We could, however, support a short term redeployment or surge of American combat forces to stabilize Baghdad, or to speed up the training and equipping mission, if the U.S. commander in Iraq determines that such steps would be effective.
The ISG apparently considered the surge a recommended change of mission and strategy with at least a chance of success, given the fact that it thought time was running out and action needed to be taken quickly.
So militarily the recommended ISG action was taken, their point that "as goes Baghdad, so goes Iraq" was considered and adopted, and the appropriate new strategy, COIN, was implemented in an effort to secure Baghdad and enable the political process. Additionally, more troops were committed to training Iraqi troops to speed up that process.
And the promised bi-partisan support from the Democratic leaders who touted the ISG's recommendations and promised help with their implementation?
I refer you to the first two quotes found in this post.
God bless Pelosi and Reid! Bushnazi and Rovetron2000 continue to keep the war ongoing for Halliburton and profits for BIG OIL. But what can you expect from a draft dodging white knuckle drink who only cares about continuing the war because Jeebus told him to? WITHDRAW NOW!
Joel, don’t feel too bad. We’re caught in an era that’s beyond parody.
I tried to parody Democratic Underground once back in 2005, and the only funny parts were the names I made up for the posters (e.g. "Tourette’s Political Child"). The rest sounded entirely too much like real posters, despite my attempts at parody and exaggeration.