Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Will The ISG Report On Iraq Change US Policy?

Today the Iraq Study Group released it's much anticipated report on Iraq, which was given to President Bush early this morning in Washington D.C.

Key recommendations are as follows [ Source : CNN ]
• Change diplomatic and military missions
• Engage Iran and Syria to address border, insurgency and reconciliation issues
• Renew commitment to comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace and provide additional support to Afghanistan as part of regional approach
• Evolve U.S. military role to support Iraqi Army units as Iraq moves to take responsibility for security sooner
• Move all U.S. combat brigades not needed for protection out of Iraq by first quarter of 2008
• Make no open-ended commitment to Iraq to keep large numbers of U.S. troops in Iraq
• Improve Iraq's criminal justice system, oil sector, U.S. reconstruction efforts
• Implement recommendations in coordinated fashion

Read PDF of full report on CNN.Com.

These are suggestions that certain journalist, bloggers and Democrats have suggested in the past, this report offers nothing new, except that it comes from the hands of a bipartisan panel, which may help give the document more weight.

Now that the report has been released the next big question is will President Bush accept any of the advice which has been offered to him?

My other question is, has President Bush been shown enough opposition from both Republicans and Democrats to put him in the position that he is forced to change the course he has so readily stayed?

I don't believe so, but I would love to be proven wrong.

Suggestions in the report include to renew US commitment to comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace, a process that has been largely abandoned in recent years.

The conflict is a constant source of animosity for many moderate and extremist Arabs alike. Neutralizing the Arab-Israeli conflict is essential to the struggle against terrorism and must be adequately and fairly addressed if goals of peace in the Middle East are sincere.

Also included are suggestions that the United States engage with Iran and Syria regarding the porous borders, their contribution to the insurgency and reconciliation, presumably between Sunni and Shia factions, as well as nationally. My question is how does anyone actually see that as being realistic? Sure, it sounds nice, but...

Furthermore, what would posses the Iranians, avowed enemy of the United States for decades now, to help the Americans and the Iraqi's, when both countries have been Iran's enemy in the past? Taking it a step further, if the Iranians did help, would that not be basically handing the keys of Mesopotamia over to what could become an Iranian superpower on it's way to being a nuclear superpower?

The report also suggests for the US to gradually evolve U.S. military role to support Iraqi Army units, something we have are already attempting do to.

In my view it is not the number of Iraqi forces that is inadequate, it is the quality of these forces that is inadequate. While some are brave individuals working to salvage their country others are loyal to sectarian militias, and some Iraqi's have, specifically in al-Anbar province complained that US troops treat them more humanely than Iraqi forces, who are often from out of the area.

What is needed is more oversight of Iraqi forces, training that does not only involve weapons training but ethics training. Better organization is needed so it is known what forces are operating in what areas and what times, making it easier to determine who is responsible for the infamous death squads in police and military uniform.

The report also recommends making no open-ended commitment to keep large numbers of U.S. troops in Iraq. I haven't heard that one before, I haven't heard the Democrats saying one that for years now...

Improving Iraq's criminal justice system, oil sector, and U.S. reconstruction efforts are also on the ISG's laundry list of things to do.

What "criminal justice" system is this report talking about? I have heard that Iraqi's often do not even report kidnappings and murders because they do not trust the police. If there was some type of effective criminal justice system there is no way all this violence could continue unchecked. Improve the system? I think you need to create it first.

Oil sector and reconstruction efforts? This is the part of the report that entities like Halliburton are waiting for. This is where their big money lies, when they charge the US taxpayers for jobs they never do and still win contact after contact for the "reconstruction" effort. Their guys on the ground making ~ $17,000 (US) a month while US soldiers get about $2,000 (US) a month. The comparison is a travesty, so who do you think wants the war to continue? The US soldiers or defense contractors and mercenaries?

It is important that the oil sector be repaired and protected, but not for the benefit of America but for the benefit of Iraq, this money can be used to improve infastructure and living conditions of Iraqi's. Suggestions should have been made to reduce or eliminate Iraqi debt and to offer low interest loans to the country for security and infastructure related expenditures.

However, the most disappointing thing about the report is that none of the suggestions actually seem to be new, and furthermore it is doubtful if President Bush, the Vice President Cheney and their new Rummy - Robert Gates will actually implement the much needed changes.

When receiving the report this morning President Bush craftily stated that he would "consider all suggestions" in the report, but did not in any way indicate support or agreement with the reports assessment.