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News Analysis: The Iraq Study Group and the War

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

The Iraq Study Group released a report that many annalists predicted they would release. An almost complete (but not overly stinging) report on the way the Bush Administration has handled the Iraq War and how it should change course. I myself am working on my own blog series on the Iraq War and will continue to write the series, right now I’m writing part III of a ten part series and have already written parts I and II. The analysis of this bipartisan commission was relatively spot on. Before the war started I would argue with people that almost no matter what would happen we would be stuck in Iraq for years because all occupations tend to fall by the way side naturally. History has shown this numerous times, especially with Algeria and Vietnam. This is the Reason why Bush 41, George Herbert Walker Bush, decided to not invade Baghdad during the First Gulf War, he even wrote in his memoirs that it would have lead to a disaster and that American troops would still be in the country to this day (he wrote that piece around 1997 or so). Essentially we find ourselves where we were in 1970 in Vietnam. Earlier war opponents, such as Senator Mansfield, argued to pull troops out of the country, but people like him were meet with criticism and called “soft on communism” and that we couldn’t leave “until the job was done.” For this war people like Rep. Murtha have called for immediate troop withdrawals and were criticized and called “soft on terrorism” and that we wouldn’t leave “until the job was done.” And yet when we look at history we did end up withdrawing from Vietnam and the French did end up withdrawing from Algiers and the reason why some many lives were lost was because nobody had the courage to withdraw the troops earlier when it would have made more sense too. Now we have a report essentially telling us the same thing, to withdraw, because the situation is so dire that, as one of the head chairmen said, it might not ever be fixed. Now Bush and Blair, after years of stating the same thing over and over, are finally willing to “change course” despite the seemingly contradictory change in their rhetoric and for criticizing their opponents for saying the same thing.

North America:

Christian Science Monitor (U.S.)
Dec. 7, 2006
Iraq Study Group: Shift Mission, Go Regional
By Howard LaFranchi

Amid signs of deepening difficulty and waning American influence in Iraq, the congressionally mandated Iraq Study Group unveiled a set of recommendations Wednesday ranging from a broader regional diplomatic effort to more emphasis on training Iraqi security forces.

The report – available online and as a 160-page book in bookstores – avoids some controversial proposals. This reflects the panel’s bipartisan makeup as well as a desire not to be dismissed by the White House out of hand. But it does call for increased pressure on the Iraqi government to make progress in key areas of reconciliation and governability – and to withdraw US support if progress is not made…(Read More)

New York Times
Dec. 6, 2006
Panel Calls for New Approach to Iraq
By David E. Sanger

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6 — A bipartisan commission warned on Wednesday that “the situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating,” and handed President Bush both a rebuke of his current strategy and a detailed blueprint for a fundamentally different approach, including the pullback of all American combat brigades over the next 15 months.

In unusually sweeping and blunt language, the panel of 10 Republicans and Democrats issued 79 specific recommendations, including a call for direct negotiations with Syria and Iran and a clear declaration that the United States would reduce its support to Iraq unless that weak and divided government makes “substantial progress” on reconciliation and security in coming months…(Read More)

Washington Post
Dec. 6, 2006
Conditions in Iraq “Deteriorating,” Panel Says
By William Branigin, Josh White, and Robin Wright

Faced with what it described as “deteriorating” conditions in Iraq and the prospect that a “slide toward chaos” could topple the Baghdad government, a bipartisan panel urged President Bush today to fundamentally change the U.S. military mission in Iraq and launch a new diplomatic effort involving the country’s neighbors, including Iran and Syria.

In a long-awaited report presented to Bush and Congress, the Iraq Study Group warned that “current U.S. policy is not working,” and it recommended shifting the basic U.S. military mission in Iraq from combat to training…(Read More)

The Toronto Star
Dec. 7, 2006
Iraq Report Offers Exit Strategy
By Tim Harper

WASHINGTON—A blue ribbon panel has handed U.S. President George W. Bush a grim assessment of his failed Iraq war, calling the situation “grave and deteriorating” but offering him a lifeline to avert catastrophe.

The Iraq Study Group, headed by former U.S. secretary of state James Baker and onetime 9/11 co-chair Lee Hamilton, makes no mention of potential victory in Iraq, serves up no bromides about exporting democracy to the region and makes no promises the situation will not devolve into total chaos…(Read More)

Middle East:

Haaretz (Israel)
Dec. 7, 2006
Syrian FM: No solution to Iraq’s problems without Iran and Syria
By Haaretz Service and News Agencies

Syria welcomed the Iraq Study Group report on Thursday, praising its emphasis on the need to settle the Arab-Israeli conflict and reiterating that Syria’s priority is to regain the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

The comments by an unidentified Syrian Foreign Ministry official contrasted sharply with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s earlier remark that Israel rejected the report’s linkage of the Arab-Israeli dispute with the conflict in Iraq. Olmert also rejected the report’s recommendation that Israel revive negotiations with Syria…(Read More)

Daily Star (Lebanon)
Dec. 7, 2006
Iraq Report Gives Bush a Last Chance to Salvage His Reputation

The long-awaited report of Washington’s Iraq Study Group is now in the public domain, and while it offers no surefire remedies, it does represent an opportunity to cure the severe case of denial from which US President George W. Bush’s administration has been suffering. The report amounts to a comprehensive indictment of American strategy in Iraq and recommends a series of changes, including a few that directly contradict some of the White House’s most dearly held convictions. It is clear, however, that Washington’s approaches to Iraq and the broader Middle East have been a colossal and costly failure. The best course to take is by no means obvious, but the need to abandon the current one is precisely that…(Read More)

Al Jazeera (Qatar)
Dec. 7, 2006
Mixed Reaction to Iraq Report

Syria’s vice-president has said that his country and its ally, Iran, are prepared to help stabilise Iraq.

“The two countries are Iraq’s neighbours, and without getting them involved it will not be easy to find a solution to the predicament in Iraq,” Farouq al-Sharaa told a political conference in Damascus on Wednesday…(Read More)

South Asia:

Times of India
Dec. 7, 2006
US Underreported Iraq Violence

WASHINGTON: US military and intelligence officials have systematically underreported the violence in Iraq in order to suit the Bush administration’s policy goals, the bipartisan Iraq Study Group said.

In its report on ways to improve the US approach to stabilizing Iraq, the group recommended Wednesday that the director of national intelligence and the secretary of defence make changes in the collection of data about violence to provide a more accurate picture…(Read More)

The Daily Star (Bangladesh)
Dec. 8, 2006
Iran Cautions Over US Report Seeking Engagement
By Reuters

Iran has responded cautiously to proposals for the United States to engage its foe directly, as analysts say Tehran waits to see whether President George W Bush embraces the idea and what concessions it can win.

The US bipartisan Iraq Study Group called on Wednesday for a new diplomatic push by Washington, including urging the United States to deal directly with Iraq’s neighbours, Iran and Syria…(Read More)

Dawn (Pakistan)
Dec. 7, 2006
Withdrawal of US Troops in 15 Months Urged: Iraq Study Group Presents Report
By Anwar Iqbal

WASHINGTON, Dec 6: The long-awaited Iraq Study Group report, delivered to President George Bush on Wednesday morning, urges the US administration to withdraw all combat troops from Iraq by the first quarter of 2008.

The 142-page report also urges the Bush administration to engage Iran and Syria in its pursuit for a peaceful solution to the Iraqi crisis…(Read More)

Latin America:

Buenos Aires Herald
Dec. 7, 2006
Change Iraq Policy Now

After more than three years, 2,900 US soldiers killed and 400 billion dollars spent, the United States is confronting a ‘‘grave and deteriorating’’ situation in Iraq, where victory cannot be assured and even greater bloodshed is possible, a bipartisan group of seasoned trouble-shooters reported yesterday.

The US military should speed up training for Iraqi security forces to enable withdrawal of up to 75,000 offensive US combat troops within 16 months, the Iraq Study Group told US President George W. Bush in a sweeping and scathing indictment of his ‘‘stay the course’’ strategy.
The panel led by former secretary of state James A. Baker III and former House International Relations Committee chairman Lee Hamilton, D-Ind., told Bush that his 45-month-old campaign in Iraq relying on 140,000 US troops was ‘‘not working’’ and required ‘‘a new way forward.’’…(Read More)

Eastern Africa:

Daily Naiton (Kenya)
Dec. 7, 2006
Panel Urges Bush to Begin Pullout
By Reuters

The Iraq Study Group today recommended that US forces begin to withdraw from combat in Iraq and called for a new diplomatic and political push to improve a “grave and deteriorating” situation.

US President George W. Bush said he would take the report “very seriously” after meeting with the bipartisan group, but the White House has made clear he will not be bound by its conclusions and has begun its own review of Iraq policy…(Read More)

Southern Africa:

Mail & Guardian (South Africa)
Dec. 7, 2006
Bush Told: Alter Iraq Policy or Risk Disaster

United States President George Bush was warned on Wednesday that his policy in Iraq was “not working” and that to have a chance of avoiding a regional disaster he would have to repudiate much of the foreign policy he has pursued over the past six years.

In stark language, the long awaited bipartisan Iraq Study Group (ISG) called for US combat troops to be withdrawn by early 2008 in parallel with comprehensive Middle East peace negotiations that would include talks with Iran and Syria on Iraq’s future, a conference on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a land-for-peace deal between Israel and Syria…(Read More)


The Guardian (U.K.)
Dec. 8, 2006
Bush-Blair Split Over Report’s Key Proposals
By Julian Borger

George Bush yesterday rejected key recommendations made by the Iraq Study Group, revealing important differences with Tony Blair, who embraced the proposals put forward by the US bipartisan commission.

Those differences became clear after the two leaders met at the White House.

President Bush flatly contradicted the ISG’s proposal that Iran and Syria be included in regional talks aimed at ending Iraq’s worsening civil war. He restated the White House position that talks with Tehran were conditional on the Iranians stopping uranium enrichment, while contacts with Damascus would depend on an end to Syrian destabilisation of Lebanon and a cessation of arms and money flows over the border to Iraqi insurgents…(Read More)

International Herald Tribune (France)
Dec. 7, 2006
Bush Resists Idea of Troop Withdrawl
By Brian Knowlton

WASHINGTON: President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair on Thursday welcomed the Baker- Hamilton report on Iraq, with its notion of a concerted new push for Middle East peace, but the president distanced himself from the ideas of a quick troop withdrawal or of holding talks with Iran or Syria unless they changed their behavior.

At an hourlong news conference with his closest ally in the Iraq war, Bush cut short a reporter when his question suggested that the president did not realize how serious the situation in Iraq had become…(Read More)

Southeast Asia:

Philippine Daily Inquirer
Dec. 8, 2006
Iraq Study Group Finds Bush War Policies Wrong

WASHINGTON — President George W. Bush’s war policies have failed in almost every regard, the bipartisan Iraq Study Group concluded, and it warned of dwindling chances to change course before crisis turns to chaos.

Nearly four years and $400 billion into a deeply unpopular war that has killed tens of thousands of Iraqis and more than 2,900 Americans, violence is bad and getting worse, success is not guaranteed, and the consequences of failure are great, the panel of five Republicans and five Democrats said in a bleak accounting of US and Iraqi shortcomings…(Read More)

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New York Times

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