Iraq Study Group Finds Options Are Limited




 
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Boots
 
December 6th, 2006  
Team Infidel
 
 

Topic: Iraq Study Group Finds Options Are Limited


Wall Street Journal
December 6, 2006
Pg. 4

By Neil King Jr., Yochi J. Dreazen and Greg Jaffe
As the Iraq Study Group prepares to release recommendations today, the panel and the Bush administration are broadcasting a similar message: There are no dramatic fixes to end the war or to get U.S. troops home in a hurry.
The group's long-awaited report, people familiar with the matter say, will describe the situation in Iraq as deteriorating, but will acknowledge that its own recommendations are flawed and far from a magic solution. The panel plans to put the main focus on the need to launch an immediate effort to gain international support for rescuing Iraq, including from nettlesome neighbors Syria and Iran.
At the same time, the group will argue that the U.S. should redouble its effort to train the Iraqi army while diminishing its own military presence there largely to an advising and support role, with an eye toward pulling out all combat units by the first three months of 2008. Tens of thousands of U.S. troops will likely remain.
During the past few months, Democrats vying in congressional elections had talked up the possibility of beginning an immediate troop withdrawal, and anticipation had been high that the Iraq Study Group might offer some unexpected solutions. Now, most factions in Washington seem to agree that the room for maneuvering in Iraq is narrow and that any changes in U.S. strategy are likely to come largely on the margins.
Former Democratic Rep. Lee Hamilton, who is co-chairman of the bipartisan group with former Secretary of State James Baker, made that point to a number of ambassadors and former U.S. officials at a Christmas party Saturday. "The expectations are up here," he said, putting his hand shoulder-high, "while our options are down here." He then lowered his hand below his knees, according to two other guests at the gathering.
The lack of any clear solutions for Iraq underscores the sentiment in Washington that U.S. involvement is likely to continue for years, even without obvious signs of progress.
"We are in a position where, politically, it may soon be impossible to stay in Iraq, but where, strategically, we simply can't leave," said Brent Scowcroft, a former national-security adviser to President George H.W. Bush.
During his Senate confirmation hearing yesterday, Robert Gates, Mr. Bush's nominee for secretary of defense, acknowledged that the U.S. isn't winning in Iraq. "All options are on the table in terms of how we address this problem," he said. The panel later unanimously approved the nomination and moved it to the full Senate for a vote.
Mr. Gates, who was a member of the Baker-Hamilton panel until he was selected to succeed Donald Rumsfeld as Pentagon chief, declined to discuss the timing or size of any potential military withdrawal from Iraq. He also didn't offer specifics about what other options the administration would consider to stem the violence.
Mr. Gates's role on the panel had led many to believe that Mr. Bush might be keen to embrace the group's findings, which will be laid out in a 100-plus-page report. But in recent days, Mr. Bush and his aides have downplayed its importance, depicting the report as just one review among many.
In detailed private briefings, U.S. officials have told close allies that Mr. Bush plans no abrupt shifts in Iraq and will stick by U.S. troop commitments there. Senior U.S. military commanders in Iraq also say no major changes are in the works, arguing that their current strategy will succeed if given enough time.
That strategy aims to shift thousands of U.S. personnel from combat to training-and-advisory roles while temporarily increasing the numbers of American combat personnel in Baghdad to stabilize the city.
The administration is collecting recommendations from the Pentagon, the State Department and the National Security Council. Mr. Bush plans to set out his response in a speech later this month, U.S. officials say. U.S. military officials in Iraq said they expect to hear results of the reviews in January and don't expect major changes in policy. "If there was an easy way to do it, we'd have done it by now," one senior official said.
The report of the 10-member bipartisan group, which began work in April, is titled, "The Way Forward: A New Approach." Yesterday, Mr. Baker briefed Mr. Bush at the White House on the general direction of the report. Officials involved with the panel's work said some members are troubled by the increasing violence in Iraq and worry that their recommendations might make little difference, even if followed.
The recommendations put forward in the report may get a cool reception from the administration. White House officials have said the U.S. would be open to considering negotiations with Tehran if it drops its support for the militant group Hezbollah and agrees to suspend its uranium-enrichment work. But Washington has given little sign of what it would be willing to offer Iran in exchange for help in Iraq. During a visit to Amman, Jordan, last week, Mr. Bush told King Abdullah that "this is not the time for engagement with Syria," a senior administration official said.
The White House has rejected calls for beginning a U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq. Administration officials have said they are committed to maintaining current U.S. troop levels there indefinitely.
The administration's apparent reluctance to make sweeping changes in Iraq reflects two factors, said senior U.S. officials familiar with the deliberations. First, Mr. Bush continues to insist that the U.S. can still win, despite evidence that the initial goal of helping build a stable country with a democratic government capable of enforcing order is out of reach.
Second, Mr. Bush and his top advisers believe the White House can resist political pressures to change course in Iraq for at least a few months, Bush aides said. They said Mr. Bush feels that he has a short window to continue his current policy before the 2008 presidential-election cycle intensifies.
The administration's apparent commitment to largely staying the course in Iraq is certain to trigger debate within the new Democratic majorities in the House and Senate. Democratic lawmakers have coalesced around a proposal by incoming Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D., Mich.) to begin drawing down U.S. forces in the spring. Democratic leaders have said they won't use their power over the nation's purse strings to cut funding for U.S. personnel in Iraq for fear that it would open them up to charges of endangering the troops.
But some Democrats said they will consider reducing the money available for other administration priorities in Iraq -- like continuing small-scale rebuilding projects or training and equipping Iraqi security forces -- if the administration refuses to change course there or if the country slides deeper into conflict.
December 7th, 2006  
phoenix80
 
 
this was a useless report
December 10th, 2006  
tomtom22
 
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by phoenix80
this was a useless report
And that is a "head in the sand" comment.
Not looking at and discussing any and all other possibilities is foolhardy at best. And President G. W. Bush is not that.
--
Boots
December 12th, 2006  
Marinerhodes
 
 
Quote:
Democratic leaders have said they won't use their power over the nation's purse strings to cut funding for U.S. personnel in Iraq for fear that it would open them up to charges of endangering the troops.
Quote:
But some Democrats said they will consider reducing the money available for other administration priorities in Iraq -- like continuing small-scale rebuilding projects or training and equipping Iraqi security forces -- if the administration refuses to change course there or if the country slides deeper into conflict.
How does this not endanger the troops on the ground in the long run?

If you refuse to train/equip the Iraq troops then you open them up even moreso to subversion by the enemy. Keep them equipped, trained(busy) and instill in them a sense of pride and they will not be as open to betraying their compatriots and US personnel. Not to mention the added burden of security on the US forces.

The rebuilding projects will help to create more work and give the people a sense of pride in their community. Building a more solid and friendly relationship with the indigenous population is always a plus. Take all that away and you will have a population that will do what it has to just to get by.

So again I pose the question: How will this not hurt the troops in the long run?
 


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