As predicted in a previous entry, the Iraq Study Group has made some very obvious findings about the war. The commission, made of Washington insiders, was put together by the President to find a new strategy in Iraq. This strategy has been called for numerous times over the past couple of years. But always the response from the administration has been, "stay the course." The Iraq Study Group has done away with all that. But still its findings lead to the same conclusions many of us already knew, the situation in Iraq sucks.
One of the most controversial parts of the groups plan is the idea of "a diplomatic offensive." This plan calls for the US to get involved with Iraq's neighbors to try and resolved this conflict. The administration has said time and again that it will not talk with Iran and Syria. Bush does not want to have anything to do with them. But the Study Group disagrees. According to their report, " if we don't talk to them, we don't see much progress being made." "You can't look at this part of the world and pick and choose which countries you're going to deal with." So the US will have to bite the bullet and get to work with these talks.
While many were hoping for a more clear timetable on troop withdrawal, the Study Group did not delivery. Instead, the group blasted the administration's philosophy of "stay the course" by announcing that, "by the first quarter of 2008, subject to unexpected developments in the security situation on the ground, all combat brigades not necessary for force protection could be out of Iraq." This comes as a relief to many families wondering if their troops will ever come home for good. And if the plan is followed, the vast majority will by 2008.
Though Bush's buddies made up the majority of this group, they were quick to point out the failures of the current administration policy. Speaking of the policy the group said, "the current approach is not working and the ability of the United States to influence events is diminishing." "Our ship of state has hit rough waters. It must now chart a new way forward." Which is what many. many people have been saying for months. It comes as no surprise because it has been obvious for awhile now that "stay the course" is not working. But our hard-headed president would not change. His arrogance has cost lives. If this commission had been established three years ago, we might not be in Iraq today.
The main focus of the report was the current state of affairs in Iraq. With the civil war situation, the study group (which did not call it a civil war) gave this warning to the administration, "The United States must not make an open-ended commitment to keep large numbers of American troops deployed in Iraq." "If the situation continues to deteriorate, the consequences could be severe. A slide toward chaos could trigger the collapse of Iraq's government and a humanitarian catastrophe. Neighboring countries could intervene. Sunni-Shia clashes could spread. Al Qaeda could win a propaganda victory and expand its base of operations. The global standing of the United States could be diminished. Americans could become more polarized." A statement that, again, has been made many times before.
Why has it taken this group to make the administration wake up about the war? Is it because of Rumsfeld? I doubt it. Is it because of Uncle Dick? I don't think so. What it boils down to is sheer arrogance in military command from the White House. The generals are bound by law to listen to the president. But he is not bound by law to listen to them. No one in the media can make a truthful claim to know what generals have told the White House. But I would bet it wasn't good. And I would also bet no one really listened. But now maybe things will change. I think the goal of 2008 is a good one. And I also think that it will look good with Republican voters if our lame-duck president brings the troops home before the presidential election. His party could use the help. But, as always, we will have to wait and see.