Iraq Survey Group report: reduce troop levels

The word is in from the Iraq Survey Group, says the New York Times, and they’re going to recommend that at some undefined point, probably next year, the U.S. start reducing its troop levels in Iraq. No timetables are involved.

Here’s the NYT’s article.

My question is, will this have any impact? In recent days, Bush has said he won’t pull back the troops until the mission is complete - which sounds to me like the old reality-denying rhetoric of yesteryear. Is he going to listen to the survey group?

Also, will the recommendations be effective? Are they too down-the-middle to make a difference?

Wow. If that article is correct, the recommendation is even mushier than I thought it would be.

I also thought they would give 2 or 3 options rather than just one. Anyway, I wasn’t expecting much substance from this group, considering that a concensus had to be gotten from the 10 people invloved, and many of the members have little, if any, foreign policy or military experience. Sandra Day O’Conner, Vernon Jordan, Ed Meese, and Leon Panetta are all smart folks, I’m sure, but what do they know about prosecuting a war?

The Pentagon is also supposed to issue its own report soon, so I think Bush will pay the ISG some lip service and then keep doing what it wants.

Here in the UK, when the Government is in a mess and needs to appear to be doing something, it sets up a Royal Commission.

Naturally these distinguished bodies require time to carefully consider all the infornation and decide on a course of action.
And their recommendations are not binding.
But it does buy politicians some time when they are in the deep doo-doo…“We are doing something! We’ve set up a Commission!”

As for the recommendation from the ISG that ‘at some undefined point, probably next year, the U.S. start reducing its troop levels in Iraq’, I heard that down the pub a few years ago.
Perhaps the ISG could suggest that ‘Iraq needs to take control of its own security and reduce the number of violent incidents’ or ‘Iraq needs a strong leadership’ or something like that. :rolleyes:

They aren’t telling him what he wants to hear…so what do you think?

“Okay, guys. Thanks for your suggestions, you Medals of Freedom are in the mail.”


They are pretty much stating what I’ve come to see as the best course myself, and I have made similar statements myself from time to time right here…and yet, I have to say I’m less than thrilled with the way they are doing it. It seems pretty nebulous of a ‘plan’ to me. I mean, when I make such statements here on a message board, its all well and good…I’m SUPPOSED to be brief and nebulous. Its what XT’s do best. But I would have hoped for something with a bit more meat on the bone myself…since they were getting paid for it and all. :stuck_out_tongue: I haven’t read through the whole thing yet, just skimmed it…but I have to admit, I’m a bit disappointed.


Bush: “So we’ll be in Iraq until the job is complete, at the request of a sovereign government elected by the people. I know there’s a lot of speculation that these reports in Washington mean there’s going to be some kind of graceful exit out of Iraq. We’re going to stay in Iraq to get the job done, so long as the government wants us there.”

And the job is done when Bush decides it’s done. He is, afterall, The Decider.

Of course, time is exactly what we’ve run out of in Iraq. One of the failures of the ISG was in simply taking most of the year to come up with recommendations. At this point, it hardly matters what they recommend, because Iraq’s spun out of anyone’s control.

Patrick Cockburn says the ‘Saigon moment’ approaches:

Sounds like more of the same, then. Maybe Bush will be pressured to implement the recommendations - I’m sure that’s what the Democrats were hoping to do - but if there’s nothing specific, that won’t make much difference.

I HAVE read it, and it boils down to two things, IMO.

  1. We should, like, pull troops back to some other places at some unspecified time in the future.

  2. Dubya should totally stop telling the regions leaders to go fuck themselves if they don’t want to do it in his preferred way.

Number One could fit with the “Out of Iraq immediately” strategy or the Dubya, “Whenever I feel like it” strategy.

Number Two is something anyone other than the most hardcore neanderthal neocons has been completely aware of for years now.

Way to go Baker and Co - you’ve produced the most weak-kneed report you could have.


Bush Vows No Graceful Exit

Yeah…I’m sure I’m not the only person who thought, “I believe you Georgie. Not a chance in hell it’ll be graceful.”


When first I read about Bush’s statements blaming AlQ for the “sectarian violence”, I thought he was simply being stupid. But I’m seeing ominous developments.

I have long been saying that the worst consequence of continued presence in Iraq was the possibility, even inevitablility, that American forces would be forced to pick a side. As has been noted, several trial balloons along those lines have been surfacing lately, and it makes a ghastly sort of sense.

Throwing our lot in with the Shia majority would, in cold fact, be in line with the wishes of the “legitimate Iraqi government”, which, for various reasons, is dominated by Shia, who are in turn beholden to Shia hard-liners like al Sadr. It also true that crushing the Sunni insurgency would likely result in a kind of “stability”, in the same way that graveyards are peaceful places. All we need do is define the insurgency along sectarian lines, and turn a blind eye to Shia oppression of the Sunni, while offering faint hope that it doesn’t result in a genocidal massacre.

And we could begin to immediately draw down our forces in Iraq: the Shia have a sufficiency of force, and could call for airstrikes, etc. It would also be diplomaticly stressful to have our soldiers in a position to directly witness precisely what a “counter insurgency” program will mean.

The groundwork is being laid. Most Americans dont realize that AlQ is based on Wahabbist theology, a virulently anti-Shia subset of Islam. By blaming AlQ, GeeDub is indirectly indicting the Sunni, suggesting that if the Sunni were not influenced by AlQ, all of this nasty business might end. There are, I understand, already hints from the Saudis that they would feel compelled to protect their co-religionists from a Shia genocide.

Throw our support behind the Shia theocrats, and we could begin withdrawal at once. They don’t need our help, and they don’t want any witnesses. Peace and stability will surely result, the only variable is the cost and the process. It may lead to a regional conflict between Sunni and Shia, or, in other words, everybody else against Iran (the one and only Shia dominated state in the ME, save for Iraq…) How many Iraqis and Iranians would the neo-cons be willing to sacrifice to alter the political map of the ME? With what words of pious dismay will they condemn a regional war against Iran?

I hope I’m wrong.

I don’t think Bush’s AlQ remark was meant to imply that the Sunnis were being influenced by AlQ, but that AlQ was purposely blowing up Shiite targets to incite Shiite reprisals against Sunnis. The best example would be the bonbing of the Gold Dome Mosque in Samara last February. Although I think there is some truth to that line of reasoning, it falls weaaaaaay short of being the cause of the sectarian violence, as he seems to be saying. And even if it were true at an earlier time (which I don’t think it was), the cycle of reprisals is self-sustaining now so that if AlQ in Iraq disappeared tomorrow the sectartin violence would continue.

And it’s a miskate, I think, to assume that Bush is looking around for some way to make an easy exist. He’s bound and determine to succeed in Iraq no matter what it takes, and he’s unwilling to accept the idea that success isn’t possible. He also thinks that success is dependent largely on a military presence in Iraq, and is unwilling or unable to work the diplomatic angle in any substantive way. He has a hammer and the problem in Iraq is a nail.

Some more details I hadn’t heard before: the ISG is recommending that almost all combat troops be withdrawn by early 2008.

Here we go:

No decision has been made, but I expect ‘events on the ground’ will do that for them.

It appears not to be at a “decision” level yet, but more along floating ideas, trial balloons, that sort of thing. Sound for response, see if anyone yells “Bloody murder!” or “Initial ideas and conjectures towards a policy of bloody murder”. Just saw Kato Burns talking a similar line, nicely dressed up, hair brushed, teeth combed. Like the Shia do, in fact, represent the legitimate government of Iraq, and resistance to that legitimate government can be justly oppressed.

Bush’s recent comments are ominous. He suggests that AlQ is largely responsible for fomenting the sectarian strife by provoking vengeance on the part of the Shia, and that if they are out of the equation, peace will naturally result, after the AlQ faction of the illegitimate Sunni insurrection is neutralized. A bit like saying this forest fire was started by this errant match, now that the woods are ablaze, we will remove the match and the fire will go out.

Victory, after all, is a matter of carefully parsed definitions. If the Bushiviks are willing to pretend that setting the foundations for a Shia theocracy and a possible genocide of Sunni heretics is victory, there are many who will echo praise and adulation.

Now, it may very well be that this sort of resolution is inevitable, the Sunni have no credible “force” option, they will lose, and they will be subject to the same oppression that they collectively visited on the Shia. If they’re lucky, that’s as bad as it gets. If they’re lucky.

It could get a lot worse. Most likely will, judging by history. Which is bad enough without the utterly catastrophic potential of having American troops involved. If the Shia want a Wehrmacht, they can by God grow their own!

That’s what’s being said, but President Bush is meeting in Washington with the old head of the Badr Brigade, Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim next Monday. The pres. will meet with Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi will take place next month “to show he’s not choosing sides.”
No, not at all.

Just wonering.has Al-Maliki purchased a villa in Switzerland? :confused:

At the moment, it looks like you were onto something, luci.