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Reactions to the Iraq Study Group report
December 15, 2006 12:07 PM   Subscribe

Getting out of Iraq: the Iraq Study Group report recommended talking to Iran and Syria, and making continued US military and economic support conditional on progress by the Iraqi government. "U.S. foreign policy is doomed to failure—as is any course of action in Iraq—if it is not supported by a broad, sustained consensus. The aim of our report is to move our country toward such a consensus." Reaction from Democrats has been generally positive; reaction from Republicans has been divided between moderates and hawks (the New York Post called Baker and Hamilton "surrender monkeys"). Bush quickly rejected talks with Iran and Syria. The White House has been arguing about how to proceed. Previously.
posted by russilwvong (50 comments total)

According to various leaks The plan is to send more troups.
posted by delmoi at 12:11 PM on December 15, 2006

I'm glad they're bickering amongst themselves because that occasionally means actual thinking may also be going on, but I'm sorta bummed they don't want to speak to the neighbors about it. I wonder why the ISG didn't include Jordan? They're absorbing a lot of fleeing Iraqi middle-class refugees.
posted by pax digita at 12:20 PM on December 15, 2006

I guess that election we had to decide what the American people wanted about Iraq was pretty much ignored. Oh well.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:23 PM on December 15, 2006

B.P: The congress can't really do anything other then cut funding, or Impeach the guy.
posted by delmoi at 12:25 PM on December 15, 2006

Limbaugh has dubbed Baker, et. al., the "Iraq Surrender Group." I am sure that the people he's getting his marching orders from have no intention of following any of the suggestions in the study.
posted by Danf at 12:26 PM on December 15, 2006

Yes, apparently Baker now qualifies as a left wing extremist.
posted by R. Mutt at 12:30 PM on December 15, 2006

R. Mutt: That literally made me laugh out loud.
posted by drleary at 12:32 PM on December 15, 2006

Whatever they end up doing, I'm sure it will be as well-planned and implemented as their actions in Iraq to date.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:33 PM on December 15, 2006

Invading Iraq was so fucking punk rock
posted by Flashman at 12:36 PM on December 15, 2006

i had not heard this thanks for the great psot.
posted by boo_radley at 12:36 PM on December 15, 2006

It appears that the hawk team has at long last accepted that we either need to increase troop levels in Iraq or get the hell out. This is an improvement, certainly, over the previous delusion that we could achieve victory (however vaguely defined) with the forces currently in place.

But 'more troops' is only a necessary condition for victory, not a sufficient one. Every six months or so, someone has the "revelation" that we need to spend less time killing Iraqis and more time building Iraqi institutions, primarily security forces. This point gets de-emphasized because I don't think anyone has any idea how to accomplish it.
posted by Nahum Tate at 12:59 PM on December 15, 2006

Our president is getting advice from many quarters but finally he is the one as commander-in-cheif to decide on the wisest course of action. I will trust his judgement and support his decisions. He has our best itnerest in mind
posted by Postroad at 1:01 PM on December 15, 2006

I have to assume Postroad is being ironic in some way that eludes me.
posted by rokusan at 1:31 PM on December 15, 2006

Maybe Bush Co was telling the truth when he said he didn't watch polls.
posted by DenOfSizer at 1:40 PM on December 15, 2006

Why Withdrawal Is Unmentionable
posted by homunculus at 1:46 PM on December 15, 2006

The only choice left is whether to have the helicopter on the embassy roof scene play out now or later.
posted by StarForce5 at 1:48 PM on December 15, 2006

I have a question:

And this is 100% serious, not trolling.

Has anyone in the administration sat down and defined EXACTLY what constitutes victory? And EXACTLY what would be a defeat?

Because I just hear Bush talking about "winning" in Iraq, and I always get this feeling that he thinks it's a Rangers game. I can't recall ever seeing or hearing a clear, consistant point-by-point accounting of what would be a "win" for us.

Just for example, and there are a lot of issues in Iraq: He says we need to "beat" the Terrorists. Ok, that's nice. It's flatly impossible to kill them all. And as they're non-government and only loosely affiliated, a peace treaty with one group might not extend to the others. So what constitutes beating them, exactly?

Because, you know, unless someone has this list of winning and losing scenarios... how in the bloody blazes are we going to know whether sending more troops would do any good?
posted by InnocentBystander at 1:49 PM on December 15, 2006

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan...
posted by homunculus at 1:50 PM on December 15, 2006

I just wish Bush would listen to Barney.
posted by homunculus at 1:53 PM on December 15, 2006

What Nahum Tate said. Plus the fact that we might need a lot more troops, more than 20,000 -- didn't some of the original planners tell Rummy 400,000 might be a good idea instead of his lightmodernflexible force?.

Like it or not, it may be two more years before we get anybody in the Whitehouse, Republican or Democrat, who's capable of constructing or executing sensible policy.
posted by namespan at 1:54 PM on December 15, 2006

President Bush is alot smarter than many think. He began by getting rid of a dictator, Then he brought about a civil war. But he will end that by getting neighboring countries involved in aregionalwar and then, there it is! Iraq is no longer an issue.
posted by Postroad at 1:54 PM on December 15, 2006

I feel like we're living in the Dark Ages. There's simply no escaping our culture's insistence on self-induced ignorance.
posted by surplus at 2:05 PM on December 15, 2006

InnocentBystander, the problem you're having is that you're bringing rational thought to bear on an issue - Bush's definition of "victory" in the War on Terror - that is decidedly irrational.

...what constitutes beating them, exactly?

*sound of gears grinding*
posted by The Card Cheat at 2:15 PM on December 15, 2006

Bush Admin Won't Release Iraq Attack Numbers--... It was produced in December, but it's missing data for the months of September, October and November of this year -- a period of increased violence, according to news reports. What gives?
I called Joseph A. Christoff, the GAO official who produced the document. "I have all [the Pentagon's] data" for those months, he told me. But the military stamped it classified, he said. And despite making weeks of phone calls, he can't convince anyone there to declassify the numbers. ...

posted by amberglow at 2:19 PM on December 15, 2006

Bush needs to get the House of Sauds approval before he can do anything in IRAQ...

This Country is Fucked.
posted by Dreamghost at 2:22 PM on December 15, 2006

Attention lonely unbalanced persons:

I know you THINK the voices are saying "Ronald Reagan" or "John Lennon" or "Versachi." But indeed they are wrong. They are saying "George W Bush." "George W Bush" they say. We know because Jody Foster told us. Remember it is she who gives you your orders.

When you get out of the Facility I think you know what to do next. Jody is depending on you. Good luck.
posted by tkchrist at 2:46 PM on December 15, 2006

“Has anyone in the administration sat down and defined EXACTLY what constitutes victory?”

Perhaps if the objective of the war is something other than the national security or national interest (and thus “winning”) then the tactic would be to maintain the engagement as long as possible despite meeting or not meeting any conditions necessary to resolve this in either victory or defeat.
One rarely suspects an opponent is playing for status quo or stalemate. And if that’s so, the real question would be what purposes then does the war as an ongoing effect serve? And who benefits?
posted by Smedleyman at 3:07 PM on December 15, 2006

Smedleyman: Respectfully, I've read your comment twice and I can't figure out if you're trying to answer or just re-phrase Innocent Bystander's question. Would you mind elaborating?
posted by jaronson at 3:26 PM on December 15, 2006

posted by bardic at 3:38 PM on December 15, 2006

I suspect what smedleyman means is that the administration's definition of "winning" is kept vague because the goal (indefinite war) is undesirable to 99.9% and desirable to .1%.
posted by Aghast. at 3:39 PM on December 15, 2006

Has anyone in the administration sat down and defined EXACTLY what constitutes victory?

Victory in Iraq Defined:
Unlike past wars, however, victory in Iraq will not come in the form of an enemy's surrender, or be signaled by a single particular event -- there will be no Battleship Missouri, no Appomattox. The ultimate victory will be achieved in stages, and we expect:
That's according to the November 2005 National Strategery for Victory in Iraq. Last week, President Bush said, "The objective, I repeat, is a government which can sustain, govern, and defend itself."

Free question for journalists: "Mr. President, in November 2005 you defined a united, democratic Iraq as a condition for victory in Iraq. Is that still an objective?"

September, October and November of this year -- a period of increased violence

December's also a period of increased violence. There have been 51 American KIA this month, at a current rate of 3.4 per day. Other than October 2006 (106 US KIA), this is the highest rate since January 2005. Sixty-nine Americans were killed in Iraq in November 2006.

Seven hundred eight-nine Americans were wounded in September, 776 in October, and 543 in November.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:50 PM on December 15, 2006

When that New York Post cover with the "Surrender Monkeys" came out, it was another new low for that miserable rag. The next day they ran a full page color photo of some slack -jawed shithead from Staten Island , who's brother is in Iraq, wearing army gear standing in front of an american flag with the headlines "Dont Quit". Idiocy.
posted by Liquidwolf at 3:51 PM on December 15, 2006

What Aghast sed is indeed a large component of what I’m saying.
I hate to revert to type but war is indeed a racket. Sometimes it’s a necessary one (clichéd but - WWII f’rinstance). In this case it was (albeit in retrospect to some*) not necessary. Given we are fighting a war that it was not and is not now necessary to fight - who’s benefiting from the war? And who benefits if the war keeps going? And where’s all that money going?

I’m not saying the stated objectives (stable middle east, democracy, eliminating certain terrorist organizations, etc) are unachievable. I’m saying the stated objectives are outright lies - we have been given some very cogent plans and means to achieve them and they have been utterly ignored.
(Philosophically. I have issues with this kind of nation building - in part - do the benefits outweigh the costs. Can it be done? Sure, we built the Panama Canal. But this state of affairs is such that the overseers aren’t listening to the engineers and keep changing the route, not to mention the canal was a certainty in terms of helping trade and other such manifest benefits. Iraq, not so much)

One of the most likely conclusions one can derive from this state of affairs then is that the war in Iraq is being continued for goals other than those in the national interest.
By national interest I mean the people of the U.S., our business as a political entity, the public good, etc. etc.

What would be in our interest is a stable middle east. Well, we had a relatively stable one before we invaded (maybe Hussein wasn’t playing ball the way we’d like him to concerning oil, currency,, but there were other ways around that).
It would further be in the U.S. interest if a government ruled by the will of the people (like, ostensibly, our own) was established in the region.
We have made very little headway towards that goal either. In fact all we’ve seem to accomplish is to raise the national debt. Any good done in Iraq (towards the U.S. national interest) seems to have been done by troops taking the stated goals seriously and doing their best to accomplish them. And that appears to be in spite of, not because of, the administration.

Indeed, this sort of reminds me of when Battista returned to Cuba. The unification of the people of Iraq might ultimately occur because they hate us more than each other.
And if that occurs - who do we fight then?

*From my perspective, the reason I initially supported the war was that I thought Hussein had and was going to use WMDs. Not necessarily on U.S. soil, but he could target U.S. interests, and there are a number of very serious problems if he did have them not to mention Israel’s proven past track record of meeting fanaticism and force with greater fanaticism and force. Plenty of reasons given the premise. And then it so happens that - well, no he didn’t have any and that wasn’t his intent.
Well, anyone that knew anything knew Hussein was a necessary evil (Rummy shook his hand) ‘cause he kept stability in the region. Yes people got tortured and killed under him, but that’s better, sorry to say, than the mass genocide that would occur without him. That is in slow motion in Iraq now, only because we’re there.
Which might well be what was intended.
Step 1 - invade for democracy, WMDs, freedom, anti-terrorism -whatever.
Step 2 - destabilize the stabilizing organization (Husseinco)
Step 3 - become the lynchpin of the region and argue (rightly) that if you leave the region will destabilize.

Anything beyond that is the smoke and mirrors used to hide whatever business you and your cronies might like to do.

It’s a sharper gag than simply arguing “God is on our side” and denouncing your opponents as unpatriotic (although I understand that’s happening as well).

Some bank robbers in small towns start fires to distract the authorities while they pick the vault clean.
We know they’ve taken a few billion from us (a big chunk of change went unaccounted for early on).
I mean who is it you think China is holding all that debt on? Not Bushco. They will leave office having aided their buddies in the business community and tend to their now greatly augmented concerns regardless of the public affairs of the country. If it was even the case that we went to war so people back home would pay less for gas, that would be at least something for the general benefit of the country. Folks might take issue with their kids dying for that, but at least it’d benefit the country. But I don’t see even that happening really.
Much of that is speculative, but I have little doubt given that very few people want war, and very few wanted this war, that the people who did want it had reasons other than pure altruism (as we’ve seen it’s manifestly not directly for defense).
posted by Smedleyman at 5:17 PM on December 15, 2006

(And of course rejecting talks is a dead ringer. You have to maintain contact with your opponents, at the very, very least to spy on them. Engaging Syria - diplomatically - would be a very crucial first step to stability. There is very little question on that. Thus my conjecture that someone wants something other than peace and stability and questioning what there is to gain and who gains it)
posted by Smedleyman at 5:25 PM on December 15, 2006

kirkaracha, while I appreciate the effort, go re-read those goals.

eg, An Iraq that has defeated the terrorists and neutralized the insurgency. Did I not point out that just saying "defeat the terrorists" means nothing? We need a solid, concrete definition of what EXACTLY would constitute a defeat of the terrorists.

Further, it's totally crouched in political babble. Like, Iraq should have a constitutional, elected government in place, providing an inspiring example to reformers in the region,

So, like, if it's not INSPIRING enough, have we lost?

And those other two longer-term goals are ones that could literally be decades in coming. An engine for regional economic growth, and proving the fruits of democratic governance to the region.?!? What is that nonsense?

This document PRECISELY PROVES the point I was making earlier. There are no clearly articulated, concrete guidelines for winning. (or losing) There is no set of standards saying, "When this is accomplished, we go home." If Bush thinks troops will be there until Iraq is INSPIRATIONAL, he's got another thing coming.
posted by InnocentBystander at 5:35 PM on December 15, 2006

When that New York Post cover with the "Surrender Monkeys" came out, it was another new low for that miserable rag. The next day they ran a full page color photo of some slack -jawed shithead from Staten Island , who's brother is in Iraq, wearing army gear standing in front of an american flag with the headlines "Dont Quit". Idiocy.

I saw this in a deli here in Boston while waiting for my food and nearly cancelled it when I saw the cover on the bottom shelf. What should we properly call this nexus of ignorance and pride?
posted by inoculatedcities at 5:42 PM on December 15, 2006

It's good that Republicans and Democrats could come together in a bi-partisan, selfless manner to develop a new strategy for beating the Iraqis into submission.

I've got an idea. Instead of an Iraq study group, how about a study group composed of Iraqis? Since it's their country and everything, how about if we ask them what should be done?
posted by Clay201 at 6:39 PM on December 15, 2006

Smedleyman (and Aghast.): Thanks for the above and beyond elaboration.

Your speculations reminded me of the opening(?) scene from the movie Reds. If you're not familiar with it (paraphrasing, it's been awhile since I've seen it), John Reed is a guest speaker for a small group of important-looking men. He is introduced and is asked to tell them what this war (WW1) is all about. Reed rises up and says, "Profit."

Like InnocentBystander, I too have wanted the US Gov't to be a little (OK, a lot) more clear with regards to US objectives before invading Iraq and with nearly every move since and including the present "I'll Decide When I'm Good 'n Ready" strategy.

I'd like to think I get less cynical with age.

InnocentBystander: Apologies if I'm outta line here, but I don't think kirkaracha was defending the White House's, shall we call them goals or platitudes? My clue was his (generous) "free question for journalists".
posted by jaronson at 6:51 PM on December 15, 2006

Clay201: It is my understanding that the ISG did consult with Iraqis(pdf file), but I don't think it was the Iraqis you meant.
posted by jaronson at 7:08 PM on December 15, 2006

I've got an idea. Instead of an Iraq study group, how about a study group composed of Iraqis? Since it's their country and everything, how about if we ask them what should be done?

Somebody just did.

Reed rises up and says, "Profit."

See also.
posted by dhartung at 7:23 PM on December 15, 2006


Bit more Smedley Butler than Marxism or communism. And definately anti-fascism. Butler had hard practical experiance and first hand knowlege of the profit motive behind warfare. Sort of a spirit-brother for me (while his superiors considered him brave and brilliant, they also described him as unreliable - I can relate)
posted by Smedleyman at 7:49 PM on December 15, 2006

The Iraq Study Group is being facilitated by the United States Institute of Peace, with the support of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Center for the Study of the Presidency, and the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University.
In June of 2006, the Center for Strategic and International Studies issued The Quarterly Report on "Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq:" Fact, Fallacy, and an Overall Grade of "F"(pdf file)
posted by jaronson at 8:44 PM on December 15, 2006

White House Forbids Publication Of Op-Ed On Iran By Former Bush Official
posted by homunculus at 11:32 PM on December 15, 2006

Should anybody listen to a study group that was formed three years after the exam was held?
posted by srboisvert at 3:00 AM on December 16, 2006

The only choice left is whether to have the helicopter on the embassy roof scene play out now or later.

Probably won't happen unless there's a pretty in-depth SEAD package orbiting -- otherwise, Mr. Rooftop Helicopter, say hello to Mr. MANPAD.
posted by pax digita at 7:08 AM on December 16, 2006

We're staying there til the oil is privatized, and we'll have permanent bases there forever to oversee that oil for our Oil companies.

The Quarterly Report on "Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq:" Fact, Fallacy, and an Overall Grade of "F"(pdf file)
LA TIMES: ... The U.S. Agency for International Development has spent about $100 million on Iraq's education system and cites the rehabilitation of 2,962 school buildings as a signal accomplishment.
But today, across the country, campuses are being shuttered, students and teachers driven from their classrooms and parents left to worry that a generation of traumatized children will go without education.
Teachers tell of students kidnapped on their way to school, mortar rounds landing on or near campuses and educators shot in front of children.
This month insurgents distributed pamphlets at campuses, some sealed inside an envelope with an AK-47 bullet.
"To the Honest People of Baghdad," one pamphlet read, "we want you to leave the schools, hospitals, institutes, colleges and universities until the illegal government of [Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri] Maliki is put down. We want your full cooperation on this." ...

posted by amberglow at 11:18 AM on December 16, 2006

Iraq’s Legal System Staggers Beneath the Weight of War
posted by homunculus at 11:53 AM on December 17, 2006

Tom Clancy put it thusly: An invasion is an armed robbery writ large.
posted by pax digita at 7:36 AM on December 18, 2006

The thirty years' war brewing in the Middle East
posted by homunculus at 11:30 AM on December 18, 2006

LA Times: Does Iraq need more debate?
We've had plenty of shouting matches on the war; what we need are better leaders and more capable media.

posted by amberglow at 8:51 PM on December 19, 2006

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