Iraq Study Group Report Delivered—Course, So Far, Stayed

In a dramatic pre-dawn raid, James Baker and Lee Hamilton's Iraqi Study Group delivered the goods on their long-awaited report on the "situation" in Iraq. There will be millions of words spilled on this--my favorite op-ed so far is boldly headlined "Iraqi Study Blah Blah Blah"--but here's the key, from the New York Times' account:

The White House spokesman, Tony Snow, speaking to reporters after the president’s briefing, emphasized that the report’s 79 recommendations do not include either a firm timetable or a call for an immediate withdrawal.

“There is nothing in here about pulling back militarily,” he said.

So, there we are. The report itself will supposedly be available today in paperback book form from Vintage--and can be found in full as a .pdf here.

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  • ||

    Stay the course!!!
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  • ||

    The "blood for oil" people really annoy me. If we wanted cheap Iraqi oil, we would have lifted the sanctions or turned a blind eye to oil-for-food abuse, not caused three years of anarchy and violence in the place where the oil is.

  • ||

    Juanita!
    Good to see you back. Hey, there's someone I want you to meet. I think you'll really hit it off.

    "Juanita, meet Dan T. Dan T., Jaunita.

  • Dan T.||

    Leave Juanita alone. She's just expressing her opinions.

  • ||

    If I'm not mistaken, we once got Juanita to admit she was a parody. Sorry, Dan.

  • Ryo||

    While there might not be a firm timetable, Mike Allen claims it says most troops out by 2008. With troops providing force protection for the Iraqis remaining until who knows.

  • ||

    "The "blood for oil" people really annoy me. If we wanted cheap Iraqi oil, we would have lifted the sanctions or turned a blind eye to oil-for-food abuse, not caused three years of anarchy and violence in the place where the oil is."

    "Cheap oil" is not what they're after. They're looking for sweetheart deals based on their political connections. Getting oil cheaply isn't the same as getting it through crooked backroom deals done under the fog of "war". But, to be fair, it's the Halliburtons and KBRs that have been the benefactors here, not the oil barons...so in that respect, you're kind of correct, JB. Oh, and not to mention all the "well-connected" Raytheons and McDonnel-Douglases and Boeings of the military industrial welfare complex.

    So, let's have a compromise: instead of "blood for oil", we'll call it "blood for a healthy military-industrial production sector". K?

  • ||

    Cheap oil isn't the blood for oil argument -- at least not on the sane level.

    The "trading blood for oil" thing has to do with trading blood to get that oil under more friendly control. More expensive oil we control is far more preferrable to cheap oil that's in the hands of people who don't always do as they're told.

    Reasons from this range from the obvious -- it's best not to be dependent on foreign powers for critical supplies -- to the cynical -- why should dirty foreigners be making all that money off that oil, when US companies could?

    Iraq wasn't about freedom and democracy and stuff. It was partly about kicking ass because we could, but it was mostly about getting a big chunk of oil into the hands of a state more willing to toe the US line than the rest of the Middle East. As such, it's been a spectacular failure.

  • Brian||

    Invading Iraq to get our hands on the oil would be rational in a 19th century great powers sort of scenario. These guys aren't up to that kind of thinking.

    I think we did it so they could film the Mission Accomplished thing and use that in campaign commercials in 2004. Bush should have taken a que from his dad and invaded Panama again if that's what they were after.

  • ||

    Morat got it half right. Not for oil, but the kicking ass cause we could. Hussein kicked sand in Bush Sr's groups face and ever since then they've been waiting for the opportunity to dump the whole sandbox on Saddam. They got their opportunity and took it before anyone did too much thinking. Too bad we destablized an entire region on a revenge thing.

  • Warren||

    No, it's "blood for no oil". By taking Iraqi oil off the market the price went to over $75/bbl, thus allowing the president's bible study group to all buy bigger yachts.

  • ||

    Lost in Translation

    In what sense did Saddam "kick sand in Bush Sr's groups face"?

    It seems to me like the 1st gulf war went alot better for Bush senior than for Saddam.

    And if you're right, it seems like it would be alot better to just legalize assasinating foreign heads of state just for a few weeks so they could kill Saddam and then ban it again after they killed him.

  • ||

    I can believe that Saddam kicked sand in GB 41's face. Who held office longer?

    If GB 41 had overthrown Saddam, he could have said "stay the course" in 1992 and possibly beaten Clinton.

    OK, so "no blood for oil" isn't quite as silly as I thought. I still think the Iraq War was vengeance/a PR ploy rather than a get-richer-quick scheme.

  • ||

    W certainly referenced Hussein's attempt to assasinate Bush Sr as one of the reason's to consider Iraq dangerous...

    "He tried to kill my dad..." 9/27/02

    http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2002/09/27/1032734315453.html


    Sounds personal to me. All the other factors (e.g., oil, democracy, Iran) become incremental opportunities enabled by the vendetta.

  • ||

    Just as long as GWB isn't compelled to make a graceful exit.

  • ||

    When I heard about the report's "recommendations" on the radio earlier, I couldn't help but laugh. I disagreed with the war in the first place, and agree that the Republicans probably deserved to get smacked because of it.

    But I got sick over the course of the campaign season of all the people arguing for a new plan to get the war over. Of course there is no easy new plan/answer. But the campaign rhetoric was "we need to assign someone to study ways to get out" as if they could come up with a magic answer. Was anyone surprised when this commission couldn't come up with any answers either? There are no easy answers, which is why it was so stupid to go in in the first place.

    Oooh, wait: I know! I have the magic plan:
    1) Get all of the factions to agree to live peacably under a stable democracy that is friendly to the West.
    2) Withdraw forces.
    3) Sing kum-ba-ya.

    So simple, why haven't those crazy politicians come up with it yet?

  • Warren||

    Todd,
    Forget about step one. Implement step two immediately. Make step three optional and I'm with you.

  • ||

    Does anyone have an idea of how the Iraq situation can be resolved diplomatically(sp?) so that US and coalition forces can witdraw without Iraq collapsing even futher into sectarian violence and terrorism?

    The sentiment on this thread seems to be that the situation is hopeless and we might as well witdraw now since we're just delaying the inevitable anyway. That might be correct, and that sucks if it is, but I'd like to see if anyone has a strong opposing view.

  • ||

    I think ideology/philosophy was the main impetus behind the war. Ideas kill far more people than greed ever will.

  • ||

    I like how the report cautions against too swift a withdrawl which may cause a "humanitarian catastrophe" as if a half a million violent deaths in three years isn't already a humanitarian crisis.

    I don't know how talking to Iran solves anything, they have limited influence and I've read a couple articles saying big chunks of the shite militias/deathsquads are not under the influence of anyone but themselves, not al Sadr, SCIRI, etc. let alone Tehran. Perhaps Syria could do something to stop fighters crossing the border/stop weapons supply but why should they?

    Basically what the report is saying to me is that every American/coalition soldier over there is fighting and dying for a stalemate as the best possible option and more likely an out and out loss.

  • ||

    I think the potential influence of Iran and Syria on day-to-day events in Iraq is probably overestimated by many, though it couldn't hurt (could it?) to have their help. But then, I dont know how the rulers in those countries would weigh their hatred of US against their desire for a stable(r) Iraq.

  • ||

    That might be correct, and that sucks if it is, but I'd like to see if anyone has a strong opposing view.

    STAY THE COURSE!!!

    Whatever the president says is what we should do, he is our leader and we must obey him.

  • ||

    spur said exactly what I was thinking.

  • ||

    ""(No) trading blood for oil"

    And no trading the coast of California for oil...

    And no trading the coast of Florida for oil...

    And no trading the outer-continental shelf for oil...

    And no trading ANWAR in Alaska for oil...

    And no trading oil shale in Colorado for oil...

    And no trading tar sands in Canada for oil...

    And no trading the shores of Massachusetts for wind produced energy...

    Anybody see a pattern here?

  • Garth||

    Don't take the "Blood for Oil" thing too literally. There is a connection and it has nothing to do with simply grabbing Iraq's reserves. It goes more like this:

    The USGovt has been concerned over the general sustainability of the Saudi regime for some time. If it collapsed and produced a hostile bunch then the risk of another embargo would be too much to consider: especially when so many other producers are hostile regimes (Iraq, Iran, and increasingly Venezuela). Also, the neocon crowd never did cotton to Putin's Russia (they never looked into his soul).

    That's backdrop #1. Backdrop #2 is the threat that lots of the world's petroleum might be taken out of the open market via exclusive, long term contracts. This is something China is actively pursuing as an energy strategy and something Russia has advocated as a producer. If China locked in enough oil (and increasingly LNG) then global oil markets could become destabilized (as liquidity goes down, volatility goes up)

    So the Iraq gambit was a way to produce:

    1) a regime that would not take it's oil off the market
    2) a base from which to assist the Saudi Regime in the event of trouble (possibly spirit them out and seize the fields before calamity)
    3) position force for the possible destabilization of Iran (for all the oily reasons above)
    4) reduce another possible source of regional instability by putting a friendly regime right in the middle of the ME

  • ||

    Step One: Invade Iraq.

    Step Two: ?

    Step Three: A Stable Middle East Free Of Dictators.

  • fyodor||

    Good one, Zeno.

  • ||

    Oh, and not to mention all the "well-connected" Raytheons and McDonnel-Douglases and Boeings of the military industrial welfare complex.

    Boeing bought McDonnel-Douglas a few years ago...if not a decade ago.

    Sure it is possible to draw small parallels between Vietnam and the Iraq war, but this is ridicules.

  • ||

    1) Get all of the factions to agree to live peacably under a stable democracy that is friendly to the West.
    2) Withdraw forces.
    3) Sing kum-ba-ya.


    I still like this one...and it is used by both the hawks and the doves to justify their positions...although i think they may disagree with its simplification:

    1. Invade iraq
    2. ?????
    3. profit!

  • ||

    I believe Warren may basically have it right. US policy since 1979 has kept oil markets in turmoil (encouraging Saddam to attack Iran, and prolonging that war by playing both sides). Since '91 we have kept Iraqi oil OFF world markets.

    In 2003 it became apparent that sanctions were eroding, and PRESTO you get the war. Who knows how long it may be before Iraqi oil can reach world markets in significant amounts?

    I don't think oil corporations are calling the shots here. More like the Saudis...the principal beneficiaries.

  • Warren||

    Andrew,
    The Saudis? Nah, too 'Elders of Mecca' international star-chamber conspiracy for me. I'm going with Occam's razor here. I never believe the pretext when a politician enacts a policy that "just happens" to net him a buttload of cash. Taking out Saddam was a sure way of igniting the civil war that would guarantee Iraq's oil wouldn't reach the market for as far as anyone can see. As far as beneficiaries go, the house of Saud may have done a little better, but I'm thinking the Texas oil boys that play poker with the commander-in-chief had more influence.

  • ||

    As near as I can tell, the plan is to keep fighting in Iraq until we're bankrupt. This is essentially the same plan that the Soviets had in Afghanistan and that worked out for the best in the long run, so...let's try to be upbeat, 'kay?

  • ||

    I wonder if anyone has considered the democratic solution. That is, having the Iraqis vote on the following question: Do you want the American troops to withdraw from Iraq?

    If "Yes" wins, then it gives us more legitimacy for being there (and would probably boost the troops' moral and the U.S. population's support). If "No" wins then it takes the "The U.S. has no guts." argument out of the picture. Leaving would simply be doing what the majority wanted.

    Now I'm really curious if "Yes" or "No" would win.

  • ||

    Sorry, the logic is backwards in the above post It should read:

    If "No" wins, then it gives us more legitimacy for being there (and would probably boost the troops' moral and the U.S. population's support). If "Yes" wins then it takes the "The U.S. has no guts." argument out of the picture. Leaving would simply be doing what the majority wanted.

  • ||

    As far as I can tell the ISG report has managed to disgust both the left and the right. Everyone on both sides seems to agree that the findings are wishy-washy and basically nothing more than a CYA exercise to preserve the magical beast known as "political consensus." It is painfully clear that the report is far more concerned with finding a way to minimize damage to the political establishment rather than actually finding a solution to America's deteriorating position in Iraq.

  • ||

    Any attempt to solve the problem should begin with the desire to view the honest reality.

    After a few years of being neglected, reality is not going to be pretty.

  • ||

    BG,

    I wouldn't say I have a "strong opposing view," but I believe it is worthwhile to try to achieve a political solution among the indigeneous Iraqi parties to end the civil war - or at least, among enough factions of those parties to create a "center" that has a chance of winning against the holdouts. Our withdrawal - its announcement, its beginning, and its continuation - should be used as a tool to further this outcome, by creating a process that splits the Sunnis by allowing the Iraqi nationalists fighting against the occupation to come in out of the cold. It could also shift the center of power among the Shiites from the al-Sadrs to the Sistanis. The head of the British military mission there, every single one of our intelligence agencies, and the Iraqi people themselves, have all made it quite clear that our continued occupation is driving the insurgency and making such a political solution impossible. The other parties the report recommends we involve in this discussion, such as Iraq's neighbors, Russia, and the EU countries, need to be involved for the purpose of making this solution more likely.

    This, and not "standing up" Iraqi military forces that have proven to be participants in the civil war, is our way out. A stronger military force nominally in control of the central government is only going to make the confligration worse.

    There's certainly no guarantee that this proposal - which I call the "Northern Ireland Solution" - is going to work. But if it fails, the outcome is a bloody civil war that we're out of, and with sufficient troops to protect other interests, such as the preservation of Kurdish autonomy and, oh yeah, the war against Al Qaeda.

  • ||

    Mossad must be furious.

  • Todd Frye||

    There was no ONE reason for the war; several reasons dovetailed in the minds of Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al - getting our hands on the oil, taking out Saddam, getting a big beautiful military base right smack in the middle of Arabtown. The war would have been a way to combine lots of (to them) desirable goals in one complex, evil scheme. Too bad (again, for them) it failed miserably.

    A la the Underwear gnomes, the Bush Family Buddies' basic plan was:

    1) Invade Iraq
    2) ???
    3) Profit.

  • ||

    Two points.

    1. Oil, as the present lifeblood of the modern world, is something well worth fighting over. A rational state deposing Saddam over Iraqi oil would simply have seized the oil assets and let the Iraqis pound sand.

    2. Iraq is not a viable state, regardless of what the U.S. does or doesn't do. The sectarian/tribal forces in Iraq are poised and waiting for our troops to leave so they can get down to the business of fighting for control over various parts of the country. Sadr seems to have said so directly and unapologetically. Something to the effect that Iraq will be "under control" the day after we leave.

  • ||

    1. Oil now and for the foreseeable future is the blood of our economy. There is no viable alternative on the board at this time. It is a very good reason to go to war.

    2. Regarding jb's first post, we tried to get the sanctions lifted immediately after the regime fell.

  • ||

    It's not about oil. Never underestimate the disasters that a combination of wishful thinking and hubris can cause.

  • ||

    I can't believe some of you actually regard oil as a good reason to go to war. That's like Brits saying: Money is the blood of our economy. So let's invade America.

    Seriously. Can you hear yourselves? Basically you're advocating thievery as a good reason for war. Not because they attacked us. Not because they threaten to topple democratic principles all over the world. But so we can get richer!

    And joe, your approach won't work because the Iraqis don't want peace. Or democracy. Or fairness. Namely anything resembling democratic principles. What they want is for their religious sect to dominate and exterminate everyone else that disagrees. You can't force people to live democratically who don't want to. They're willing to kill anyone who disagrees with their religion even in itty bitty sectarian ways. Like baptists wanting to kill evangelicals. Do you get that? What makes you think they'd care about fairness, equality, tolerance, etc.? Regardless of how many US soldiers die and how much "peace" we might manage to achieve, they'll just go back to their religious violence as soon as we leave. This is a lost cause and has been from day one because Bush had no plan for CULTURAL conversion to democracy. Never thought he needed it. If he did, he never would've started this war because no one has a clue how to bring forth a cultural democratic revolution to a bloodthirsty, religiously violent people.

  • ||

    It's not about oil. Never underestimate the disasters that a combination of wishful thinking and hubris can cause.

    BINGO!!!!

  • ||

    I can't believe some of you actually regard oil as a good reason to go to war. That's like Brits saying: Money is the blood of our economy. So let's invade America.

    No, what I'm saying is that if a cutoff of our oil supply occurred, that would be a very good reason to go to war. Do I advocate seizing oil just to make it cheaper? No. Would that be a rational thing for an overwhelmingly powerful state to do? Yes. Rational, but not just.

  • ||

    joe

    I'd say your solution is worth a shot. Do you think its likely that they will end up doing something like that?

  • ||

    The only solution in Iraq is to take our troops out of Iraq and move them to Iran immediatly. Iran is an avowed enemy that we can bomb indiscrimatly. Once we overthrow the mullahs, any dissent can be properly killed as an enemy, instead of people where "trying to help". Iraq may flame up for a while, but once Iran's help stops flowing to the Sadr Shiites hostilities will wane and the new government might have a slight chance of taking.

    Iran will have to be dealt with eventually anyway. Why not let the inevitable help bail us out of the near hopeless situation we're in now?

  • ||

    As bad as things are in Iraq, at least we know it could have been worse:

    They could have let James Ard run the war.

  • ||

    Yong Kim - What do you consider to be a reason worth going to war over if ChrisO's national-security based scenario isn't good enough?

  • ||

    ChrisO and rob,

    "Cut off of our oil supply": If by this you mean that we were getting oil from country A, but country B militarily blocked us from this trade, then I consider this an act of war on the part of country B, and it would be a good reason for going to war. On the other hand, if we were getting oil from A, but A decided to no longer sell oil to us, that would not be a good reason (neither rational nor just) to go to war. No country has any obligation to sell us any oil. To go to war would be tantamount to stealing. This bullying, unjust behavior even if we are the most powerful nation in the world would be irrational because other countries (as well as our own citizens who value fairness and integrity and of course justice) would turn against us. If we steal from others just because we can, others would have the right to unite in declaring war on us and WE would be the bad guy.

  • CSR||

    The book is also available in paperback form from Vivisphere Publishing, and it is cheaper.

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