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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Why You Should Read The Iraq Study Group Report

Having just finished reading the Report of the Iraq Study Group, I must applaud their efforts to uncover the truth about the overall situation in the Middle East. The members of the ISG looked at the entire puzzle of Middle East politics and assembled many concrete recommendations. Surprisingly, the report also discusses U.S. taxpayer costs, Palestine, Israel, oil, failings in the U.S. Department of Defense, and the gross underreporting of violence in Iraq.

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My biggest concern is that the Bush Administration and the U.S. Congress will totally ignore the report and go on spending money on pork projects while so many lives are being lost every day. If you care about the lives of fellow human beings, if you care about how your tax money is being spent, if you have a son or daughter serving in the military, or if you do not want to see the world embroiled in World War Three, READ THIS REPORT!

It is not like any legislative document or political speech I have ever studied. It is written in plain English and offers solid recommendations that can be implemented, if people care enough to try. Read it, ask others to read it, demand that your Senators and Representatives follow the recommendations. It is your responsibility to see that peace comes to the world as much as it is the responsibility of the leaders of all nations.

Here are a few excerpts that provide real reasons why you should read the entire report:

To date, the United States has spent roughly $400 billion on the Iraq War, and costs are running about $8 billion per month. In addition, the United States must expect significant “tail costs” to come. Caring for veterans and replacing lost equipment will run into the hundreds of billions of dollars. Estimates run as high as $2 trillion for the final cost of the U.S. involvement in Iraq.

RECOMMENDATION 23: The President should restate that the United States does not seek to control Iraq’s oil.

... there is significant underreporting of the violence in Iraq. The standard for recording attacks acts as a filter to keep events out of reports and databases. A murder of an Iraqi is not necessarily counted as an attack. If we cannot determine the source of a sectarian attack, that assault does not make it into the database. A roadside bomb or a rocket or mortar attack that doesn’t hurt U.S. personnel doesn’t count. For example, on one day in July 2006 there were 93 attacks or significant acts of violence reported. Yet a careful review of the reports for that single day brought to light 1,100 acts of violence.Good policy is difficult to make when information is systematically collected in a way that minimizes its discrepancy with policy goals. page 94

RECOMMENDATION 1: The United States, working with the Iraqi government, should launch the comprehensive New Diplomatic Offensive to deal with the problems of Iraq and of the region. This new diplomatic offensive should be launched before December 31, 2006. page 45

RECOMMENDATION 3: As a complement to the diplomatic offensive, and in addition to the Support Group discussed below, the United States and the Iraqi government should support the holding of a conference or meeting in Baghdad of the Organization of the Islamic Conference or the Arab League both to assist the Iraqi government in promoting national reconciliation in Iraq and to reestablish their diplomatic presence in Iraq. page 46

RECOMMENDATION 16: In exchange for these actions and in the context of a full and secure peace agreement, the Israelis should return the Golan Heights, with a U.S. security guarantee for Israel that could include an international force on the border, including U.S. troops if requested by both parties.

As worries about Iraq increase, the Gulf States are becoming more active. The United Arab Emirates and Kuwait have hosted meetings in support of the International Compact. Saudi Arabia recently took the positive step of hosting a conference of Iraqi religious leaders in Mecca. Several Gulf States have helped foster dialogue with Iraq’s Sunni Arab population. While the Gulf States are not proponents of democracy in Iraq, they worry about the direction of events: battle-hardened insurgents from Iraq could pose a threat to their own internal stability, and the growth of Iranian influence in the region is deeply troubling to them. page 30

RECOMMENDATION 17: Concerning the Palestinian issue, elements of that negotiated peace should include:
• Adherence to UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 and to the principle of land for peace, which are the only bases for achieving peace.
• Strong support for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority to take the lead in preparing the way for negotiations with Israel.
• A major effort to move from the current hostilities by consolidating the cease-fire reached between the Palestinians and the Israelis in November 2006.
• Support for a Palestinian national unity government.


The Defense Department and the intelligence community have not invested sufficient people and resources to understand the political and military threat to American men and women in the armed forces...there are fewer than 10 analysts on the job at the Defense Intelligence Agency who have more than two years’ experience in analyzing the insurgency. page 94

RECOMMENDATION 40: The United States should not make an open-ended commitment to keep large numbers of American troops deployed in Iraq. page 75

RECOMMENDATION 41: The United States must make it clear to the Iraqi government that the United States could carry out its plans, including planned redeployments, even if
Iraq does not implement its planned changes. America’s other security needs and the future of our military cannot be made hostage to the actions or inactions of the Iraqi government. page 75

RECOMMENDATION 43: Military priorities in Iraq must change, with the highest priority given to the training, equipping, advising, and support mission and to counterterrorism operations. page 75

RECOMMENDATION 21: If the Iraqi government does not make substantial progress toward the achievement of milestones on national reconciliation, security, and governance, the United States should reduce its political, military, or economic support for the Iraqi government. page 61

The Syrian role is not so much to take active measures as to countenance malign neglect:

the Syrians look the other way as arms and foreign fighters flow across their border into Iraq, and former Baathist leaders find a safe haven within Syria.

... the Syrians have indicated that they want a dialogue with the United States, and in November 2006 agreed to restore diplomatic relations with Iraq after a 24-year break.

Funding for the Sunni insurgency comes from private individuals within Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, even as those governments help facilitate U.S. military operations in Iraq by providing basing and overflight rights and by cooperating on intelligence issues. page 29

RECOMMENDATION 12: The United States and the Support Group should encourage and persuade Syria of the merit of such contributions as the following:

• Syria can control its border with Iraq to the maximum extent possible and work together with Iraqis on joint patrols on the border. Doing so will help stem the flow of funding, insurgents, and terrorists in and out of Iraq.

• Syria can establish hotlines to exchange information with the Iraqis.

• Syria can increase its political and economic cooperation with Iraq. page 54

One Iraqi official told us: “Iran is negotiating with the United States in the streets of Baghdad.” page 29

RECOMMENDATION 11: Diplomatic efforts within the Support Group should seek to persuade Iran that it should take specific steps to improve the situation in Iraq.


Among steps Iran could usefully take are the following:

• Iran should stem the flow of equipment, technology, and training to any group resorting to violence in Iraq.

• Iran should make clear its support for the territorial integrity of Iraq as a unified state, as well as its respect for the sovereignty of Iraq and its government.

• Iran can use its influence, especially over Shia groups in Iraq, to encourage national reconciliation.

• Iran can also, in the right circumstances, help in the economic reconstruction of Iraq. page 53


RECOMMENDATION 15: Concerning Syria, some elements of that negotiated peace should be:

• Syria’s full adherence to UN Security Council Resolution 1701 of August 2006, which provides the framework for Lebanon to regain sovereign control over its territory.

• Syria’s full cooperation with all investigations into political assassinations in Lebanon, especially those of Rafik Hariri and Pierre Gemayel.

• A verifiable cessation of Syrian aid to Hezbollah and the use of Syrian territory for transshipment of Iranian weapons and aid to Hezbollah. (This step would do much to solve Israel’s problem with Hezbollah.)

• Syria’s use of its influence with Hamas and Hezbollah for the release of the captured Israeli Defense Force soldiers.

• A verifiable cessation of Syrian efforts to undermine the democratically elected government of Lebanon. page 56

RECOMMENDATION 38: The United States should support the presence of neutral international experts as advisors to the Iraqi government on the processes of disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration. page 69


RECOMMENDATION 78: The Director of National Intelligence and the Secretary of Defense should also institute immediate changes in the collection of data about violence and the sources of violence in Iraq to provide a more accurate picture of events on the ground. page 96

RECOMMENDATION 79: The CIA should provide additional personnel in Iraq to develop and train an effective intelligence service and to build a counterterrorism intelligence
center that will facilitate intelligence-led counterterrorism efforts. page 96

RECOMMENDATION 18: It is critical for the United States to provide additional political, economic, and military support for Afghanistan, including resources that might become available as combat forces are moved from Iraq. page 58


The entire report can be downloaded here.

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