A couple interesting articles from the New York Times and a couple from The Washington Post.
Wapo's headline is far more impressive than the actual story itself. "Iraq Panel to Urge Pullout of Combat Troops by `08". Nice headline but let us get to the meat of the story.
The bipartisan Iraq Study Group plans to recommend withdrawing nearly all U.S. combat units from Iraq by early 2008 while leaving behind troops to train, advise and support the Iraqis, setting the first goal for a major drawdown of U.S. forces, sources familiar with the proposal said yesterday.
The commission plan would shift the U.S. mission in Iraq to a secondary role as the fragile Baghdad government and its security forces take the lead in fighting a Sunni insurgency and trying to halt sectarian violence. As part of major changes in the U.S. presence, sources said, the plan recommends embedding U.S. soldiers directly in Iraqi security units starting as early as next month to improve leadership and effectiveness.
I was under the impression that our goal this whole time was to get the Iraqi army trained to take over their own security. Correct me if I am wrong there. So, nothing new there actually.
Here is the kicker:
The call to pull out combat brigades by early 2008 would be more a conditional goal than a firm timetable, predicated on the assumption that circumstances on the ground would permit it, according to the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the commission's report will not be released until next week. But panel members concluded that it is vital to set a target to put pressure on Iraqi leaders to do more to assume responsibility for the security of their country.Assumption that the circumstances on the ground would permit it... one hell of an assumption there, although our soldiers are working hard and have been working hard to create the conditions on the ground that would allow that type of measure to be taken.
As Condi so elequently put it:
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in an interview with CBS News, sounded more open to the concept of drawing down forces. "The whole goal here is to transfer responsibility to the Iraqis and to give them enough capability to take those responsibilities," she said. "Obviously, as those responsibilities are transferred, as the capability improves, then American forces will be less in evidence and less needed. That's a natural outcome."
Exactly. Common Sense.
Now here is the part that actual made me laugh out loud when I read it, at the end of page one of the article.
The panel included a significant caveat for the 2008 goal for troop withdrawals by recommending that commanders should plan to pull out combat units by then unless "unexpected developments" make them decide that such a move would be unwise, the sources said. Still, they said, the plan would put the onus on U.S. commanders to try to meet the goal or explain why they failed to.
Basically, what we have here is the Baker group covering their asses well. Unless unexpected developments arise....
So, we should try to make sure their army is trained, we have been. We should try to have half our troops ready to leave by 2008 IF the Iraqi army is capable of handling their own security.... I believe that we have always planned on getting as many soldiers out as we could as soon as the Iraqi army could handle security. Finally, all of this is based on conditions on the ground. Once again, sounds like exactly what we HAVE been doing.
Lets see, Back in June of 2006:
President Bush on Monday brushed aside reports that the United States is planning sharp troop withdrawals from Iraq, beginning in September. Such a decision will be made by the new Iraqi government and based upon recommendations from the top U.S. general there, Bush said.
Conditions on the ground will help shape the recommendation from Gen. George W. Casey, Bush told reporters.
"And one of the things General Casey assured me of was that whatever recommendation he makes, it'll be aimed toward achieving victory," Bush said. "And victory means a free government that is able to sustain itself, defend itself."
Our strategy has always been established by conditions on the ground.
Seems the study group is simply stating this once again.
Which brings me to a line of the New York Times article.
The question now is whether Mr. Bush can be persuaded to shift course — and whether he might now be willing to define victory less expansively.
Back to that 2006 statement by Bush:
Bush said. "And victory means a free government that is able to sustain itself, defend itself."How is that idea of victory being less defined? Nothing that has been leaked from the Baker report leads us to the conclusion that their idea of victory is any less "expansive".
Hat Tip to QandO here for noticing another little nugget Wapo seemed to bury on page A23 on November 29th.
Just a few months ago it was unthinkable that President Bush would prematurely withdraw a significant number of American troops from Iraq. But it seems possible today, and therefore the Saudi leadership is preparing to substantially revise its Iraq policy. Options now include providing Sunni military leaders (primarily ex-Baathist members of the former Iraqi officer corps, who make up the backbone of the insurgency) with the same types of assistance -- funding, arms and logistical support -- that Iran has been giving to Shiite armed groups for years.
For those that understand what actual Civil War is, the preconditions that have to be met as criteria to "officially" call a conflict, civil war, SA's option above would definitely bring Iraq to all of those criteria, which despite those that seem to be under the impression that a certain amount of violence IS the criteria, Iraq has not met the full spectrum yet.
Then another possibility for the Saudi's:
Finally, Abdullah may decide to strangle Iranian funding of the militias through oil policy. If Saudi Arabia boosted production and cut the price of oil in half, the kingdom could still finance its current spending. But it would be devastating to Iran, which is facing economic difficulties even with today's high prices. The result would be to limit Tehran's ability to continue funneling hundreds of millions each year to Shiite militias in Iraq and elsewhere.
Thats right folks, if the US pulls out before Iraq can handle their own security and the Saudi's have to step in, there is a good possibility that a gas war would follow. Did you think the gas prices of the last year were high? You ain't seen nothing yet!!!
For the Middle East, the gas prices we will feel will be nothing compared to the chaos that any of the Saudi's options, if implemented, would cause the Middle East. We will be talking a fullout regional war that will once again bring the US and our military back there, smack dab in the middle of a World War, instead of trying to stave off a civil war.
Whether we agree or disagree with the original plan of toppling Saddam and going into Iraq, we are there, it is done. Not all on the right side of the aisle agree on the timing, although we do know Saddam had to go eventually.
What people call Bush's stubborness, might just be that nasty thing called realism, the reality that we are there, and to leave now, without stabilizing Iraq, would cause the Saudi's to step in, we also know Iran is there, indisputable proof is in the weapons marked with a manufaturing date of 2006, in Iraq made in Iran, the whole area would explode into a regional war.
A world war.
Stay the Course seems to the be theme of the day, once again. Big change huh?
Macsmind and Iowa Voice are also discussing this.
A must read Wapo article from Charles Krauthammer called "This is Realism?"
Now that the "realists" have ridden into town gleefully consigning the Bush doctrine to the ash heap of history, everyone has discovered the notion of interests, as if it were some new idea thought up by James Baker and the Iraq Study Group.
What do people think we've been doing for the past five years? True, the president's rhetoric has a tendency to go soaringly Wilsonian, e.g. the banishing-tyranny stuff in his second inaugural address. But our policies of democratization in Iraq and Afghanistan and Lebanon have been deeply rooted in the most concrete of American interests.
Continue reading. Others discussing the Krauthammer piece are Hyscience and Blue Crab Boulevard.
Captain's Quarters, PoliBlog, The American Israeli Patriot and Prairie Pundit discuss the NYT article.
Open Trackback at Woman Honor Thyself. Right Wing Guy has an interesting piece on the New Iraqi Army.