Today, the congressionally-mandated Iraq Study Group unveiled a set of recommendations. The report intensifies pressure on President Bush to change direction, but he is under no obligation to follow its recommendations. The 142-page report includes 79 recommendations, of which three are key:
- A change in the primary mission of US forces in Iraq to enable it to begin to move combat forces out responsibly
- Prompt action by the Iraqi government to achieve reconciliation
- New and enhanced diplomatic efforts in the region
The report said the situation in Iraq was "deteriorating" and warned that "time was running out". The Group urged talks with Iran and Syria on tackling Iraq's unrest.
The real questions are: What is America’s national interest in the Middle East and why are they expending thousands of precious lives and hundreds of billions of dollars to pursue obviously failed strategies?
In case you've forgotten what their real mission was, let me remind you of White House spokesman Ari Fleisher's original announcement, three years ago, launching of what he called,"Operation Iraqi Liberation."
The truth is that war-bent hawks Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz entered this war with many interests. Among them, the control of a major supply of Mideast oil, military bases, reconstruction contracts for cronies (i.e. Halliburton and Bechtel), and a new ally/puppet in the region.
After the fall of Saddam Hussein, Bechtel got contracts of reconstruction of water treatment systems, electricity plants, sewage systems, airports, and roads. Bechtel’s board members have close ties to the Bush administration.
Bechtel was among the first companies, along with Halliburton, where U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney once worked, to have received fixed-fee contracts drawn to guarantee profit.
The panel seems to assume that nation building is still possible in Iraq, and this underlies its recommendations. There are fundamental realities that we all have to acknowledge about this administration's conduct of the war in Iraq. The future of Iraq and the United States' mission there is as murky as Baghdad in a sandstorm.
After three and a half years, some $380 billion and more than 2,900 American military casualties, the U.S. is still in the "options-building" phase. Everyone, it seems, is looking for a new plan.
When the war started, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, claimed that Iraq's oil revenue would cover the costs. He said: "There's a lot of money to pay for this that doesn't have to be U.S. taxpayer money, and it starts with the assets of the Iraqi people.”
I believe that this report is a "clever" move by Bush and Baker to provide cover for the the U.S. administration’s war in Iraq.