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Iraq Study Group Report: The Way Forward or A Cover-Up?

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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.

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About munaeem

  • http://www.professays.com professays

    I believe it is high time American and British troops should act more decisively, in an offensive fashion to crack down all the local resistance. Some really offensive strategy should be employed in Iraq.

  • Bliffle

    “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.”

    Except that Bush has rejected it.

  • Munaeem

    Baker was the man who masterminded the manoeuvrings in 2000 over whether Florida should have a full recount…………..

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    The fact that most editorial writers have overpraised the report, and that several right-wing editorials [see yesterday’s Wall St Journal ed pages]have sneeringly rejected it, gives one pause. It’s supposed to be a bipartisan recommendation. But there is still a major fault line dividing two sets of opinions on the subject.

    At least the report provides a rational starting point for discussion. Whether that discussion improves or deteriorates from this point forward will determine whether we can extricate ourselves from this depressing mess in any useful or honorable way.

    The main sticking point may be, as the NY Times points out today, James Baker’s belief in negotiating, even with Iran and Syria, and Rice and other Bush officials preferring to isolate and threaten “rogue states.”

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Munaeem–

    Careful about over-generalizing re James Baker. Bush may feel some loyalty to him over the Florida recount, but Baker’s foreign policy record and views, like those of most of Father Bush’s administration, are anathema to many on the right, both neocons and others.

  • Munaeem

    Instead of inviting Iranians and Syrians. Americans should invite insurgent leaders. Listen to their genuine grievances.

    First of all , Americans will have to stop asserting that Shiite are in majority.

    They should re-instate all low-level Sunni employees, whom they fired on Chilabi’s recommendations.

    Conduct a fresh census.

    Sadam was not a Sunni dictator. He was a secular and an Arab. He also killed his Sunni Kurd brother ruthlessless too.

  • Munaeem

    I don’t want Americans to fail. I respect Americans. I am enjoying little democratic rights in Pakistan because of American influence and pressure.

  • Zedd

    Munaeem:

    You make some good points.

    However I think that you may not apreciate the fact that by engaging the powers in that region, you reduce the military might of the opossition. The insurgents are being armed, some suggest, by Iranians and Syrians.

  • Zedd

    Munaeem

    I would also add that it is this very type of thought that you perpetuate in your commentray ,which causes the endless proliferation of conflict in this region.

    At some point there has to be an END. The report was not an investigation of the Bush administration nor did it have as its goal to find out why the war was started. This is a solution oriented proposal. We are in a mess, how do we resolve it, is the point.

    I am forever amazed when watching the conflicts in this region how there is very little focus of STOPPING! The focus is always on who did what when and who is a liar, a theif, evil or going to hell.

    Perhaps because these cultures do not promote equaty in relationships like marriage, lessons in just giving in for the sake of peace have not been learned. In other words, there is no awareness of the benefit of letting go of anger, frustration and pain, for the sake of the greater good.

    I hear a great deal of declarations, pledges, vows and accusations.

  • Bliffle

    Handy: “The fact that most editorial writers have overpraised the report, and that several right-wing editorials [see yesterday’s Wall St Journal ed pages]have sneeringly rejected it, gives one pause. It’s supposed to be a bipartisan recommendation. But there is still a major fault line dividing two sets of opinions on the subject.”

    I think that many people were hoping that the ISG would come up with a plan that would allow Bush to get Peace With Honor, Bush rejected the plan, and now we have to deal with the aftermath.

    The WSJ response is symptomatic of the low estate to which the WSJ has fallen. I know of NO serious businessman, entrepeneur or capitalist who looks to the WSJ for useful info on affairs of business or finance. It has become simply a partisan rag for those of the moderate-far rightwing. Serious people may read the IBD.

    Baker is an excellent negotiator and manipulator. He is right to advocate always negotiating with anyone. We have plenty of trained people in State, use them.

    As to the credentials of the ISG, much has been made of the fact that 5 are Rs and 5 are Ds in support of their impartiality and catholic views, but how many members of the ISG were avowedly anti-invasion before the invasion? I thought so. So one could maintain that what we have here is a chorus of repentant sinners and failed judgement. But certainly you couldn’t say they’re just anti-Bush or america-haters or peaceniks.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    In the Journal’s defense, its news reporting [often complained about as being liberal by right-wingers who make this charge about everyone who is to their own left] is of very high quality. The editorial page, separately run, is very rightist, but very instructive to read. As long as I remember to take my blood pressure medicine first, it’s a must-read to see how the Dark Side thinks.

  • Mooja

    “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. ”

    If you really feel corruption was involved in selecting Bechtel you should be going after USAID (http://www.usaid.gov/) for selecting them. Bechtel was was selected by USAID though a standard competative process involving multiple bidders because the were the most able and lowest cost provider. Do you get a rise out of inventing and propogating conspiracies?

  • http://www.lp.org/ Psi

    I am afraid that the whole conflict in Iraq may indeed be hopeless, what many people do not realize is that this conflict between the Shiites and Sunnis has been going on for over 100 years and there is a deep hatred between the groups that is facilitated by a religion that preaches violence.

    The reason this has not been going on to near this extent during the reign of Saddam was because he belonged to neither party and was a brutal and oppressive leader that kept everyone under a tight thumb and ruled through terror himself.

    The U.S. could certainly “Win” in Iraq by following that example to an extent by using overwhelming force to accomplish its goals in ways similar to World War II, so that very few would dare to step out of line. This is what we should have done from the beginning as it may have ultimately saved many innocent lives and put the fear of God in the insurgency from the start. But in todays world of political correctness I dont know if such an action would be possible.

    I think it would have also helped matters if control of the governmant had gone to a secular group that was neither Shiite or Sunni but then lets see you try to convince a Shiite not to vote for a Shiite or vice versa with the Sunnis…

  • Munaeem

    Bechtel was was selected by USAID though a standard competative process involving multiple bidders because the were the most able and lowest cost provider. Do you get a rise out of inventing and propogating conspiracies?

    USAID

    I know how they work.

  • Munaeem

    I say safely from the USAID funded project and EU funded projects in Pakistan. All these aids are used to favour the sycophants.

    I recent wrote a EU pointed their attention towards this.

  • Munaeem

    Psi wrote.

    “……. a religion that preaches violence.”

    There is nothing wrong with the religion. It is the people who are corrupt and wrong.

    The Koran invites people saying “It is a guidance for those who can differentiate between right and wrong.”

    Majority of the people who follow Islam are devoid of this trait.

    That’s why they are perpetrating horrible crimes against humanity.

    I am Muslim. But I always pray for the well being of a Jew in British Columbia, Canada. I have personally never met this guy in my life. We developed friendship through internet He is the guy who helped in my crisis.

    I owe my second life to my Bengali maid who saved me, by brother and sister in Bengalades, when Bengalis Muslims were butchering Bihari Muslims.

    In 50s, my grand father’s family was saved by their hindu servant. He not only saved their lives. But looked after their lands and animals for 3 years. And handed them bank all the income and land. When they returned.

    THESE ARE THE REAL HEROES.

  • Munaeem

    I have experienced horrors of communal violence, horrors of sectarian violence, horrors of war. I have experience the life a refugee.

    I know what is a massacre. My father was the lone survivor. He was pushed into a squash court and sprayed with machine gun bullets, by his fellow Muslim Pakistan Army Soldiers in Bangladesh.

    These fanatics have no religion.

  • Bliffle

    Munaeem, your faithfulness to your religion is touching, but futile if the religion cannot be reformed and purged of the killer element. And most of us see no move toward reformation in islam.

    Whatever the noble pronouncements of many islamic adherents, the intellectual base and the organizational structure of islam have been seized by killer madmen, and the pathetic protests of the Pure Of Heart are worse than ineffective, they provide cover for the assassins.

    We cannot identify a reform movement within islam. Too bad that in the struggle between sunni and shiia we cannot identify which represents the terrorist and which represents the reform movement. They both seem equally vile.

    Perhaps islam cannot admit that it needs reform. Perhaps the very foundations of islam in the quran prohibit reform. We shall see. But in the meantime it does no good to insist that it does not need reform and to repeatedly cite islams good points: nobody outside the religion is convinced by that.

  • Munaeem

    Bliffle

    There are two major groups of Sunnis:

    Hanafi

    This is one of the biggest group. People in Eqypt, Turkey , Pakistan and many arabs are followers of this sect.

    THEY ALLOW LOGICAL DISCUSSIONS ON THE KORAN

    Ah Hadith or Salafi(Wahabisim is a offshoot)
    Religious leaders of this group do not allow discussion.

    Oil wealth gave the Saudis a chance to spread their faith. The fanatics you see belong to this group.

    Please visit wwww.heggy.org Mr. Tarek’s site, who is one the leading intellectual of the middle east. There you will find articles, which will you what has happened to Islam. This site will tell you in detail about the Arab mindset

  • Bliffle

    The time is long past when I’d use an opportunity to read up on such things. I see no reform movement coming forward in islam. At some point one must render a judgement and move on. One could do the same with GWB, after years of reading the rationalizations for poor performance and bad decisions, one may render a decision and just give up on the guy.