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Iraq Study Group report: will Bush act on the group's suggestions?

Reported by Chrish - December 7, 2006 -

The Iraq Study Group's report that was formally released today contains a number of suggestions for strategic changes in that country, but the analysis and response to the study came from only one point of view. Dan Bartlett, White House counsel to Bush, and Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute were on hand to downplay the findings of the group and put a neo-con spin on the story.

Lee Hamilton and James Baker, co-chairs of the group, were shown saying that "stay the course ...is no longer viable" and "Our ship of state...must now chart a new way forward." Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said that the group agrees with the administrations stated goals, "an Iraq that can govern itself, sustain itself, and defend itself." Bush declared it "interesting" and said it showed that bi-partisan consensus on important issues is possible."

Gibson said that Bush will consider the recommendations, BUT he is not obligated to follow them - will he? He went to Bartlett and, reiterating that the ISG agrees with the goals of the White House, asked what the general impressions from the White House were re the recommendations. Bartlett reinforced the notion that a lot of work is being done in the administration to craft a new way in Iraq and lauded "O'Connor's point" of shared goals, "an Iraq that can sustain itself, defend itself, and be an ally in the war on terror." Note the important differences in what she said and how he is re-phrasing it, not caught by Gibson.

Bartlet,t sounding like a PR representative, repeatedly said that Bush will work in a bipartisan way, reach across the aisle, try to find common ground, serious body of work, etc. etc. - not much substance. The segment continued much like a White House briefing with Bartlett promoting the administration point of view.

Next up was Pletka, a foreign and defense policy wonk from AEI. She had nothing positive tyo say about the report, calling it "about as interesting as a small town phone book." She lamented what she sees as a missed opportunity for a serious debate in Washington DC about Iraq, but this report does nothing to add to the debate. She asserts there are very few concrete suggestions or deep ideas, and very very few plans for victory. (Comment: we only need ONE.)

She didn't seem to like the suggestion that we hold regional talks, including Iran and Syria; she didn't seem to like the idea of giving Iraq an deadline for getting their troops ready; she seemed to like the idea of embedding more US troops and stepping up training but was indignant that there was not more details about how to do that or whether we should "surge" with more troops or how long they should stay.

IMO she contradicted herself enormously, first saying this report doesn't add to the debate and then listing topics that need to be debated and settled. It appears an outline has been offered and the discussion and compromising that ensue are what Bartlett claims Bush pledges do.

One item that she thought was "terrific" was Silvestre Reyes (D-TX) suggestion to send in more troops to take care of the "militias" for once and for all. She waxed enthusiastic about his "fresh" idea (umm, I believe ir's been pitched already as "go big") and his willingness to propose this "coming out of the box" with the new Democraticallycontrolledcongress, whose leadership is opposed to the war in Iraq. She lauds this "initiative and leadership", which is what we need.

So in essence the only praise she has is for a Democrat who is going along with the neo-con desire to make one last militaristic effort to quell the violence.

She declares Iraqi PM al-Maliki's goal of taking over security by mid-year 2007 "not realistic," as they have not performed well to date and to expect them to do the job that 130,000 American forces have not been able to do is ridiculous. We cannot "throw this onto the Iraqis and get out, and expect that there will not be very serious consequences for us. He can use all the rhetoric he wants but we'll win this by using American and coalition forces."

So we got the White House offensive and the neo-con rejection. Fair and balnced? We report, you decide.