The Commonwealth Comment

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Report Released on Iraq

The Iraq Study Group released their highly anticipated report today. They presented the report to President Bush this morning. The Iraq Study Group is an independent bipartisan committee made up of 5 Democrats and 5 Republicans. The chairs of the group are former Secretary of State James Baker and former Representative Lee Hamilton.

The group had a total of 79 recommendations for the Bush administration and congress. They have labeled the situation in Iraq as "grave and deteriorating". The report calls for a "diplomatic offensive", which includes direct talks with Syria and Iran. "If we don't talk to them, we don't see much progress being made. You can't look at this part of the world and pick and choose which countries you're going to deal with," said Hamilton. President Bush has refused talks with the two nations in the past, he has also called Iran a member of the "Axis of Evil".

Another controversial and debated recommendation is the withdrawal of U.S. troops by early 2008. The report did not lay out a specific timetable for a withdrawal from Iraq. However, it did say that the United States cannot "make an open-ended commitment to keep large numbers of American troops deployed in Iraq." The group also suggests that the military be used for training the Iraqi police and military, rather than combat in the country.

"We no longer can afford to stay the course," Baker said. "If we do what we recommend in this report, it will certainly improve our chances for success."

President Bush said, "We will take every proposal seriously, and we will act in a timely fashion."

Full Text: Iraq Study Group Report

On a side note...President Bush's nominee for Secretary of Defense, Bob Gates was approved by the Senate today as well. He is replacing Donald Rumsfeld, who resigned on November 8th.

My opinion: I like what I've heard about the report thus far. I hope that the newly elected Democratic congress will pressure Bush to act on the group's recommendations. I'm interested to hear Mr. Gates' take on the report and the course of action he will be taking based on it.


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