ISG Report’s Recommendations Outdated, Warn Critics

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Growing numbers of Congressional Republicans are (at long last) warming up to the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group report. In fact, a bipartisan amendment to an upcoming defense authorization bill is being bandied about that would re-emphasize a diplomatic solution to the Iraq conflict, advocate an oil revenue bill acceptable to all three of the country’s sectarian groups, and maybe (just maybe) withdraw most U.S. troops by 2008. The amendment puts Harry Reid and the Democrats in a tough position; they obviously prefer the ISG’s recommendations to Bush’s current game of wait-and-see, but it will take much more than that to appease their base.

For example, the Center for American Progress, a Washington-based progressive policy organization, today released a report warning that much of the ISG report has now been overtaken by events and urging lawmakers to reconsider its recommendations before blindly passing them into law.

A summary of the group’s concerns:

  1. Conditioning U.S. withdrawal on the “We’ll stand down when they stand up” formula: They’ll more likely stand up when we stand down. The continued presence of U.S. troops provides little motivation for Iraq’s security forces to assert themselves.
  2. Placing too much focus on Iraq’s central government: The central government of Iraq is a fiction. Iraq’s leaders disagree on the country’s future direction and the country’s political parties are bitterly divided along religious and sectarian lines. These divides may ultimately prove unbridgeable.
  3. Paying insufficient attention to the Iraqi Constitution and the will of the Iraqi people: The ISG report calls for the central government to control Iraq’s oil revenues, contrary to the wishes of the Iraqis themselves, who voted for decentralization. In addition, most Iraqis want U.S. forces to leave within a year and a sizeable majority (61%, according to one poll) support attacks against Americans.
  4. Supporting the unconditional training of Iraq’s security forces: The ISG report recommends a force of between 10,000 and 20,000 U.S. military advisors to train Iraqi troops, but advisors would require large numbers of additional U.S. troops for force protection, removing them from other key positions around the world. In addition, the Iraqi army continues to be unreliable and overridden by sectarian divisions. Loyalties to tribe and religious sect override loyalty to the state.
  5. Offering undeveloped ideas on a regional diplomatic offensive: The ISG recommends the creation of a regional contact group to solve Iraq’s internal and external problems diplomatically. Such a “one-size-fits-all” approach fails to recognize the individual concerns and differing interests of each of Iraq’s neighbors.

Whether the Democrats will listen to these concerns remains an open question. If the amendment were to pass, it would (despite its flaws) be the toughest challenge yet to the Bush administration’s approach to Iraq. But it might be too little of a good thing, especially for angry Democratic voters.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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