WASHINGTON - December 8 - Now that the details of the Iraq Study Group report have been published and President Bush has addressed it, it’s clear that the report’s recommendations amount to a completely unrealistic plan which would actually prolong U.S. presence in Iraq - and that President Bush has little more than passing interest in it anyway, said the nation’s largest grassroots peace organization.
“The Iraq Study Group has some positive suggestions regarding negotiations for national reconciliation in Iraq as well as dialogue with neighboring nations such as Iran and Syria, but it calls on these processes to be started and finished in a single year,” noted Kevin Martin, Executive Director of Peace Action. “Given that the current Iraqi government is rife with division and rivalry, to the point that prominent politicians are being kidnapped, and that President Bush has a history of dismissing international negotiations as opposed to conducting them, the recommendation, as it stands, is wildly unrealistic.”
Martin also noted that the report suggests the possibility of removing most U.S. combat troops by 2008 - conditions permitting - without understanding or acknowledging that the presence of U.S. troops is a prime cause of the insurgency and violence. “Combat troops out by 2008 sounds great,” Martin added, “but if they are only to be replaced by large numbers of U.S. special forces, rapid reaction teams, military trainers, advisors and intelligence operatives, as the plan suggests, nothing will have been gained.”
“Even with its few good suggestions regarding international diplomacy and national reconciliation, this is not a plan to end the war, but rather one to turn it into a more manageable long term occupation – occupation lite, if you will.”
Peace Action continues to call on the U.S. government to take the following steps to end the war in Iraq.
- Couple an immediate cease-fire with an announcement that the U.S. will be withdrawing its troops, on a timetable measured in months, not years, and that we have no plans to leave behind military bases or to control Iraqi oil (the latter two points are included in the ISG recommendations)
- Redirect funds being spent on the military occupation toward an orderly withdrawal of troops
- Open negotiations with all factions in Iraq to end the violence.
- Work with relevant international bodies, including the Arab League and United Nations, to begin a regional and international dialogue on all security issues in the region, including the civil war in Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
- Full funding for an Iraqi-led reconstruction of Iraq.
“The Baker-Hamilton group has had its chance, and they have now failed to heed the mandate for peace we witnessed in the last election. If they will not listen and President Bush will not listen, it will be up to the Congress to take action,” concluded Martin. “And the 2008 election is just around the corner.”