Havnt finished reading the Iraq Study Group Report as Im at work but I thought Id comment on the "Executive Summary" at the beginning.
It says one of the consequences for failure is "Al Qaeda could win a propaganda victory and expand its base of operations." I dispute that. In fact, I believe the opposite is true.
Whether you like Al Qaeda or not, they already HAVE acheived a propaganda victory. The invasion of Iraq was the greatest thing that has happened to Al Qaeda. According to Michael Scheuer, (CIA's foremost expert on Osama bin Laden) "The war in Iraq - if Osama was a Christian - it's the Christmas present he never would have expected"
Since the early 1990's, bin Laden and Al Qaeda propaganda has stated that the United States wants to control the Middle East; and the US secretly wants to invade Iraq to set up a puppet government and permanent military presence. Bin Laden and Al Qaeda have been loudly, and constantly stating this all over the Middle East since around 1994.
So a lot of Muslims heard this but said "eh, I dont know. bin Laden is kind of crazy." Then in 2003 the US invaded Iraq (to find WMD! oh he didnt have any? oh well, 'I would have invaded anyway' says Bush). Support for Al Qaeda has, as predicted, skyrocketed. The US govt knew all this by the way.
Any terrorism analyst will tell you, and it is the *official* combined assesment of the combined intelligence agencies of the United States, that the US presence in Iraq has caused and is creating more support for Al Qaeda and terrorism. The CIA concluded in 2005 that Iraq had already become a "base of operations" for Al Qaeda (which this report says we must prevent.)
If we leave Iraq "Al Qaeda could win a propaganda victory and expand its base of operations."
1. Al Qaeda acheived the greatest propaganda victory in its history by our invasion of Iraq. Everyday that we continue to occupy Iraq, and kill more Iraqi civilians (accident or not) is another fantastic propaganda victory for Iraq.
2. If the US left Iraq, it would difficult to see how that would result in the country becoming a "base of operations" for Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda came to Iraq after the US invaded, to kill Americans. They are detested by the Shia majority in the South and the Kurds in the North; the only support they have is a nominal alliance with the Sunni insurgency whose goal is to get the US to leave. They are only there, and allowed to be there, because of the US occupation.
3. If the US leaves Iraq, with no permanent bases, and allows an independent government; this will be a massive propaganda DEFEAT for Al Qaeda, who is arguing that the US intends to keep permanent bases (which is true) and prevent an independent government (which is true.)
Two other consequences if the US withdraws: "The global standing of the United States could be diminished." and "Americans could become more polarized."
1. When I read the first sentence I just laughed and thought the US is so hated, more so then its history, I cant imagine it could get worse. But I realized they arnt talking about that. The US rules the world through fear, it has "street cred". A lot of government elites cheered the invasion for, among other reasons, showing how tough/strong the US is and to send a message to the rest of the world "ha ha, dont fuck with us or you are dead!" (the result being, of course, a race among third world countries to develop nuclear weapons as protection.) If we LEAVE Iraq, it will show weakness (they were obsessed with this after Vietnam).
Well, they are of course correct about this. But what you might miss is this is quite revealing about what their real objectives in Iraq are. We went in for WMD, they werent there. Check. We went in to remove Saddam, check. We went in to establish democracy, Check. Why would it make the US look weak if we left? Because almost everyone in the world, except the American people, know the US wasnt there for those reasons. It invaded to establish a client state in Iraq, controlled by the US, mainly for the oil; and to send a message of force. If we leave now, we fail, and lose our street cred "global standing."
2. "Americans could become more polarized." I agree. The American people overwhelmingly are against the war and a huge majority wants us out within a year, a smaller majorit wants us out now. If we LEAVE Iraq, the American will lose an issue that brought them together. So they will turn to other stuff, like abortion, and become polarized.
Recommendations I want to comment on:
1. "The issue of Iran's nuclear programs should continue to be dealt with by the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany." The issue should be dealt with by the IAEA, (International Atomic Energy Agency, division of UN) which is the IAEA's JOB! The Iranians are not doing anything illegal (the NPT, a treaty signed by the US and Iran recognize's the 'inalienable right' to a nuclear energy program.) The US wants the issue in the Security Council because the S.C. is controlled by the US and the other four major nuclear powers (UK,France,China,Russia); as opposed to the General Assembly which is the body of ALL member nations (and the US cant veto anything). The problem with the General Assembly is most countries support Iran's program, because its not illegal. So the US wants the issue turned to the Security Council.
Now, this is pretty irrelevant to the purpose of their report. Its because the report recommends getting Iran involved in solving the Iraq problem. I think they added that to say "But we arnt saying you have to treat Iran with respect; treat them like shit, show them who is in charge. But get their help with Iraq." Yeah see how that works out.
Lastly I'll comment on their recommendation for solving the Arab-Israeli conflict. Now, this is quite simply. Israel should end the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, and allow a Palestinian State there. Thats been the position of nearly the whole world since the 70's, passes the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly every year (with the US, Israel and Paula/Micronesia voting against) but vetoed in the Security Council. The Arab League passed the 'Saudi Plan' in 2002 which says if Israel does this, every Arab state will recognize Israel, make a full peace treaty, and integrate them into the region. After President Ahmedinjead of Iran said Israel should be wiped off the map; he was reprimanded and the real leader of the country Ayatollah Khameini, announced Iran supports the Arab Plan.
So thats my suggestion for a solution. the US and Israel would rather prefer that Israel takeover large parts of the west bank and push the palestinians into little apartheid cantons for the rest of their lives. Thats why we dont have a solution.
Thats the Executive Summary. Will post on the rest of the report tonight