According to an article in the Guardian, officials at the Pentagon working closely with the Iraq Study Group have leaked the key parts of the group’s upcoming report. There appears to be a four point “victory strategy.” Because President Bush is rumored to be taking the Iraq Study Group’s recommendations very seriously, the content below may be as good an indicator of where Iraq policy is headed as we could possibly have. Worth a read. The points are:
(1) Point one of the strategy calls for an increase rather than a decrease in overall US force levels inside Iraq, possibly by as many as 20,000 soldiers.
(2) Point two of the plan stresses the importance of regional cooperation to the successful rehabilitation of Iraq. This could involve the convening of an international conference of neighbouring countries or more direct diplomatic, financial and economic involvement of US allies such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait…. Yesterday, a top state department official, David Satterfield, said America was prepared in principle to discuss with Iran its activities in Iraq.
(3) Point three focuses on reviving the national reconciliation process between Shia, Sunni and other ethnic and religious parties. According to the sources, creating a credible political framework will be portrayed as crucial in persuading Iraqis and neighbouring countries alike that Iraq can become a fully functional state…. To the certain dismay of US neo-cons, initial post-invasion ideas about imposing fully-fledged western democratic standards will be set aside.
(4) Lastly, the sources said the study group recommendations will include a call for increased resources to be allocated by Congress to support additional troop deployments and fund the training and equipment of expanded Iraqi army and police forces. It will also stress the need to counter corruption, improve local government and curtail the power of religious courts.
And, yeah, the President seems to be buying it. Here’s the lede from the Guardian article: “President George Bush has told senior advisers that the US and its allies must make “a last big push” to win the war in Iraq and that instead of beginning a troop withdrawal next year, he may increase US forces by up to 20,000 soldiers.”
For Dave Gilson’s and Tom Engelhardt’s analysis of how all of this might leave us in Iraq indefinitely for months and years, see this blog post, directly below.