The ISG revisited

Remember how Democrats reacted to the release of the Iraq Study Group report back in December? Here’s a refresher:

Democratic leaders said the report underscores the message American voters sent in the November mid-term elections, when Democrats gained control of the House and Senate.

House Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement that the study group’s recommendations are consistent with Democratic proposals “to change the primary mission of U.S. troops in Iraq from combat to training and support, which would enable the redeployment of U.S. forces to begin.”

“Now that the study group has endorsed this proposal, I hope that the president will recognize that he must take our policy in Iraq in a new direction,” Pelosi said.

In fact, they were frustrated that the President didn’t seem too keen on some of the recommendations:

WASHINGTON – Top Democrats in Congress left a White House meeting with President Bush on Friday frustrated over what they perceived as his reluctance to embrace major recommendations from the bipartisan Iraq Study Group.

Democrats stressed to Bush in separate meetings the dire need for the administration to revamp its Iraq policy, but they don’t expect him to embrace all 79 recommendations made this week by the panel, which was chaired by former Secretary of State James Baker and former Rep. Lee Hamilton, D-Ind.


But some Democrats came away unconvinced that major changes were coming.

“I just didn’t feel there today, the president in his words or his demeanor, that he is going to do anything right away to change things drastically,” Senate Majority Leader-elect Harry Reid, D-Nev., said following the Oval Office meeting. “He is tepid in what he talks about doing. Someone has to get the message to this man that there have to be significant changes.”

So from those two reports, we gathered three things: 1) that Democrats thought the ISG’s findings were ‘consistent’ with their recommendations for ‘change’ in Iraq, 2) Democrats considered the findings to mean that the ISG was recommending a timetable to get out of Iraq, and 3) Democrats were worried that the President wouldn’t embrace the ‘major components’ of the ISG’s recommendations, something they thought he should do because the recommendations were ‘consistent’ with theirs.

Fast forward to now, to an opinion piece written by James Baker, the co-chair of the ISG (emphasis added):

The report does not set timetables or deadlines for the removal of troops, as contemplated by the supplemental spending bills the House and Senate passed. In fact, the report specifically opposes that approach. As many military and political leaders told us, an arbitrary deadline would allow the enemy to wait us out and would strengthen the positions of extremists over moderates. A premature American departure from Iraq, we unanimously concluded, would almost certainly produce greater sectarian violence and further deterioration of conditions in Iraq and possibly other countries.

The goal of the United States should be to help Iraqis achieve national political reconciliation and greater effectiveness of their security forces, the report said, so that Iraqis can assume more of the security mission. This in turn could allow for an orderly departure of U.S. troops. An important way to encourage Iraqis to work together is to hold them to the type of benchmarks that Congress, President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki have all considered. If the Iraqi government does not meet those benchmarks, the United States “should reduce its political, military, or economic support for the Iraqi government,” the report said. But we did not suggest that this be codified into legislation. The report doesn’t recommend a firm deadline for troop removal unless America’s military leadership believes that the situation warrants it.

Nothing has happened since the report was released that would justify changing that view. Setting a deadline for withdrawal regardless of conditions in Iraq makes even less sense today because there is evidence that the temporary surge is reducing the level of violence in Baghdad. As Baghdad goes, so goes Iraq. The Iraq Study Group said it could support a short-term surge to stabilize Baghdad or to speed up training and equipping of Iraqi soldiers if the U.S. commander in Iraq determines such steps would be effective. Gen. David Petraeus has so determined.

The president announced a ” new way forward” on Jan. 10 that supports much of the approach called for by the Iraq Study Group. He has since said that he is moving to embrace our recommendations. The president’s plan increases the number of American advisers embedded in Iraqi army units, with the goal that the Iraqi government will assume control of security in all provinces by November. It outlines benchmarks and indicates that the Iraqi government must act to attain them. He has approved ministerial-level meetings of all of Iraq’s neighbors, including Syria and Iran; the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council; and other countries.

So what is Baker saying? That the President himself has embraced more of the ISG’s recommendations than the Democrats who initially supported the ISG’s recommendations and who were worried that the President wouldn’t – the same Democrats who just passed in the House AND Senate war supplementals with a timetable for withdrawal, the same Democrats who are trying to choke off funding for our troops by attempting to send to the President a war supplemental they know he’ll veto because of that timeline! And to that, they already have a back-up plan to try this fruitless, national security-harming exercise all over again.

This isn’t to say that I agree with everything the ISG recommended – I don’t. But for the Democrats to go from supporting the ISG’s recommendations, and criticizing the President’s recluctance to embrace some of them, and then turn around and ignore the very recommendations they said the President should embrace, in favor of pursuing a political agenda that will please only the Nutroots and not benefit this country in any way, shape, or form, is just one more in a long list of hypocritical say one thing, do another actions (see hereand here for more on that) on the part of the political party which is now in control of our House and Senate, and who will be micromanaging the war on terror (or whatever they want to call it, since they’re overly sensitive to calling the war what it is).

They say they ‘support the troops’ but want to deny the very funding that would do just that, funding that would help the troops greatly in moving forward in trying to achieve the goal of winning this war so that they could start coming home – something the administration wants, something the ISG wants – something all of us who realize what’s at stake want. All of this goes to prove that the Democrats never had any intentions of ‘changing course’ in Iraq outside of cutting the funding and running from Iraq as soon as they had the opportunity to act as a majority party.

They made a show of ’embracing’ the ISG’s recommendations, knowing that the President wouldn’t embrace them all, and turned around and used the President’s reluctance as a bashing point, when they never had any intentions of really embracing the recommendations themselves in the first place. It’s like when they complained to the President that we should ‘listen to the generals’ – but apparently only when it comes to them recommending something they want him to do – like firing Rumsfeld. But in other cases, we shouldn’t listen to the generals – like when they testified that withdawing too soon from Iraq was a bad idea.

All of this has been done in an effort to, of course, weaken (more so than he already has been) the President to the point where not even his own party will stand beside him anymore, thereby making him not only an ineffective President, but CIC as well. It’s harmful enough to try and weaken him as President, but as CIC, it’s damaging not just on a national scale, but a global scale at a time when more than ever we need to project strength and unity as a country on the world stage in opposition to Islamofascism wherever it comes from. As always, it’s about power to the Democrats – even in a time of war. As I’ve noted before, if it benefits them politically, to hell with our national security.

(Hat tip for the Baker link: Dafydd at Big Lizards)

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