Larry, you say below that the tide is defeatist. I’m going to go out on a limb and say again that I don’t think the Iraq Study Group recommendations will ride that defeatist tide.
While the ISG report is unlikely to read like an editorial in NR (or The Weekly Standard or the Wall Street Journal) neither will it add up to some new variant of “cut and run.” Bush may find it a useful contribution to the discussion; he may be able to embrace several of the more than 70 recommendations I expect it will contain.
Based on what I’m hearing, I believe the report will recommend that the U.S. accomplish the key mission: that we continue our efforts to leave behind in Iraq a functioning government that can defend and sustain itself.
As I said in this space a few days ago, watch for surprises. Among them: the recommendation that more troops, as many as 20,000, be sent to Iraq to accelerate and intensify the training of Iraqis. Look also for a recommendation for more civilian trainers for the Iraqi police.
Drawing down in Iraq will require the achievement of milestones, rather than simply the reaching of dates on a calendar. With that in mind, expect to see only one date in the ISG report: 2008, when – as Gen. Casey has said – it is hoped and expected that Iraqi units will be operating on a reasonably high level.
What about Iran and Syria? Yes, the ISG is certainly going to recommend increasing “communication” to see if one or both might be willing to be constructive. But here the devil is in the details so let’s wait till we see those details.