The one line from the ISG Report that has been most consistently misinterpreted to the American public by the media has been this pithy statement (p. 48):There is no action the American military can take that, by itself, can bring...

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Jeffrey Feldman, Editor-in-Chief
Frameshop, 12/12/2006

The one line from the ISG Report that has been most consistently misinterpreted to the American public by the media has been this pithy statement (p. 48):

There is no action the American military can take that, by itself, can bring about success in Iraq.

This line has led most reporterst to conclude that the ISG by and large recommends U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq--in other words: the opposite of what the President is proposing.

In fact, if we actually read the report we find something quite different from a general recommendation of U.S. troop withdrawl.

That is because the ISG is not actually proposing that U.S. forces simply pull back, but that they become more "imbedded" in Iraq, by which they mean: sink deeper.

Shocking? It should not be, as the ISG proposal to put our troops deeper and deeper into harms way while at the same time saying that there is no military solution to Iraq, suggests that the Baker team--despite its strong language--is far less attached to reality than the media has been saying.

But even worse than sinking our troops deeper into Iraq, the ISG proposes that we bring CSI to Baghdad.

ISG Military Strategy Proposes Putting Troops Deeper Into Iraq
Despite all the media-hyped drama between President Bush and the ISG, key passages from the report suggest that the Baker-Hamilton group is proposing anything but straightforward troop withdrawal. Consider these lines, for example:

The Iraqi government should accelerate the urgently needed national reconciliation program to which it has already committed. And it should accelerate assuming responsibility for Iraqi security by increasing the number and quality of Iraqi Army brigades. As the Iraqi Army increases in size and capability, the Iraqi government should be able to take real responsibility for governance. While this process is under way, and to facilitate it, the United States should significantly increase the number of U.S. military personnel, including combat troops, imbedded in and supporting Iraqi Army units. As these actions proceed, we could begin to move combat forces out of Iraq. (p. 48)

This rhetoric is the most deceptive kind of military propaganda: a proposal to increase troop involvement in Iraq dressed up to look like a proposal to decrease the number of troops in Iraq.

Notice the key phrases:

- "the United States should significantly increase"
- "we could begin to move combat forces out of Iraq"

So, we absolutely must put more troops into Iraqi units, but we can--if we choose and after this milestone--consider pulling troops out of Iraq. Which is to say: combat troops. This might also mean that we pull combat troops out of Iraq while putting more non-combat troops into Iraq.

Clever, clever Mr. Baker! On the surface, it looks like you are talking about troop withdrawal--no military solution, you tell us. But in fact you are playing a rhetorical shell game using "should" and "could" to hide your real proposal: to put more troops in more harms way.

Opposing the President? Hah! The ISG military recommendations are a Christmas gift come early to the President Bush. Given that Bush only wants to solve Iraq by using force and saying that he is not, the ISG report gives him the perfect way to do it: say we are bringing home the troops, when in fact we are sinking them deeper into the mess.

CSI Baghdad
The idea of "imbedding" more and more U.S. forces into Iraq as a solution goes way beyond the armed forces in the ISG report. It also includes a set of proposals that seem to come straight out of the pages of the popular TV show CSI.

Recommendations 57 and 58 are worth reading in their entirety to get the gist of this crazy proposal:

RECOMMENDATION 57: Just as U.S. military training teams are imbedded within Iraqi Army units, the current practice of imbedding U.S. police trainers should be expanded and the numbers of civilian training officers increased so that teams can cover all levels of the Iraqi Police Service, including local police stations. These trainers should be obtained from among experienced civilian police executives and supervisors from around the world. These officers would replace the military police personnel currently assigned to training teams.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has provided personnel to train the Criminal Investigation Division in the Ministry of the Interior, which handles major crimes. The FBI has also fielded a large team within Iraq for counterterrorism activities.

Building on this experience, the training programs should be expanded and should include the development of forensic investigation training and facilities that could apply scientific and technical investigative methods to counterterrorism as well as to ordinary criminal activity.

RECOMMENDATION 58: The FBI should expand its investigative and forensic training and facilities within Iraq, to include coverage of terrorism as well as criminal activity. One of the major deficiencies of the Iraqi Police Service is its lack of equipment, particularly in the area of communications and motor transport.

In other words, if the FBI can just teach the Iraqis to solve more mysteries using the latest in forensic science--well, we just might have a hit show in Baghdad!

Yep. These guys are grasping at straws. While I am sure it would be great to bring the Iraqi police force up to speed as some kind of new spinoff of the CSI franchise, it all boils down to more and more U.S. presence in Iraq. And all the while, the media is telling us that the ISG is knocking heads with the President.

Conclusion: The ISG Report Is Highly Deceptive on Troop Withdrawal
What we see in the ISG report is a very sophisticated rhetorical strategy to frame the deepening involvement in Iraq by U.S. forces as a troop "withdrawal." The report does this by using complex phrasings and circular proposals--saying one thing at the start of a paragraph, then closing that paragraph with the exact opposite.

In the end, if the Bush administration were to adopt the ISG recommendations word for word, it may look like baby bear Bush was being forced to eat his medicine by papa bear Bush's team. But in real terms, the number of U.S. soldiers dying on a daily basis would probably not change. In fact, with all these U.S. forces imbedded here and running CSI-style labs there, it seems likely that the ISG strategy would result in a new spike in the kidnapping of Americans in Iraq--which means that video decapitations would probably come back.

And so, after a week of reading and analyzing this ISG report, I am ready to toss it into the old "round file" along side of the candy wrappers and food scraps that are already in there.

This ISG report may talk about stability, but it is really a proposal about oil and deeper military involvement.

The Republicans have blown it again.

© 2006 Jeffrey Feldman, Frameshop

© Jeffrey Feldman 2006, Frameshop

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