Thursday, December 07, 2006

$1.3 million Report of Iraq Study Group

Below is a quick outline of the seventy-nine (79) recommendations of the Baker-Hamilton, Iraq Study Group Report.


  • Parts of the document are not well organized. In particular, some of the last parts about Intelligence gathering, budgeting, and so forth should be in a section more aptly title, "Helping the U.S. to help itself, before helping Iraqis to help themselves".

  • There is a prima facie tension between injunctions to withdraw support, in favor of good behavior (diplomatic quid pro quo), and imperatives to help or assist, on certain things (like bolstering the judiciary, reforming the Interior Ministry, building Iraqi counter-terror investigative abilities).

  • The timeframe(s) carved out by the document are not always clear. Things like the wider regional conflict (the Arab-Israeli issues), perhaps parts of national reconciliation, and provincial (or municipal) elections are not going to be orchestrated in the short or mid term, most likely. Meanwhile, longer-term tasks are envisioned with U.S. support and participation, which may or may not occur, on the document's own calculus.

  • Apart from funding refugee relief (R66), the document makes no recommendations about what to do in the event that sectarian violence is not stalled, except that it does not recommend larger force structure imperatives, which might prove short-sighted in this other context.

  • For a hands-off Administrator or President, this is a daunting list ...


The document can be read as a shift in emphasis and politics, now that the Iraqis have a sovereign, central government, to putting the onus to Iraqi-led responsibility. Personally, I think that this shift ought to have been anticipated by the government in regular course and not required "fresh eyes". It's obvious that, as political control shifts, political positioning must shift to reflect a changed polity.

I believe, reading through the tea-leaves, the military has put its full support behind this shift, because they no longer want to be in Iraq a day more than necessary and have a sober view of the limits of their political influence (and, in some cases, their own dis-utility).

Still, cynics will read this necessary shift as a move toward blame-and-run. Whether it turns out that way will be a matter of watching what happens in the details, which is the only place that sincerity and good-faith can be judged, ultimately.


One main thrust is that not enough people are working on Iraq, especially in the area of producing political reconciliation, forestalling catastrophe, and giving local combatants a larger local context in which to view their actions. Will 'more and diverse' attention attend resolution or just draw more parties into conflict? I suspect that risk is worth taking up.


Some things, like comments on the oil sector, look like sound external pressure for important change.


There was a bit of humor in the document, as well. In one section on setting milestones, it is noted that things that couldn't be done in 4Q06 should be done by 1Q07 (cf. R24). It is a bit ironic to be firm about milestones for others, but to be so generous with yourself.


There is very little 'big picture' in the document. There are no sweeping recommendations or policy statements for combatting extremism, mid-term or longer-term, in the Muslim world (apart from the Arab-Israeli conflict and the nascent Persion-Israeli conflict). No view of what the US role is or what influence the US should seek to exert in the longer-term or how.

In some ways, this kind of 'big think' might be a distraction to getting some action on diplomatic efforts like an "Iraq Support Group". In the end, however, it may not be avoided, as it seems that the nation needs to come behind a common understanding of the threat and the short, mid, and long-term ways that the government is going to set about addressing that, which is the larger context for Iraq, to some extent.

Apart from language skills, not much on remaking the government's institutions to track an al-qa'ida threat longer-term.

Very little was given from a pure counter-insurgency perspective perspective, except a need to try to engage all groups politically.


  1. The External Approach

    1. The New Diplomatic Offensive

        R1: The offensive
        R2: Goals of the offsensive
        R3: Meeting in Baghdad of OIC or Arab League

      The International Support Group

        R4: Create ‘Tool’ of Iraq Group,
        R5: Members of the ISG among neighbors, Arab League, 5 UNSC, the EU, others (S. Korea)
        R6: Who should lead group: President or Sec of State
        R7: Call on the U.N. and a U.N. Special Envoy
        R8: ISG to tailor approaches to specific neighbors needs

      Dealing with Syria and Iran

        R9: Via ISG, engage Iran/Syria, using incentives and disincentives
        “Although Iran sees as in its interest to have the US bogged down in Iraq, …”
        R10: Iran’s nuclear program to be dealt with via UNSC, still
        R11: ISG influence Iran

          i. “Iran should stem the flow of equipment, technology, and training to any group resorting to violence in Iraq.”
          ii. “Iran should make clear its support for the territorial integrity of Iraq as a unified State, as well as respect for the sovereignty of Iraq and its government.”
          iii. “Iran can use its influence, especially over Shia groups in Iraq, to encourage national reconciliation.”
          iv. “Iran can also, in the right circumstances, help in the economic reconstruction of Iraq.”

        R12: US and ISG to “encourage and persuade” Syria

          i. “Syria can control its border with Iraq to the maximum extent possible…”
          ii. Establish hotlines to exchange information with the Iraqis
          iii. Increase political and economic cooperation with Iraq

      The Wider Regional Context

        “The US does its ally Israel no favors in avoiding direct involvement to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict. For several reasons, we should act boldly.” p. 54
        R13: A “renewed and sustained commitment” to A-I conflict on all “fronts”.
        R14: Talks on two tracks, Syria/Lebanon, Palestinians (“who recognize Israel”)
        R15 The Elements of a negotiated peace with Syria, enumerated
        R16: Israelis should return the Golan, with U.S. Security Guarantee …
        R17: The Elements of a negotiated peace with the Palestinians, enumerated
        R18 Political, Economic, and Military support for Afghanistan

  2. The Internal Approaches

    1. Performance on Milestones

        R19: Close contacts with Iraqis with “a message” of meeting milestones; public diplomacy effort to keep all relevant publics apprised.
        R20: Quid pro quo: For progress in National reconciliation, security, governance, the US can make clear its continuance of efforts to train, equip, and build.
        R21: Quid pro quo: Without progress, withdraw support
        R22: President should “make clear” (to whom?, how?) that US does not seek permanent bases in Iraq
        R23: President should “restate” that US does not seek to control Iraqi Oil

      Milestones for Iraq

        i. National Reconciliation related, p. 62
        ii. Security, p. 63
        iii. Governance, p. 63
        R24: 1Q07 for anything that cannot be done in 4Q06 [!!!]
        R25: Work with Iraqis to develop additional milestones

      National Reconciliation

        Iraqi Steps to Take

          R26: Constitutional review on an urgent basis – UN has expertise to share.
          R27: De de-Baathification: US “should encourage return of qualified Iraqi professionals … into the government”
          R28: Oil revenue should be central gov’t and shared on the basis of population
          R29: Provincial elections should have been held already
          R30: “International arbitration is necessary to avert communal violence in Kirkuk”
          R31 “Amnesty proposals must be far-reaching”
          R32 Minority rights protected
          R33 Iraqi gov’t should stop “registering” NGOs as a means of censorship of excluding certain groups

        US Steps to take

          R34 The future of U.S. force “on the table” to lubricate talks. UN to facilitate talks with power-brokers, not just elected officials
          R35 Find a way to talk to Sistani, al-Sadr, and militia or insurgent leaders
          R36 Encourage dialogue between Iraqi communities, religious leaders to offer messages of peace/reconciliation
          R37 Amnesty proposals not to be undercut in Washington

        The militias and national reconciliation

          R38 Support the presence of international experts as advisors on disarmament, demobilization, and re-integration
          R39 US to provide financial and technical expertise and legal expertise.

      Security and Military Forces

        For Iraq

          R40: No open-ended commitment
          R41: US forces should not be hostage to Iraqi gov’t inaction
          R42: Training and equipping by 1Q2008
          R43: Military priorities shift to train and equip
          R44: Embed US forces [to accelerate] and give personnel consideration to soldiers who do
          R45: More and Better Equipment

        For the US (“Restoring the US Military)

          R46: “Every effort” to build healthy civil-military relations, as envision by Goldwater-Nichols Act
          R47: As part of redeployment, training and education programs …
          R48: As equipment returns, Congress appropriate full funds to “restore the equipment to full functionality over the next five years”
          R49: Budget review to assess the “full future budgetary impact of the war”

      Police and Criminal Justice

      Poor reforms, poor organization allows infiltration

        For Iraqi government

          R50: Consolidate National Police (“counterinsurgency mission”) in Ministry of Defense, not Interior
          R51: Transfer Border Police to Ministry of Defense (current role resembles little of ordinary border policing)“Accomplishing these goals will not be easy, and the presence of American advisors will be required to help Iraqis …”
          R52: Iraqi Police Service more authority to conduct investigations and integrate with judicial prosecution
          R53: Reform Ministry of Interior – expanded role in criminal pursuit, sole authority to pay Police
          R54: Ministry of Interior – control the Facilities Protection Services and/or demobilize it

        For US

          R55: Continue Mission to train National police and Border police
          R56: US DOJ should “direct” the training of forces in reformed Interior Ministry
          R57: Expand police training and training force
          R58: FBI to expand forensic facilities, equipment, training in Iraq (Iraqi Police Services)
          R59: Iraqi gov’t spend money to upgrade communications/equipment of Iraqi Police Services
          R60: US DOJ to work alongside Iraqi Ministry of Interior to transform its practices and procedures
          R61: Fully fund and vigorously support DOJ efforts to build Iraqi judiciary, harden Iraqi judicial facilities, and build out services.

      The Oil Sector
      “Even if Iraq were peaceful tomorrow, oil production would decline unless current problems in the oil sector were addressed.”

        Short-term: R62 [five parts]: Legal Clarity; South to work-over at own expense; calibrate local tribe payments to throughput to protect oil infrastructure; immediate metering to raise accountability; “in conjunction with the IMF” to stop subsidizing energy sector/energy consumption
        Long-term: R63 [five-parts]: Encourage external investment; reorganize oil industry as a commercial enterprise’ combat corruption (use transparency); use World Bank’s best practices on contracting; improve management

      US Economic and Reconstruction Assistance

        R64: Econ assistance should increase to a level of $5 billion, not be permitted to decline
        R65: More involvement of others, beyond just funding
        R66: Fund relief of refugee problem (UN High Commissioner)
        Coordination of Econ Assistance

          R67: President should create a Senior Advisor for Economic Reconstruction


          R68: Chief of Mission should have discretion over funds and de-funding projects in which Iraqi partnership is lacking
          R69: Renew Special IG for Iraq
          R70: Improve inter-agency (“flexibility”)
          R71: End whatever US-only funding of projects

      Budget Preparation, Presentation, and Review

        R72: On-budget for FY2008

      US Personnel

        R73: Develop professional language skills
        R74: Directed assignments, if not enough volunteers
        R75: “longer term” rethink inter-agency along the lines of Goldwater-Nichols
        R76: State Department, Treasury, Justice, Agriculture – all need to tool for long-term stability operations

      Intelligence Services p. 93

        R77: More resources to understanding the threats and sources of violence inside Iraq
        R78: Immediate changes to data collection to get a more accurate picture of violence and its perpetrators

        Iraqi Actions

          R79: CIA to add personnel to train an Iraqi counter-terror effort

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