In an op-ed in today’s Washington Post, National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley claims the administration’s escalation plan simply follows the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group:
The Baker-Hamilton report supports this conclusion. It said: “We could, however, support a short-term redeployment or surge of American combat forces to stabilize Baghdad . . . if the U.S. commander in Iraq determines that such steps would be effective.” Our military commanders, and the president, have determined just that.
Tony Snow unveiled the new talking point earlier this month:
What we have done — if you take a look at page 73, where it talks about building capabilities, putting Iraqis in the lead, and there was even some talk about “a surge,” that’s in there.
The Iraq Study Group did say a “short-term redeployment” of more troops into Baghdad could be part of a larger military, economic, and diplomatic plan. But both American Enterprise Institute’s Fred Kagan — the architect of the escalation plan — and Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno — the new U.S. ground commander in Iraq — have said the escalation could last anywhere between 18 months and 3 years. That’s hardly “short-term.”
Moreover, the Iraq Study Group report specifically argued against sending more troops to Iraq:
Sustained increases in U.S. troop levels would not solve the fundamental cause of violence in Iraq, which is the absence of national reconciliation. A senior American general told us that adding U.S. troops might temporarily help limit violence in a highly localized area. However, past experience indicates that the violence would simply rekindle as soon as U.S. forces are moved to another area. As another American general told us, if the Iraqi government does not make political progress, “all the troops in the world will not provide security.”
The Iraq Study Group’s co-chair Lee Hamilton recently spoke out against the plan. “You delay the date of completion of the training mission,” Hamilton said. “You delay the date of handing responsibility to the Iraqis. You delay the date of departure of U.S. troops.”