In 2006, the Iraq Study Group (ISG) recommended a gradual troop withdrawal from Iraq, reporting that “sustained increases in U.S. troop levels would not solve the fundamental cause of violence in Iraq.”
Bush ignored the Group’s recommendations. Conservative lawmakers Frank Wolf (R-VA) and Chris Shays (R-CT) are now attempting to revive the ISG for the GOP’s political gain. The Hill reported recently that the duo placed “a little-noticed provision in the fiscal 2008 omnibus spending bill calling for the rebirth of the Iraq Study Group.”
The ISG was supposed to be an independent, bipartisan assessment of the situation in Iraq. This time, however, Wolf wants to infuse the ISG with a right-wing agenda, seeking to “validate” the claim that the military surge is working. His motivation? To help mobilize public opinion in favor of Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) view of the Iraq war:
Wolf said in an interview that he believed a second investigation would validate the Bush administration’s claims that the situation in Iraq has improved dramatically. He also said that he has pressed for the group to publish its findings well before the election, which could help diminish voters’ desire to see the withdrawal of U.S. forces.
That would help the likely Republican nominee, McCain, who supports maintaining a strong troop presence. “They would validate there’s been tremendous improvement,” said Wolf, predicting what the study group would conclude.
Wolf is pressing hard for the new ISG. “They ought to do it sooner and not later,” he said in December. In addition to helping McCain, Wolf appears to be reviving the ISG to aid Gen. Petraeus when he testifies Congress this spring:
The legislative language that could reconstitute the ISG became law at the end of December and gives the new group 90 days to report back, which would fall toward the end of March. That month could shape up to be a highly Iraq-focused time.
Curiously, Wolf didn’t even tell the co-author of the original ISG, Lee Hamilton, about the legislation. “There’s been no contact of me by anyone associated with the Congress that I have not initiated myself,” said Hamilton. “That’s my puzzle. Nobody’s been in touch with me.”
Wolf’s idea is futile and disingenuous. Public opinion is still strongly against the war, even as violence has decreased. Over a year later, the “fundamental causes” — in the ISG’s words — of violence in Iraq remain. But Wolf seems more concerned about bolstering his party than providing real facts about the situation in Iraq.