Iraq Study Group: “Situation in Iraq is Grave and Deteriorating”

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The bottom line in the much anticipated Iraq Study Group report, which was released this morning, is a new emphasis on embedded special operations and combat teams within the Iraqi military, allowing a drawdown of troops in the region. Under this model, intelligence and logistical support would likely continue to come from the U.S., and, since Iraq has no air force, the U.S. would probably fill this gap as well.

The report, which notes that “the situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating,” says that U.S. military operations in Iraq “should evolve” so that “by the first quarter of 2008… all combat brigades not necessary for force protection should be out of Iraq. At that time, U.S. combat forces in Iraq could be deployed only in units embedded with Iraqi forces, in rapid-reaction and special operations teams, and in training, equipping, advising, force protection and search and rescue.”

The CIA irregulars played such a key role in Afghanistan and Robert Gates, who seems likely to be headed for confirmation as Secretary of Defense, is especially knowledgeable about irregular warfare and covert actions, almost ensuring the elevation of special operations within the overall military structure.

The study group’s report also addresses the question of oil, which will almost certainly play a large role in the unfolding diplomacy in the region, but especially in Iraq and Iran where American companies have long sought access. Improving relations with Iran, as the study group advocates, could open the way for trade with the U.S. and possibly access to pipelines transporting oil — and especially natural gas — from central Asia. In Iraq, much of the discussion has focused on economic, if not political division of the country, and potentially divvying up oil revenues to Shia, Sunni, and Kurd territories, with each group cutting its own deals with the big oil companies. But the study group’s recommendations run counter to this thinking, and it advocates a strong central government: “The United States should support as much as possible central control by governmental authorities in Baghdad, particularly on the question of oil revenues.” Overall, the study group proposes reorganizing the oil industry as a “commercial enterprise.”

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

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Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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