BENCHMARKING THE BENCHMARKS….As part of All-ISG-All-The-Time Day here at the Washington Monthly, here’s a handy reference chart of the main recommendations made in the ISG report. I haven’t included every single recommendation here, but most of them are listed along with my guess about whether there’s any chance of George Bush taking them seriously:

Rec #s


Bush’s Likely Reaction


“New Diplomatic Offensive.” Talk to Syria and Iran. Hold a conference of all regional players.

Bush has already said he won’t talk to Syria and Iran. The regional conference is a possibility, but without Syria and Iran it’s probably little more than fig leaf.


Restart the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Bush has never shown any interest in this.


Set various milestones for the Iraqi government. Push hard on national reconciliation.

Bush will probably say that these things are already being pursued. However, if Zalmay Khalilzad couldn’t get them done, who can? It’s unlikely that Bush will appoint anyone who can make serious progress on this.


Increase U.S. advisory role in Iraqi military units. Withdraw combat troops by 2008.

Nonstarter. Bush will never agree to this.


Transfer the Iraqi National Police and the Border Police to the Ministry of Defense. Various suggestions for U.S. training of Iraqi police.

Hard to say what Bush thinks about this. Most likely he doesn’t care much. More to the point, though, it’s not clear that the United States has the influence or authority to make this happen.


Increase U.S. economic assistance. Include more international participation.

He might push for this. Hard to say for sure, though, and also hard to say if Congress has much stomach for it unless there’s some reason to think it will be more effective than past reconstruction efforts.

Obviously these are just guesses on my part, though Bush himself has already given short shrift to the idea of talks with Syria and Iran, as well as the recommendation to begin withdrawing combat troops. In any case, regardless of whether the ISG’s recommendations have any chance of working, it strikes me that Bush will be unwilling to take very many of them seriously. Expect lots of weasel words but not much serious action.

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