Okay, the long awaited Iraq Study Group Report is out and this will begin a phase where it's very important to watch carefully what actually happens besides talk. Not to put too fine a point on it, George W Bush is a liar and one who feels entirely justified in lying: this was clearly demonstrated, for those who need more evidence, when he lied about whether he'd replace Rumsfeld a few days before the election and then after he'd dumped Rummy after the election and was asked about this contradiction he blithely said that he believed political campaign tactics justified his lying. So now that he's lost the election the Rove-Machiavelli spin is how much he wants to come together and cooperate. Do not believe a word of it.
According to the Washington Post the report lays emphasis on "substantially expanding the American effort to train fledgling Iraqi security forces while pulling U.S. troops back from combat and patrols." The key is the latter part: will Bush/Cheney pull troops back out of harm's way so we are less likely to have more US kids killed? I tend to doubt it. I heard pseudo-con Kagan (Frederick?) on NPR call for 50,000 more troops. And yet the ISG report says: "The American military has little reserve force to call on if it needs ground forces to respond to other crises around the world."
Iraqi "Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki said Tuesday that he would send envoys to neighboring countries to plan a conference on Iraq, adding momentum to calls for a regional approach to quell the increasingly anarchic war here." (See New York Times.) This is apparently a change of mind for Maliki and may be a positive sign. The ISG report also places major emphasis about talking to at least Syria about Iraq but I'm not sure the pseudo-conservative generated hostility toward Syria hasn't already made this next to impossible: when James Baker advocated this today he felt the need to make all sorts of bows to the crazy pseudo-con nonsense, saying this wasn't "talking for the sake of talking" and we would be very tough with Syria in any talks having a whole list of things we'd ask of them. These are clear signs of the pseudo-conservative distortions that have been injected into US foreign policy: who in the world would advocate "talking for the sake of talking", this is one of those crazy strawmen erected by the pseudo-cons which everyone now seems to feel they must knock down. It's fascinating how the 'toughest' right-wing nonsense tends to set the terms of debate; no one will stand up and say the pseudo-cons have no clothes, that all the stuff they say about not 'talking for the sake of talking' is simply idiotic rhetoric that should simply be ignored.