Sunday, December 10, 2006

Bush: Iraq Study Group Endorses Key U.S. Strategic Goal

By Gerry J. Gilmore

Dec. 10, 2006 – The Iraq Study Group report agrees with the main U.S. government goal of what should occur in that Middle Eastern country, President Bush said yesterday. Findings of the study group provide an accurate assessment of the serious situation the U.S. and its allies are facing in Iraq, Bush told Americans in his weekly radio address.

The group's report "also explicitly endorses the strategic goal we've set in Iraq," Bush said, which is an Iraq that can govern itself, sustain itself, and defend itself.

The study group, chaired by former Secretary of State James Baker and former U.S. Rep. Lee Hamilton, was created to advise a way ahead in Iraq. The group presented 79 recommendations to the president and Congress Dec. 6.

The report envisions an Iraqi government that represents its entire population, has the ability to maintain its borders and is at peace with its neighbors, Bush said.

Bush said the report also specifies that the Iraqi government should not brutalize its people, and that Iraq should never become a sanctuary for terrorists.

The report says the current violent situation in Iraq makes it likely it will take a long time for the new Iraqi government to get onto its feet, Bush said, and that occurrence will largely hinge on the actions of the Iraqi people.

"I agree with this assessment," Bush said. "I was also encouraged that the Iraq Study Group was clear about the consequences of a precipitous withdrawal [of
U.S. military forces] from Iraq."

Bush said the study group declared that an early
U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq would most likely lead to more sectarian violence, a power vacuum, increased human suffering, regional destabilization, and put the global economy in peril.

"My administration is reviewing the report and we will seriously consider every recommendation," Bush said.

The president thanked the study group for its work, noting that both he and the group believe that success in Iraq is possible.

The Pentagon, the State Department, and the National Security Council are now completing work on their own reviews of strategy in Iraq, Bush said.

"I look forward to receiving their recommendations," Bush said. "I want to hear all advice as I make the decisions to chart a new course in Iraq."

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