Okay, I'm admittedly way late to the ISG Party, but I have to work. And then I have to recuperate from work. So others have probably said everything I have to say, but I might as well get my observations out of my system anyway. They're bullet points because I'm all corporate.
1) Atrios is entirely correct in that even if the ISG plan is the most brilliant plan ever (which it's not) and would transform Iraq into an America-loving secular democracy in six months if followed in its entirety... it will never be followed in its entirety. Bush will simply implement the parts of it that fit in with what he already wanted to do anyway. And, I might add, when it all inevitably falls apart, he will then place all the blame on them (tell me again why anyone would ever want to be a part of this group?). At least they tried to cover their asses by saying that the plan had to be implemented in its entirety, but who's gonna remember that when everything blows up? Okay, blows up more.
2) Some of the recommendations bring to mind the old saying, "Hope is not a plan." Negotiate with Iran and Syria to get them to help us out? Tell the Iraqi government to make "substantial progress" on reconciliation and security or we'll pull the plug?
3) Um, 70-80,000 is still an awful lot of troops. And if the Iraqi troops and police aren't up to snuff (inconceivable!), the remaining troops will be even more vulnerable than they are now. Realistically, I can see Bush pretending to agree to this and then stalling and dragging his feet to ensure that it becomes his successor's problem. Which, of course, has been his plan ever since it became clear that Iraq wasn't going to spontaneously morph into a model democracy all by itself.
4) Some telling tidbits:
o Bush saying he's not looking for a "graceful exit." (When has he ever?)
o "While the panel was careful to modulate its wording to avoid phrases and rigid timelines that might alienate the White House..." (How pathetic is it that they have to sugarcoat the report so the leader of the free world won't petulantly dismiss it?)
o The commission also abandoned the definition of “victory in Iraq” that President Bush laid out as his own strategy a year ago, and its report did not embrace the White House’s early aspiration that Iraq might be transformed into a democracy at any time in the near future. “We want to stay current,” Mr. Hamilton said briskly when asked about that decision. (Ouch.)
o Their findings left Washington awash in speculation over whether Mr. Bush, who thanked the members for their work and, in a private meeting, did nothing to push back against their findings, would embark on a huge reversal in policy. To do so would represent a[n] admission that three and a half years of strategy had failed, and that Mr. Bush’s repeated assurances to the American people that “absolutely, we’re winning” were based more on optimism than realism. His national security adviser, Stephen J. Hadley, has said that the president would announce a major change of course in “weeks, not months,” but given no hint how extensive it would be. (Try to imagine the worst choice possible, and that's what Bush will announce.)
I don't have high hopes. Even if implemented in its entirety, I don't think the plan would help a whole lot. And the odds of it being implemented in its entirety are roughly equal to the odds of Bush admitting error. This is not a coincidence.