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No New Ideas in Iraq Study Group Report

DANIEL SCHORR: Defense secretary designate Robert Gates won high marks for candor but not for helpless when he testified yesterday, frankly, there are no new ideas on Iraq.

MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

NPR's senior news analyst Daniel Schorr.

SCHORR: Indeed, the long-awaited report of the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group, a marvel of nine months of bipartisan effort contains many ideas we've heard before but nothing that could be characterized as a breakthrough. Phased withdrawal of American combat units and their build-up of training units, yes, we've heard that.

Reduction of economic and military aid to the Maliki government if it doesn't exert more pressure to improve security within a certain timeframe, sounds a little familiar. Formation of an international support group including Syria and Iran, yes, but aren't they posing unacceptable conditions for their cooperation.

Dividing Iraq into three entities that would be a formula for a broad-based civil war, yes, a lot of experts are saying that. The commission's report contains 79 recommendations but few of them likely to win early administration endorsement.

Indeed, the president wants it known that this long labor of bipartisanship is little more than a series of suggestions that he will consider along with a lot of other suggestions.

The commission's assertion that the Bush policy on Iraq is not working is not likely to endear the report to the president, but is likely to get a warmer reception from Congress, Democrat and Republican alike, because of his emphasis on redeployment of combat troops. That was the issue that dominated the November 7th election.

In any event, the new approach the title of the commission's report is likely to replace, stay the course in the national debate.

This is Daniel Schorr.

BLOCK: With all the talk about Iraq today, this final note, the U.S. military announced that 10 American soldiers were killed today in four separate incidents. A spokesman said some died in roadside bombings, others in combat, there were no other details. Since the invasion, more than 2,900 servicemen and women have been killed. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Daniel Schorr
Daniel Schorr passed away on Friday, July 23, 2010. See an obituary, photo gallery and an archive of Schorr's commentaries for NPR.