Text of a letter from the co-chairmen of the Iraq Study Group accompanying their report on how to revamp U.S. policy in Iraq
Iraq Study Group
The Associated Press
Originally published December 6, 2006
There is no magic formula to solve the problems of Iraq. However, there are actions that can be taken to improve the situation and protect American interests.
Many Americans are dissatisfied, not just with the situation in Iraq but with the state of our political debate regarding Iraq. Our political leaders must build a bipartisan approach to bring a responsible conclusion to what is now a lengthy and costly war. Our country deserves a debate that prizes substance over rhetoric, and a policy that is adequately funded and sustainable. The President and Congress must work together. Our leaders must be candid and forthright with the American people in order to win their support.
No one can guarantee that any course of action in Iraq at this point will stop sectarian warfare, growing violence, or a slide toward chaos. If current trends continue, the potential consequences are severe. Because of the role and responsibility of the United States in Iraq, and the commitments our government has made, the United States has special obligations. Our country must address as best it can Iraq’s many problems. The United States has long-term relationships and interests at stake in the Middle East, and needs to stay engaged.
In this consensus report, the ten members of the Iraq Study Group present a new approach because we believe there is a better way forward. All options have not been exhausted. We believe it is still possible to pursue different policies that can give Iraq an opportunity for a better future, combat terrorism, stabilize a critical region of the world, and protect America’s credibility, interests, and values. Our report makes it clear that the Iraqi government and the Iraqi people also must act to achieve a stable and hopeful future.
What we recommend in this report demands a tremendous amount of political will and cooperation by the executive and legislative branches of the U.S. government. It demands skillful implementation. It demands unity of effort by government agencies. And its success depends on the unity of the American people in a time of political polarization. Americans can and must enjoy the right of robust debate within a democracy. Yet U.S. foreign policy is doomed to failure — as is any course of action in Iraq — if it is not supported by a broad, sustained consensus. The aim of our report is to move our country toward such a consensus.
We want to thank all those we have interviewed and those who have contributed information and assisted the Study Group, both inside and outside the U.S. government, in Iraq, and around the world. We thank the members of the expert working groups, and staff from the sponsoring organizations. We especially thank our colleagues on the Study Group, who have worked with us on these difficult issues in a spirit of generosity and bipartisanship.
In presenting our report to the President, Congress, and the American people, we dedicate it to the men and women — military and civilian — who have served and are serving in Iraq, and to their families back home. They have demonstrated extraordinary courage and made difficult sacrifices. Every American is indebted to them.
We also honor the many Iraqis who have sacrificed on behalf of their country, and the members of the Coalition Forces who have stood with us and with the people of Iraq.
James A. Baker III, Lee H. Hamilton