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Thursday, August 09, 2007

When You Lose the RAND Corporation . . . . 

Not to steal Gen. Petraeus's thunder, but:
A US withdrawal from Iraq may be "impossible to resist" unless violence against civilians falls substantially, a study funded by the US Air Force warned Wednesday. The study by the RAND Corporation said that reducing violence against Iraqi civilians should be the primary objective of US strategy as long as US forces are in Iraq . . . .

"If the number of Iraqis who die violently does not fall substantially by the summer of 2007, domestic political pressure to withdraw US forces may become impossible to resist," the report said.

US military officials say the surge in US forces this year has dampened the violence.

But figures compiled by three Iraqi ministries and seen by AFP show that civilian deaths rose to 1,652 in July -- a third more than the previous month, and slightly more than in February, the first month of surge.

Olga Oliker, the lead author of the RAND report, titled "Policy Options for Iraq: a Reassessment," said the current levels of violence in Iraq suggest that the surge is not reducing violence.

"Look, Iraqis continue to die at a very high rates, thousands leave the country every single day," she said in a telephone interview. "I would say violence remains unacceptably high" . . . .

The study recommended against trying to retain control of Iraq's oil, and urged that relations be maintained with the Iraqi government even if it is unfriendly.

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