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Iraq Report 'Recipe for Defeat,' Says Right Wing

MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

And now for reaction from some conservatives, who have been increasingly unhappy with the war in their own way. Republican senators including John McCain and Lindsey Graham have been among the voices calling for more U.S. troops there.

NPR's David Greene went online after the report was released today to see how it was received by the right.

DAVID GREENE: One of the leading conservative blogs online is Redstate.com where one posting said today that the blue-blooded wise men of the Iraq Study Group have produced a recipe for defeat. You will excuse me, the blogger wrote, if I believe that talking to Syria while it's in the process of gobbling up its tiny Lebanese neighbor is one of the most cynical, immoral and ill-considered diplomatic ideas in a generation.

ERICK ERICKSON: Um, pulling up the site meter here, we are for the day at about 9,000 people thus far, and I'm not aware of a positive comment yet entered into any of these pieces about the ISG report.

GREENE: That's Erick Erickson, the managing editor of Redstate.com. He says many conservatives have expressed a feeling of disappointment with the report, much as he expected.

ERICKSON: Because this is the way James Baker has always operated, that's the general sense over the Internet this morning is - always try to get a Palestinian state, try to make Israel take its share of the blame for what's going on in the Middle East, and try to negotiate as best we can with Syria and Iran.

GREENE: So what do these critics think should be done in Iraq?

ERICKSON: Redstate put up a poll last week asking should we reduce troops, increase troops, have a summit, cut and run or actually unleash hell. And like 66 percent said it's time to finally unleash hell, which we - there's a strong opinion that we have not done.

SIEGEL: Unleash hell, not the exact words conservative scholar Frederick Kagan might choose, but Kagan, a military expert at the American Enterprise Institute, has become a hero among conservative bloggers. He's argued that it's time for the U.S. to send more troops into Iraq rather than talk about ways to bring them home.

FREDERICK KAGAN: What the Baker group is saying is that in the context of this sectarian violence, where various groups have taken up arms to gain leverage in the political process, what we should do is get everyone to sit down and be reasonable, and then the violence will stop. That's not the way these things work.

GREENE: Kagan has come up with a model that calls for an injection of 50,000 or so new U.S. forces. The only way, he says, to make Iraq peaceful enough that diplomatic talks can begin. Kagan rejects the position of lawmakers and some military commanders that the U.S. simply doesn't have fresh troops available.

KAGAN: The notion that we can't find an additional 50,000 troops to send to Iraq, if this were a real priority and we really needed to do that to win, is just laughable.

GREENE: But Kagan says more National Guard units would have to be called up, and thousands of U.S. troops in Iraq now would have to extend their tours. I asked him whether President Bush could actually proposed that.

What do you say to Americans if you're the president and you decide to go that route?

KAGAN: You tell the American people above all that you are not simply continuing with the same old, same old and hoping that things will work out, nor are you simply going to try to subcontract our problems in Iraq to Iran and Syria and various other bitter enemies of the United States.

GREENE: So far, President Bush has made it clear he's not keen on the idea of engaging Iran and Syria, and for many conservatives that was the only silver lining on this day.

David Greene, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

David Greene is an award-winning journalist and New York Times best-selling author. He is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, the most listened-to radio news program in the United States, and also of NPR's popular morning news podcast, Up First.

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