Presented by Lapham's Quarterly and the Institute for the Future of the Book

The initiative for a bipartisan, independent, forward-looking “fresh-eyes” assessment of Iraq emerged from conversations U.S. House Appropriations Committee Member Frank Wolf had with us. In late 2005, Congressman Wolf asked the United States Institute of Peace, a bipartisan federal entity, to facilitate the assessment, in collaboration with the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University, the Center for the Study of the Presidency, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Interested members of Congress, in consultation with the sponsoring organizations and the administration, agreed that former Republican U.S. Secretary of State James A. Baker, III and former Democratic Congressman Lee H. Hamilton had the breadth of knowledge of foreign affairs required to co-chair this bipartisan effort. The co-chairs subsequently selected the other members of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, all senior individuals with distinguished records of public service. Democrats included former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry, former Governor and U.S. Senator Charles S. Robb, former Congressman and White House chief of staff Leon E. Panetta, and Vernon E. Jordan, Jr., advisor to President Bill Clinton. Republicans included former Associate Justice to the U.S. Supreme Court Sandra Day O’Connor, former U.S. Senator Alan K. Simpson, former Attorney General Edwin Meese III, and former Secretary of State Lawrence S. Eagleburger. Former CIA Director Robert Gates was an active member for a period of months until his nomination as Secretary of Defense.

The Iraq Study Group was launched on March 15, 2006, in a Capitol Hill meeting hosted by U.S. Senator John Warner and attended by congressional leaders from both sides of the aisle.

To support the Study Group, the sponsoring organizations created four expert working groups consisting of 44 leading foreign policy analysts and specialists on Iraq. The working groups, led by staff of the United States Institute of Peace, focused on the Strategic Environment, Military and Security Issues, Political Development, and the Economy and Reconstruction. Every effort was made to ensure the participation of experts across a wide span of the political spectrum. Additionally, a panel of retired military officers was consulted.

We are grateful to all those who have assisted the Study Group, especially the supporting experts and staff. Our thanks go to Daniel P. Serwer of the Institute of Peace, who served as executive director; Christopher Kojm, advisor to the Study Group; John Williams, Policy Assistant to Mr. Baker; and Ben Rhodes, Special Assistant to Mr. Hamilton.

Richard H. Solomon, President United States Institute of Peace

Edward P. Djerejian, Founding Director James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy, Rice University

David M. Abshire, President Center for the Study of the Presidency

John J. Hamre, President Center for Strategic and International Studies

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