WASHINGTON (AP) – President Bush’s war policies have failed in almost every regard, the bipartisan Iraq Study Group concluded yesterday, and it warned of dwindling chances to change course before crisis turns to chaos.

Nearly four years, $400 billion and more than 2,900 U.S. deaths into a deeply unpopular war, violence is bad and getting worse, there is no guarantee of success and the consequences of failure are great, the panel of five Republicans and five Democrats said in a bleak accounting of U.S. and Iraqi shortcomings. The implications, they warned, are dire for terrorism, war in the Middle East and higher oil prices around the world.

It said the United States should find ways to pull back most of its combat forces by early 2008 and focus U.S. troops on training and supporting Iraqi units. The U.S. also should begin a “diplomatic offensive” by the end of the month and engage adversaries Iran and Syria in an effort to quell sectarian violence and shore up the fragile Iraqi government, the report said.

The report’s release followed by a day the sobering assessment by Robert Gates, confirmed yesterday as Bush’s new Pentagon chief, that the United States is not winning in Iraq.

“Despite a massive effort, stability in Iraq remains elusive and the situation is deteriorating,” it said.

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