Friday, December 8, 2006

The Iraq Study Group Report: The Big 3

I've seen enough. This is mandatory reading for the American people because it is primarily addressed to us.

Basically, this is a Shoulda Woulda Coulda indictment on American foreign policy in the Middle East during Bush and Cheney's 'watch' (for lack of a better word). This is a description of their crime scene. Their criminal indictment will have to wait a while longer.

The New York Times says that ISG member Sandra Day O’Connor served as an exacting editor and insisted that the report be written and organized so that it could be readily understood by people who are not foreign policy wonks or pundits. I think we should all embrace this Report as a document addressed to us, the American people.

It is neither a complete nor a compleat statement on Bush's un-provoked, unnecessary, largely unilateral invasion and unplanned occupation of Iraq (UULUIUOI).

It is a list of set of policies needed for moving forward to reduce further damage to ourselves, the Iraqi people, and to the critical area of the Middle East - with no guarantee that, in these circumstances, that they will be sufficient or timely. Co-chairs, Baker and Hamilton caution that Bush and Cheney have weeks, not months, and maybe days” to move to halt the deterioration in Iraq. And that "people talking about very elongated time frames" for developing a new strategy will not serve America well because the moment for effective action already may have passed. In this context, I feel that it's critical that my fellow Americans pay special attention to three basic admonitions.
  • The ISG Report is not a 'fruit salad' to be cherry-picked:
. . . . altogether in this report we make 79 recommendations. In addition to military, political and diplomatic recommendations, which . . . are equally important and reinforce each other . . . It’s a comprehensive strategy designed to deal with the problems in Iraq, but also to deal with other problems in the region. These are interdependent recommendations.
  • And, time's running out:
Events in Iraq could overtake what we recommend. And for that reason, we believe that decisions should be made by our national leaders with some urgency.
  • And a social contract between Americans is recoverable:
We believe that a constructive solution requires that a new political consensus be built, a new consensus here at home . . . We also hope that our report will help bridge the divide in this country on the Iraq war and will at least be a beginning of a consensus here. Because without that consensus in the country, we do not think ultimately you can succeed in Iraq.
I have reservations. You have reservations. But you and I could come together if Bush and Cheney would only eat their fruit salad in total. If they refuse, then they should be made to eat their vanity war before they are excused from the table. Progressives should demand that Bush and Cheney should be excused from the White House by November 2008, or our troops are excused from Iraq by the same date.

In the meantime, I have ordered my copy of The Way Forward - A New Approach. I plan to read it. But more important than that: I plan to carry it around with me as I go shopping, to work, to walk my dog, to wait in the doctor's office. I intend it to become my own personal bumpersticker. Wherever I am, it will say to everyone who notices,
I have a stake in my country's struggles. I am not a consumer. I am not a spectator. I will fight for my country, in the streets if need be.
Because I believe if the 110th Congress cannot secure the return of our troops, the American people must.

12 comments:

  1. Many others have written it but I'll add mine as well, this report might have been helpful a year ago. On one aspect of realigning our troops to train the Iraqi army just getting enough of our guys trained to do the training will take months. This is not counting the time needed to get them just organized here as far as moving the future trainers the sites they will need to go. So if Iraq is down to weeks before being lost we are just too late.
    I'm still trying to "digest" this report but it seems to me that at best these recomendations from the ISG will just end up giving Bush and the repubs a little political cover to withdraw from Iraq allowing the blame to far on the Iraqis. But given Bush's latest speeches I've heard I get the idea that he will not use this report to pull our guys out to save some face.

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  2. Most of any one with a brain knew this war would end in disaster.
    It was predictable before it even started in the run-up of it.

    This report was formulated by James Baker who is the leader of the Carlyle group. This group is a group of corrupt business/political men , who look to all areas to exploit and make money. He is the leader of that special interest group , which is made up of cut-throat economic bandits.
    This fact makes it a foregone conclusion that this report is a scam report , written by special interest groups.

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  3. James A. Baker III is no elder statesman. Baker may have a difficult time suppressing his smug awareness that the Iraq war may be the worst policy disaster in American history.

    But any smugness on Baker's part seems unwarranted. If Bush were not president, there would be no Iraq war. And Bush would not be president if it had not been for Baker. When it seemed that Bush's presidential aspirations were doomed in Florida, Baker — the Bush family consigliere — rode to the rescue, wheeling and dealing. It follows, then, that Baker is in the forefront of those most responsible for the unconscionable debacle in Iraq.

    "Statesman" is not a word I would use for him, no matter how many study groups he chairs.

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  4. Nice post, Vigil! To quote one raspy voiced ex president of yours; I feel your pain.

    As I see the Iraqi situation now, it has slipped through your fingers in a manner that trying to reach and grasp it is like hockey goalie trying to react on a buck that is already in the mesh and the red light is on. It has come to this - the American troops play lesser role than any time during this insanely badly executed war and the following occupation. Your presence in Iraq may slow down the inevitable power struggle in a large scale. Nevertheless, this struggle must take place now or later and some outside distraction, such as the U.S. presence, will really mean nothing in the long run.

    Even in Iraq, there was an opportunity but not a certainty to accomplish something better than this total fiasco. However, when it became clear that inadequet American troops were not able to succeed in their most important duty, establishing the security, the wheels fell off from this dumb buggy. The idiot savant president of yours, with his juvenile bone headed refusal to utter anything sensible but just sticking to his sad "stay the course", nailed the lid shut on this coffin.

    Of course, you can stay and keep hunkering down in safe heavens and still to be killed for no other seeable cause than to save your national pride (what ever the hell it is?) and the idiot savant's feelings. Oddly enough, he seem to have feelings. Too bad, that they are exclusively reserved for his own self.

    Sad thing with wars is that even when they are well planned, one can never know where they will eventually lead. Another hand, when the planning is bad or non existent, as is the case here, result will always be catastrophical. The full extent of this one remains to be seen.

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  5. The best part of Tim Rutten today (Los Angeles Times):

    The diplomat and writer Conor Cruise O'Brien once mused that all international crises could be divided into two categories: There are problems, which have solutions, and there are situations, and they have outcomes. The authors of the Study Group's report implicitly recognize this division and, moving beyond the hyperbolic — and false choices — expressed by disconnected discussions of "victory" and "defeat," starkly note, "There is no guarantee for success in Iraq. The situation in Baghdad and several provinces is dire."

    It is this maturity and sobriety that has made so much of the extreme and ideological reaction to the report seem suddenly callow and beside the point.

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  6. The Iraq Study Group Report can be downloaded FREE OF CHARGE in pdf format here.

    the Wizard.....

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  7. Jonathan Chait:

    And now that the Baker-Hamilton report is out, the commissioners are carefully patronizing the commander in chief . . . .

    Wow, a commission devoted hundreds or thousands of man-hours to addressing the central conundrum of U.S. foreign policy, and the president gave them a whole hour of his time!

    . . . . In return for these considerations, the commission generously avoided revisiting the whole question of who got us into this fiasco and how.

    . . . . The panel appeared to steer away from language that might inflame the Bush administration." Of course, "inflame" is a word typically associated with street mobs or other irrational actors. The fact that the president can be "inflamed" is no longer considered surprising enough to merit comment.

    Indeed, everybody seems to understand that if you want to help amend the disaster in Iraq, the No. 1 rule is that you can't acknowledge it's a disaster in Bush's presence . . . .


    Los Angeles Times

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  8. I am appalled at the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group. There was never any attempt to determine what course of action would best benefit the United States nor to determine what would be in the best interests of Iraq or the Middle East.

    The commission's sole goal was to find a way to provide a roadmap that would allow the president some modicum of face saving.

    That is an outrage.

    The study group basically said that we shall continue sacrificing our children and our treasury just so the president can salve his bruised ego. What a way to establish a foreign policy.

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  9. Right!

    Unapologetic Neocons are upset with the 2nd guessing by the Baker commission report.

    It says, unequivocally, that the war in Iraq is no longer winnable. It says we need to find diplomatic solutions to end the slaughter of men, women and children for a cause that never was. It says Iraq is not central to the war on terror. Most important, and perhaps most annoyingly to Goldberg, it mutes the voices of people like him for whom bloodshed is the mark of manliness and patriotism.

    Instead of denigrating former Secretary of State James A. Baker III and company, Neocons should THANK them for stonewalling this report until AFTER the elections. Think how much more overwhelming the results could have been.

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  10. Darryl is right.

    Niall Ferguson made two points yesterday in the (LA Times):

    (1) In the details of the ISG report is a definite advocacy of staying in Iraq, but doing it right.

    (2) The ISG report is addressed to several audiences, not the least of which are Arab neighbors of Iraq: there is an admonition that the U.S. can leave Iraq as an abyss, but they can't! Iraq will always be on their doorstep!

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  11. Emily, (you know this, I know) this is a major area where the rubber hits the road: Bush and Cheney have been ideologically opposed to working with Syria and Iran, because of their desire to isolate and marginalize both. And why this ideology, against our interests? This goes to my latest post - Making a Clean Break. This handicap on our policy is a direct bi-product of our foreign policy being held hostage by the Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

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