Thursday, December 07, 2006

Iraq Study Group submits its report

The following is sneak peek from my weekly contribution to the Patriot Post Friday Digest. This week's edition will be live Friday at 1:00pm EST. Read more here.

The Iraq Study Group submitted its report to an eager Washington press corps this week. Policy makers, reporters, and private citizens feverishly flipped through the 96-page document which is sure to sail to the top of Amazon's bestseller list. And what they found was…well, nothing we didn't already know, sprinkled with a dash of policy suggestions that we shouldn't follow.

It was foolish to think that the ISG report would offer a magical solution to the problems that we are facing in Iraq. Stabilizing the Iraqi government, defeating the insurgency, and reducing America's military commitment are monumentally complex tasks for which there is no easy answer. However, the report accomplished little more than reiterating the proposed solutions that have been floated for months from across the political spectrum—reduce the number of troops, speed up embedding American troops into Iraqi units, engage in region-wide diplomacy, and, of course, get more involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Unfortunately, these proposals (there are 79 in total ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous) are off-base, and likely to lead to greater problems if they are heeded word for word.

For starters, military commanders in Iraq and the Pentagon know for a fact that more, not less, troops are the key to stemming violence in Iraq. Every time there has been a drawdown of American forces in an Iraqi region, an upsurge in violence has followed. Second, we are currently embedding troops in the Iraqi command structure, but training an Iraqi army is a process made slow by factional riffs, corruption, and terrorist infiltration. Only our commanders in Iraq know at what speed this process should reasonably take place. And even James Baker, co-chairman of the ISG, doesn't think that involving Iran and Syria in a wider diplomatic solution is feasible. These two countries, which are behind the insurgency, have no reason to talk to the United States. What are we going to offer them? Should w let Iran have its nuclear bomb? It is proceeding forward with it anyway. Are we going to give Lebanon to the Syrians? They are already in the process of reclaiming it through Hezbollah.

Despite this insanity, liberals are touting the report as gospel, probably because much like their own approach to the Iraqi issue, it says what people want to hear, with little thought to how the goals we all want are to be accomplished. President Bush probably summed up the true nature of the report best when he called it "interesting." He never exhibited any hope that the ISG would give him a roadmap to achieve success in Iraq, and his somewhat muted response to the final product demonstrates that. The ISG report might be a good read, but it is only one more item in the far-ranging dialogue over the Iraqi question. It should not be considered anything more than that.

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