The Iraq Study Group report released yesterday might well be titled "The Realist Manifesto."
From the very first page, in which co-chairmen James A. Baker III and Lee H. Hamilton scold that "our leaders must be candid and forthright with the American people," the bipartisan report is nothing less than a repudiation of the Bush administration's diplomatic and military approach to Iraq and to the whole region.
Throughout its pages, the report reflects the foreign policy establishment's disdain for the "neoconservative" policies long espoused by President Bush and his aides. But while many of its recommendations stem from the "realist" school of foreign policy, it is unclear at this point whether a radically different approach would make much difference nearly four years after the invasion of Iraq.
The administration's effort to spread democracy to Arab lands is not mentioned in the report, except to note briefly that most countries in the region are wary of it. The report urges direct talks with Iran and Syria, both of which the administration has largely shunned. It also calls for placing new emphasis on resolving the Israel-Arab conflict, including pressing Israel to reach a peace deal with Syria, on the grounds that the issue shapes regional attitudes about U.S. involvement in Iraq. Overall, it strongly suggests that Bush, Vice President Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have bungled diplomacy in the region with unrealistic objectives and narrow strategies.
"We took a very pragmatic approach because all of these people up here are pragmatic public officials," Hamilton told reporters, referring to the five Democrats and five Republicans who unanimously endorsed the report's conclusions and recommendations. The bipartisan nature of the report -- and the fact that Baker was secretary of state for Bush's father -- will make it difficult for the White House to ignore. By endorsing the critics' view of the war, the report will also help incoming Democratic congressional leaders frame the debate over Iraq as a disaster largely of the administration's making.
In a lengthy preamble to the recommendations titled "Assessment," the report gives a dispassionate account of the "grave and deteriorating" situation in Iraq, echoing books and news reports that the administration had previously criticized as one-sided or overly negative. The report's description of the violence in Iraq, which amounts to an attack on the administration's understanding of the facts on the ground, will likely set the new baseline for how the Iraq conflict is portrayed.
"The ability of the United States to influence events within Iraq is diminishing," the report warns.
Funny how this assesment seems to jibe with the MSM's. Don't see many conservative bloggers commenting on that. Not that I expected them to. I have some good friends on the Right who must wince when they go back and read their "schools and hospitals are opening every day, and things are getting better," memes. Some have been regular cheerleaders for this war since day one.... It will be interesting to see how long, if EVER, it takes them to recognize that the situation if FUBAR in Iraq, and that the reason for it is gross incompetence on the part of the people who led us into it.
Posted by David A at December 7, 2006 07:23 PM
Filed Under Iraq
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