Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The No-Clothes Caucus

Saying Hugh doesn't like the report is understating things a bit:

It totals 96 pages, not counting its introductory letter from Secretary Baker and Congressman Hamilton, the executive summary, and the many appendices, which includes such helpful information as the fact that the ISG talked to 15 senators (not one of whom was elected for the first time since 9/11, creating a generation bias in the interviews, one which appears replicated in the 10 House members interviewed.,) and that of the 21 foreign officials interviewed, only David Abramovich, the Director General of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was consulted from the state most threatened by the Iranian mullahs and Syrian thugs the ISG demands the US appeal to.

Incredibly, the ISG did not consult with anyone from the democratic government of Lebanon, even as the ISG urges us to reach an understanding with Syria.

Of the 43 "former officials and experts" consulted --including Mark Danner of the New York Review of Books, Thomas Friedman, Leslie Gelb, Sandy Berger, Anthony Lake, Ken Pollack, Thomas Ricks, and George Will-- the ISG did not find it necessary to talk with, say, Victor Davis Hanson, Lawrence Wright, Robert Kaplan, Mark Steyn, Michael Ledeen, Reuel Marc Gerecht, or Christopher Hitchens. The ISG did talk with Bill Kristol. I wonder how long that sit down lasted?

The report combines an almost limitless condescension towards the "Iraqi sovereign government," even going so far as to lay out a timetable for its exact legislative program for the next six months, with a cavalier indifference to the Syrian death squads operating in Lebanon, and the certain nature of the Iranian regime --still, on this very day, hosting the anti-Holocaust conference.

Throwing in with Hugh, several other right-minded thinkers and bloggers:

Joining the Emperor Has No Clothes Coalition:

Paul Mirengoff of Powerline

Rick Moran

The editors of

The Asylum

For the most interesting commentary offered here, we have mil-blogger TF Boggs with an interesting under-30 take on the whole thing:

What the group desperately needed was at least one their members to have been in the military and had recent experience in Iraq. The problem with having an entire panel with no one under the age of 67 is that none of them could possibly know what the situation is actually like on the ground in Iraq. Now I concede that it is possible to have a good understanding of things as they stand in Iraq but unless you interact with the people of Iraq and spend a year or years of your life on ground you cannot possibly have a complete picture of the situation.

We cannot appease our enemies and we cannot continue to cut and run when the going gets tough. As it stands in the world right now our enemies view America as a country full of queasy people who are inclined to cut and run when things take a turn for the worse. Just as the Tet Offensive was the victory that led to our failure in Vietnam our victories in Iraq now are leading to our failure in the Middle East. How many more times must we fight to fail? I feel like all of my efforts (30 months of deployment time) and the efforts of all my brothers in arms are all for naught. I thought old people were supposed to be more patient than a 24 year old but apparently I have more patience for our victory to unfold in Iraq than 99.9 percent of Americans. Iraq isn’t fast food-you can’t have what you want and have it now. To completely change a country for the first time in it’s entire history takes time, and when I say time I don’t mean 4 years.

And that's what kills me most about the recycled 30-something year old diplomacy being peddled in some of the ISG recommendations; we've decided that roughly 3,000 KIA is too many in pursuit of something both in the short-term interests of 25 million Iraqis and the long-term interest of most of the Western world and that 3 1/2 years is too much to invest in such an important effort. We're willing to chuck it all down the hole because we're tired.

As to the specific suggestions about engagement with Iran and Syria, I'm left to wonder--still--how people think we'll extract any meaningful or real help without giving away the farm. At the risk of bad-analogy making, you don't invite the fox into the henhouse. Well, if you want to keep any of your chickens that is.

Funniest commentary of the day goes to Jules Crittenden in these remarks about this morning's press-conference:

Hubris and arrogance from the Iraq Study Group, the committee tasked with producing a horse that has given us a camel. Excerpts. Best question so far from the press conference: You guys went to Iraq and didn't even leave the Green Zone. Why should the president listen to you instead of all his other advisors. Another good one, where's the word victory?

So when it's all said and done...what of the report? Answered in a broad and over-generalized sort of way, pitch the thing and develop a strategy that wins the political battles in Iraq while summoning the will to kill the bad guys and bring security to the most violent parts of the country. All easier said than done of course. But you get the idea.

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