Sunday, December 10, 2006

There is No Silver Bullet

The United States Institute of Peace has made The Iraq Study Group Report available for free download or for free reading on-line here.

I was finally able to read the entire report yesterday. It's an easy and relatively quick read. My delay in reading the report was due to outside time constraints and not any problem with the report itself.

But, since I was unable to read the report until yesterday, I was able to absorb the reaction to the report from newspapers, radio talk show hosts, television pundits and bloggers left and right all this past week.

Before I even got to the report I had the following observations based on the wide range of reporting available on the Hamilton/Baker chaired study.

The Left generally loved the report's flaming condemnation of the Bush administration and the multiple failures leading up to and executing the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq. There were more bombs being thrown over in
The Huffington Post in one day than than in the entire city of Bagdad in a month.

Let me go ahead and apologize right now for the above analogy. I couldn't resist, but let me make it clear, when Arianna Huffington, Alec Baldwin or Nora Ephron throw bombs, no one dies.

Still, the left was out in force.

The Right saw the report as a pathway to surrender. A few pointed out good ideas but the Right almost universally rejected whole sections of the recommendations, cherry picking just a few points as worthy of consideration.

President Bush himself indicated some recommendations of the report might not be accepted, but generally was more receptive than the commentators, radio talk show hosts and bloggers on the right.

The Left and much of the mainstream media (which does tend to lean a little left) initially demanded that the report be accepted in totality. Vigilante (who always, very correctly, points out he does not speak for the left, or anyone, except himself) cleanly and clearly and
FORCEFULLY made the point here (editing and emphasis are mine):

The ISG Report is not a 'fruit salad' to be cherry-picked....

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.

However, quickly the left realized, exactly as the right had already concluded, that the report was no silver bullet and had many, many flaws and loopholes. In fact, a sizable portion of the left quickly moved to generally condemn the report as simply more "stay the course."

The best blog entry (essay, for us old timers) comes from Senator Russ Feingold writing over at The Huffington Post in his entry
A Washington Inside Job (editing and emphasis are all mine):

When the Iraq Study Group's report was unveiled this week, it was like the opening of a blockbuster movie, with reporters counting down the minutes until it was released. But now that all the hoopla has subsided, all we are left with is a Washington inside job: a report written by Washington insiders, for Washington insiders, who share the same mindset that led us into the misguided war in Iraq.

The Iraq Study Group essentially sees Iraq the same way that most of official Washington does - as the be-all and end-all of our foreign and national security policy. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The report has some good recommendations, including its call for the U.S. to step up diplomatic efforts with countries like Iran and Syria. But many of its recommendations perpetuate the Iraq-centric policies that have failed so miserably. They fail to correct the course that the American people rejected at the polls in November.

Feingold is right. Which, paradoxically means that President Bush and the commentators on the right are also right. The report is not the whole answer, but may contain a few good tactics.

I wish it had been more. I believe James Baker and Lee Hamilton and the group did their level best. But the occupation of Iraq is a quagmire. The solution will not be found in any 98 page report.




1 comment:

Vigilante said...

Yes, Wizard. As someone has observed the real decider, in probability, is someone who has not yet emerged sifficiently from the madding crowd in Baghdad so that we have learned his name.

Thanks for your read.