Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Harry Potter and the Iraq Study Group

The most anticipated book of the season hit stores yesterday -- the Report of the Iraq Study Group. And it's a downer, but with a magical ending. Reading the recommendations, it's as if the seventh installment of the Hogwarts series turned on Harry casting his "Death Eaters See Reason" hex.

Consider me whelmed.

According to the members hitting the chat circuit yesterday, the core recommendations include setting milestones for Iraqi progress toward self-governance, redeploying troops including an increase in the number of American trainers embedded with Iraqi brigades and negotiating with Iran and Syria. Baker et al. made clear their opinion that negotiating with Iran and Syria was essential to the success of the effort.

Which gives the whole thing a monkeys-fly-out-my-butt chance of succeeding. It's true that Iran and Syria have vested interests in a stable Iraq. Unfortunately, it's apparent that both consider it more in their interests to damage the United States. I don't see them helping us when they'd rather see a roiling Iraq that give us a successively more spectacular series of bloody noses.

I have a similarly dim view of the chances that "training" Iraqi forces will do much. The fundamental problem is that the largest and most effective fighting forces on the Shiite and Sunni sides hate us almost as much as they hate each other. And they are embedded within the Iraqi security forces. We're not going to train them to be nice. The best we can do is train them to wage more effective war on each other.

In the end the report is important as a bipartisan declaration that Bush got us into a deep deep hole and we have precious little chance of getting out. As recently as last week we were still hearing from the far right that the media is underreporting "good news" in Iraq and Afghanistan. Perhaps this report has at least a monkeys-fly-out-my-butt of putting the kibosh on that.

Ultimately what I would like to see is a realistic appraisal of our least worst options. The report contains no escape hatch should the recommendations fail. I understand that horrible things will happen no matter what we do. This would have been a good group to analyze the various options and evaluate which does the least damage to the region and to our interests.


Paul said...

Interesting ... I've always considered Dick Cheney to be an Inferius

mencken said...

What galls me is that most folks still think there is a solution to this problem that pleases anyone. Quit kidding yourselves, Iraq belongs in hospice and yet there are still people out there praying, trying herbal medicines, phoning Dr. Weil, rubbing rabbit's feet, and making deals with the Devil. That sad fact is that Dr. Bush performed an ill advised surgery, and on the wrong patient for that matter. The military's chemo and
radiation only exacerbated the patient's suffering.

Right now, even least worst solution sounds overly optimistic.

Anonymous said...

"Ultimately what I would like to see is a realistic appraisal of our least worst options"

Sounds good to me. . .

Cee Jay said...

Good analogy, Mencken. I got a chuckle out of that and from Pho's of Harry Potter making the death eaters see the light.

I don't think there is a good way out for us. The best thing we can do to cut our loses is to get our troops out of there- all of them and as soon as possible. I think the most important question is, How can we get out with least harm to the innocent Iraqis who are in the middle of the mess we have created? The options? To quote Bush, " It's bad"- understatement of the year.
Iran will take control of Iraq when we leave by supporting a puppet Shiite government, the Kurds and Sunnis will resist and there will be genocide. Maybe Iran can be bribed by U.S. and Saudi financial support to give the Kurds some autonomy and let the Sunni Arab nations send peace keepers in to stem the Sunni insurgency.
After all, these nations cooperate pretty well in OPEC, an indication that if there is money to be made by the leaders by keeping the peace they will find a way. Forget Democracy, and don't expect justice for those who resist the puppet government but maybe genocide can be avoided.

matt r. said...

the ISG report is what it is. two interesting viewpoints. the first from ej dionne of the washington post. he points out that a host of the recommendations should have been brought forth in 2002. the second from sen. russ feingold was that the report basically was a product of washington insiders, most of whom supported going in to iraq in the first place.

the "nothing but crappy options" position is the result of a horribly failed policy that this president will never be able to escape. so when we pullout and even more chaos ensues look to for decider in chief to blame. oh and cheney too.

one more thing. can all of the talking heads and journalists ease back on the "bloodbath" references when describing the results of the a u.s withdrawal? at this point the terms sounds real kitschy . iraq is already chaotic and violent. a bloodbath is something that happened to johnny depp in nightmare on elm street.