Friday, December 08, 2006

Grading the ISG Report

The report by the Iraq Study Group made some good points and some terrible recommendations. I’ll start with the good.

The ISG report concluded:

1. A precipitous withdrawal from Iraq could be catastrophic.

2. Partitioning Iraq between Kurd, Shia and Sunni regions would be unwise.

3. The US should not negotiate with Iran over its nuclear weapons program.

4. Syria must abandon hegemonic ambitions over Lebanon.

5. Syria should stem the flood of funding, insurgents and terrorist into Iraq.

6. Iran should stem the flood of arms and training to Iraq.

On all these points the ISG report agrees with the strategy of the Bush administration. (They could have been made by an aware high schooler.)

Then the ISG report draws some conclusions and makes recommendations that are truly reckless. The first one breaks with decades of US foreign policy.

1. It accepts the traditional Saudi and Arabist view that the Middle East's problems are Israel's fault.

There is only one way that the Israel-Palestine conflict is going to be settled, and that is for the Palestinians to be totally and completely defeated. The Palestinians are dedicated to the destruction if Israel, and nothing but complete defeat is going to deter them.

You may remember James Baker's most celebrated soundbite on the Middle East peace process: “F - - - the Jews. They didn't vote for us anyway.”

But if Israel could be forced into giving up the Golan Heights in order to persuade the Syrians and Iranians to ease up on killing American forces in Iraq, our enemies would have learned an important lesson: The best way to weaken Israel is to kill Americans. Bernard Lewis, our greatest Middle Eastern scholar, noted that such a strategy would prove to the world that “America is harmless as an enemy and treacherous as a friend.”

2. The ISG report recommends opening discussions with Iran and Syria on the Iraq problem, thinking that those rogue states would be part of the solution, rather than continuing to be part of the problem.

Asking for help from Iran and Syria would only embolden them. Worse, the ultimate price of our involvement with Iran could be the emergence of Iran as a nuclear power, a nut-job nuclear power run by Islamic militants, in control in the Middle East. And the duly-elected Iraqi government may have its own ideas on whom it wants to sit at the table.

3. It calls for pulling out U.S. combat forces while leaving trainers and support troops behind. That means pulling out the battle-hardened infantrymen and leaving behind the Jessica Lynches. Think that's going to discourage our enemies?

Ralph Peters notes that “Jim Baker longs for the orderly world of Saddam Hussein, the Shah of Iran, the elder Assad and, above all, unchallenged Saudi influence in Washington. Those authoritarian regimes and dictatorships gave us the problems we face today.”

The Baker boys (and Sandra Day) promise us foreign policy realism, but they don’t seem to understand the facts of life. The great Mark Steyn spelled it out for them:

“Like fascism or Communism, Islamism galvanizes millions with its reductionist claims of Western liberal culpability for widely diverse Muslim gripes from Afghanistan to the West Bank. September 11 was no fluke, but the logical culmination of two disastrous prior American policies: appeasement and cynical realism. By not responding to a decade of prior attacks in East Africa, New York, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen, and withdrawing ignominiously from Lebanon to Mogadishu, we gave the fatal impression that a terrorist could strike the United States with near impunity — given our addiction to the good life that we would not endanger at any cost. And by ignoring the abject failures of Middle East autocracies, we inadvertently ensured the second requisite to 9/11: dictatorial regimes that allowed terrorists free rein.

The remedy, then, is to respond forcefully to terrorists and their sponsors, while simultaneously appealing to the people of the Islamic world that the United States is no longer a cynical realist that will play nice with their dictators.”

If we keep working to pacify Baghdad, where almost all the violence in the country is confined, then with the stabilization of Afghanistan, and positive democratic developments in Lebanon and even in Egypt, the Middle East has a chance of broad-based reform not seen in a half century.

“We are still only one lax day away from another September 11, and will continue to be so until the currency and appeal of radical Islamism are history.”

Goh Chok Tong, the former prime minister of Singapore summed it up beautifully:

“The key issue is no longer WMD or even the role of the U.N. The central issue is America's credibility and will to prevail.”

If we give up on Iraq, “America would be revealed to the world as a fraud: a hyper-power that's all hype and no power, or, at any rate, no will.”


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gosh Bill. Looks like the moonbats are swarming! The liberal Clintonistas make me want to GAG!


8:37 PM  
Blogger Bill Lama said...

Hi Rose,
Never fear, I simply delete them. It makes me happy.

8:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Um, no Bill. Deleting posts doesn't make you happy. It reveals that you are incapable of debating people with the facts. While you celebrate comments like Rose's (sycophantic as they are), you delete stuff that's actually interesting and adds to the DEBATE. I have a feeling that by deleting posts, what you are really doing is admitting defeat. You can keep posting, but we'll keep commenting until you actually engage the issues.


7:10 AM  
Blogger fetching jen said...

Bill, keep "deleting" until these guys actually offer something useful and not hateful to the conversation. And isn't it funny how they PROJECT their unwillingness to debate, as if their form of attack is conversation. Ugh.

10:55 AM  
Blogger Bill Lama said...

You must really love my blog, or you have no life. Invective aimed at the blogger just shows your ignorance of the issues. If you have nothing else to do, then continue posting, I'll continue deleting. It's like doing social work.

12:52 PM  

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