The unbearable shallowness of the Iraq Study Group.what a moran.
For the second time since 9/11, Americans have been treated to the undemocratic phenomenon of private citizens assuming the responsibilities and prerogatives of elected officials. First we had the 9/11 Commission. Not content to present its findings and recommendations to the president and Congress, the commission went on a nationwide lobbying campaign to persuade America, and pressure its representatives, into accepting its "advice." Now we have the Baker-Hamilton Commission, officially known as the Iraq Study Group, self-consciously following in its predecessor's footsteps.
"You've probably seen the news reports that the 'Iraqi president' has denounced the Baker-Hamilton ISG report. And this fact is being played in many new reports to suggest that even a key member of the Iraqi government thinks the report contains disastrous proposals. But that impression is highly misleading if you don't know who Jalal Talabani, Iraq's nominal president really is.
Talabani is the head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, one of the two dominant political 'parties' in Iraqi Kurdistan, the other being the rival Kurdistan Democratic Party. I put 'parties' in quotes not to signal derision but because they are not parties in the ordinary sense of the word but something more like para-states with their own highly trained and able militias.
The relevant point is that the Kurds -- very understandably -- have never been happy in Iraq. The Kurds played a key role in getting us to invade Iraq in 2003 and their militias coordinated with coalition forces in the North. They need us there to maintain their de facto independence within Iraq or allow them time to consolidate it. The whole tangled story of our ties to the Kurds is immensely complicated, historically and morally. But suffice it to say that it is no surprise that Kurdish political leaders won't like ISG report. And in this case, that's what Talabani is, a key Kurdish political leader. The fact that he is the nominal 'president' of Iraq is an artifact of the collapsing efforts at a government of national unity."
"Michael Abramowitz and Glenn Kessler write in The Washington Post: "Comments from the hawkish right . . . have often been an accurate gauge of the beliefs of key figures inside the Bush administration, especially Vice President Cheney."
And what are the hawks saying?
John M. Broder and Robin Toner write in the New York Times that the hawks are saying the Baker-Hamilton report "was a wasted effort that advocated a shameful American retreat.""
"Gloria Borger writes in U.S. News about the Baker-Hamilton commission's interview with the president and his national security team.
"At one point, Vernon Jordan, a skilled Washington insider, put it pretty bluntly to the president, according to a panel member's paraphrase:
"Jordan: What do you mean by victory? When my mama told me to clean the garage, I cleaned the garage because I knew what she meant. But I don't understand what you mean.
"Bush: You have to speak to the American people with a simple message here. They understand what victory is, and if you come off of it, they'll think you're giving up.
"Some members say they were stunned by the response. And when they left, they were puzzled by one more thing: During their entire session, Vice President Dick Cheney--a key architect of the war in Iraq--never said a word. Not one.""