Friday, December 08, 2006

The devastating truth about the Iraq Study Group

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Much has been written in response to the report and recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, including here at The Reaction. Baker, Hamilton, and the other distinguished ISG commissioners are all over the news media and the political blogosphere. You can find all the latest over at Memeorandum, such as this report by the Post's Dana Milbank. And just wait until Sunday.

The best commentary on the ISG's report I've come across, though, is by Fred Kaplan at Slate -- see here. He calls the ISG's report "an amorphous, equivocal grab bag":

Its outline of a new "diplomatic offensive" is so disjointed that even a willing president would be left puzzled by what precisely to do, and George W. Bush seems far from willing.

Its scheme for a new military strategy contains so many loopholes that a president could cite its language to justify doing anything (or nothing).

To be sure, "[t]he report is at its best, and most devastating, when it details the 'grave and deteriorating' situation in Iraq. 'Current U.S. policy is not working,' it states bluntly." (This amounts to a thorough rebuke of Bush and the warmongers.) But, in the end, all the report tells us is that "[i]t's a mess," that "[n]ot even Jim Baker really knows what to do about it".

In other words, what is truly most devastating about the ISG's report is not just its realistic assessment of the current situation in Iraq, and its trajectory, but its lack of a coherent plan for how best to deal with Iraq.

The devastating truth about the ISG is that it failed to come up with the answer.

And the devastating truth about this disastrous war is that there may not be one.

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