Thursday, December 07, 2006

Unless you’ve been living in a cave in Outer Mongolia, you no doubt have heard that the Iraq Study Group released its long-awaited report yesterday. While you can easily find lots of pundits more than willing to explain it to you and tell you what’s right (and wrong) with it, you would be better off reading it yourself and forming your own conclusions. You can read a copy online, or download it to read later, at If you prefer hard copy, will be glad to sell you a bound copy for $6.57, with free shipping.

For what its worth, I think the report is about as worthwhile as such a thing can be. It will certainly fulfill its goal, which is to provide political cover to the Administration to enable it to take the unpleasant actions necessary to salvage something from the ruins of the Iraq war. In large part, though, I believe the recommendations fall into the too-little, too-late category – many of them would have been valuable had they been taken a year ago, or two, or three; now, however, we lack the military, political, and moral standing to make many of them work.

For instance, the recommendation to engage Iran and Syria to solicit their assistance. The Administration has absolutely refused to do this up to now. Mr Baker has noted that we talked with the Soviet Union all the way through the Cold War, and that Iran quietly cooperated with us when we invaded Afghanistan and overthrew the Taliban. But that was then, and this is now – what incentive does Iran now have to cooperate with us to pacify Iraq? Likewise Syria – what can we offer Bashar al-Asad that would induce him to help us out of a tough spot? Both countries are content to see the United States bogged down in Iraq, unable to do anything about their adventures (Iran's nuclear program and Syria's relentless support of Hizballah in Lebanon).

I could go on (at very great length!), but I’d rather you read the report and formed your own opinions – don’t let anyone else (including me) do your thinking for you. I welcome hearing your comments.

Tomorrow, a return to some commentary on the Pope’s comments on Islam and the aftermath of his visit to Turkey.

Have a good day.


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