December 06, 2006

Iraq Study Group Report

The Iraq Study Group Report is posted here (PDF).

I've only had time to skim through the executive summary up through the assessment thus far, but don't see anything inconsistent with the findings of the report that were leaked previously. Baker & Co. are not offering any radically new ideas. I think an argument can be made that much of what is said in this report is merely the dusting off of the same failed realist diplomacy that helped create a Middle East where extremism was allowed to rise unchallenged.

In many ways, the Baker Commission ignores the lessons of the last five years (or 35, depending on your viewpoint) and advocates plastering over modern problems with outdated applications of policies that have systematically failed over three decades.

Baker and his contemporaries obviously exhuasted their best ideas Presidents ago.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at December 6, 2006 12:07 PM | TrackBack

Your take: The report is "...merely the dusting off of the same failed realist diplomacy that helped create a Middle East where extremism was allowed to rise unchallenged."

This typical defense of the Iraq War/Bush foreign policy on your site is getting old. Not because it is without merit—American foreign policy has failed to combat rising Middle Eastern extremism.

Rather it is on the complete absence of what this "active" approach should be-- and how it differs from the Baker report.

I ask, what is your active program?

Is it invading Iran? Is it putting more troops in Iraq? Is it continuing the impasse on the Middle East peace process, or conceding the United States can't do anything about it?

You leave me wondering.

Your criticism lacks any real substance.

The Middle East was and is a mess. America's involvement in Iraq has made it more so, and has actually fostered more extremism.

If more actions like the Iraq War are the pillars of your roadmap to American security, I must admit I am a bit confused.

But I will leave it to you or other readers to actually enlighten me to your implicit plan for success in the Middle East.

End point—Sweeping generalizations of policy "realist" or "neo-con" miss what actually matters in foreign policy. The real challenge of foreign policy is to tailor approaches that work to given situations.

Anyone can say foreign policy successes have resulted from “realism” or “anti-realism”—they are nebulous terms one can define at will. What fewer people can say is, ‘How do we go forward with real policies, not cheap rhetoric?’

You have failed that test today.

Posted by: Keith at December 6, 2006 04:12 PM

Iraq has not fostered more extremism. Just because 9 out of 10 jihadis say Iraq is their number one greivance, it doesn't mean they wouldn't have strapped on the bomb vest without it. When cartoons from Denmark cause people to kill, I get the feeling Iraq is just an excuse.

Posted by: BohicaTwentyTwo at December 6, 2006 05:17 PM

How many Iraqi's did Baker kill in 91-92? Thousands, hundreds of thousands? Did he aid the dimmi's in the slaughter of millions in the 70's in Southeast Asia? Killing must get easier after you kill few million. Add the blood of 50 million babies and they make Hitler look like a boy scout.

Now you can add the blood of ten more Americans to his and the dimmi's hands. The terrorists are holding up their end of the cut and run for the dimmi's. You crawl, they kill, and the dimmi's crawl more, they kill more. This seems to be a never ending process for terrorists and they're dimmi friends. Hey they won an election by getting over 2,000 American soldiers killed in Iraq so they're trying for a hundred thousand and two elections.

Posted by: Scrapiron at December 6, 2006 05:36 PM

"The Middle East was and is a mess. America's involvement in Iraq has made it more so, and has actually fostered more extremism."

This is simply not supportable. It's directly from the playbook, so I have seen it before (repeatedly), but the suggestion that involvement in Iraq fostered MORE simply a canard. Extremism existed in greater frequency against American interests, people and possessions PRIOR to the war on Iraq...not after.

Iran and Al Qaeda have sent wave after wave of fanatical Islamic cultists into Iraq to disrupt peace and prosperity from taking a hold there...but there is not MORE "extremism" there is only a more CONCENTRATED extremism. We are fighting them over there...and we ever could get the rules of engagement to allow us to unleash an ass kicking of them, instead of making us sit in a defensive posture...they would get the lesson they sorely deserve. (that is, unlike the Michael Moore version of the left, you believe WE deserve the ass kicking)

"The real challenge of foreign policy is to tailor approaches that work to given situations."

Absolutely, I agree. Let's take the handcuffs off the protectors and start putting them on the perps.

Invade Iran? Not necessary...let's kill the bastards as they cross the border into Iraq and let the Iraqi's capture the weapons Iran is sending in and use them to kill their insurgents.

Let's call Syria and Iran exactly what they are. Agent provocateurs intentionally attempting to infiltrate and disrupt a growing democracy and a peace process. Stand up to them.

Intentionally engaging a liar in dialogue is an invitation to being told what you want to hear, so that both sides can pretend to believe it. Then again, this is what the media does when it speaks with leftist politicians, (and Jimmy Carter and the Baker's Dozen) so at least they are practiced at it.

No sense sending in amateur appeasers, enablers and dissemblers. Send in the pros.
I mean, why send it

Posted by: cfbleachers at December 6, 2006 06:13 PM

Confederate Yankee, don't let Keith's comments bother you. Your reactions to the worthless Baker-Hamilton Commission Report are on target.

Posted by: Phil Byler at December 6, 2006 08:50 PM

I appreciate the responses back to my comment, and to Phil Byler: I don't think my babbling is bothering Confederate Yankee at all.

So it seems that all the commentators attack one point of my argument mainly: that going into Iraq has fostered my terrorism not less.

While I agree terrorism was dangerous before going into Iraq and before 9-11, I am at a loss at understanding how going after the Iraqi regime in a poor fashion (Bush's poor war plan and false expectations lost the war, not the casualties) helped our cause.

Now maybe it has: diverting all that Anti-Americanism to Iraq. But our failing in Iraq--again owing to false expectations and poor planning by Bush--has led to a strategic folly: giving terrorists a new tool to recruit towards and a new victory to point to.

But I doubt any of you will really even consider this point deeply, let alone agree.

The main point stands: none of you offered a workable plan forward. Cfbleachers says we should take out the Iranian operatives that are crossing the border. I completely agree. But one question: where are the American troops needed to secure the border? Last time I looked we were having a hard enough time just defending Baghdad. Again, this aim of yours--while I agree with--does not seem feasible with current force levels, or even any reasonable increase in force levels.

Second calling out Syria. What exactly does that get us? Syria and Iran have more influence in Iraq than we do. What does "stand up" mean? Send in troops and invade? Well, again: where are these troops? And do you really want to occupy another country.

I agree that both Syria and Iran are purposively trying to keep Iraq a mess. But doesn't this make sense--meaning shouldn't have U.S. officials predicted this--when we signaled them out for regime change? So why did the U.S. go in with a war plan not failed to take into account this contingency? Or a plan that would even wipe al-Sadr—remember commanders on the ground decided to forgo urban warfare that would have enforced our (I mean the provisional Iraqi government’s) warrant on his head.

What does it say when the American military can’t beat—who was then—a second-rate Islamic military leader? Clearly it says that we didn’t go in with the right plan.

All your comments seem to suggest that we needed more troops, more force and a better plan for post-Saddam Iraq.

We, meaning George W. Bush and his advisors, did not have this plan. And guess what? They still don't.

This gets to the heart of my frustration--bothersome to you or not--none of your plans, regardless of them being "right" or "wrong" give any reflection to what America's current force projection is in the Middle East.

And, as Iraq has shown, going into a project without full preparations may lead to dangerous failure. And failure can bring about worse effects than status-quo.

Ridiculous counter-case: Let's say instead of invading Iraq America put all its diplomatic and hard force into hunting down terrorists and shutting down financial flows. This could have included strikes in Iranian territory and Syrian territory. Heck, what if we accommodated with Saddam on the condition he ceased funding and started cracking down on fundamentalist terrorists—or else we take away his oil profits and trade avenues. Wouldn’t of this, at the very least, kept Islamic terrorists out of Iraq?

Whether or not you believe there are more or less terrorists in the world today, Iraq was not a hotbed of Islamic terrorism until after the fall of Saddam. (This is not to mitigate the particular form of terrorism that country felt in anyway.)

Posted by: Keith at December 7, 2006 01:24 AM

"Iraq was not a hotbed of terrorism before we invaded"

THats true.

When the terrorists have absolute power over a country, its unusual for there to be alot of carbombings.

Posted by: TMF at December 7, 2006 08:02 AM


Good discussion, but lot's of empty rhetoric. Remember that we did take down the regime - in 3 weeks. Remember that there is a fledgling democracy in place - even if they haven't figured out how to live together and make it work yet. So those strategic goals did work.

The post-war planning was pretty poor, but also remember that the tactical situation changed rapidly. It's really easy to sit back now and say we should have expected "all" contingencies. But in the real world, it doesn't work like that. And that's the problem with your argument. It isn't based in on-the-ground, at the front, adaptation to the new tactics coming from the enemy. It simply says, "We should have....". That isn't a plan for adaptation - that is simply finger pointing. But - hey - that's what the left is good at, right?

Why don't we say, "Hey - when Clinton bombed the Iraqis in Operation Desert Fox in 1988, after he had signed the Iraq Liberation Law, that he caused an upsurge in terrorism - and that is what we are facing today." It's true you know. But - that doesn't solve the problem does it?

When you say we "lost" in Iraq, what do you mean? Are you talking about the new businesses that have opened, the fact that the Iraqi's now control almost 75% of the country, the new schools, higher standard of living, new democratically elected government, resurging oil production, growth in their economy, jobs, not under the threat of a murderous dictator, etc., or what? Oh - wait I know - there is an insurgency. Wow. And in a country of 21 million people, how many insurgents are there? Maybe at worst 10,000? Wow. Almost five-hundredths of 1%. Wow. Obviously a civil war, right?

See - you only want to talk about the things that have gone wrong. You don't want to acknowledge that more things have gone right than wrong. Has the plan succeeded? Not yet. Obviously the strategic goals are still the same (regime change and then stable Iraq), but the tactics have needed constant adaptation to changing circumstances. But still - progress is happening and all the ISG did was to say "train the Iraqis" - which we were already doing - and "use diplomacy" (and that with people who chant "Death to America."

My position is simple. Until somebody from the left acknowledges that there has been progress made, their arguments are intellectually dishonest and therefore below most consideration. People on the right have admitted mistakes were made. But that is all the Lefties can say. Are you any different?

Posted by: Specter at December 7, 2006 08:44 AM

Since this seems to be a reasonable discussion, I will attempt to work through the reasoning...with some trepidation that we may simply fall back eventually into explaining why the playbook is wrong and all the songs in the hymnal are off tune...but, hope springs eternal.

"While I agree terrorism was dangerous before going into Iraq and before 9-11"

Excellent launching off point...without agreement on this point, there is usually no point in going forward. But we have to add a couple of components.

Not only was terrorism ON THE RISE prior to 9-11, it was getting BOLDER. The failure to CONFRONT it...head hunt down and disrupt cash flow, destroy the head of the snake and to intercept any organized, meaningful, powerful (in action AND resolve) way...was swelling the terrorists with a false sense of security. Oslimy Been Lousy had even said, "The Americans don't have the courage to withstand a bloody nose. They will not complete the task, they will retreat, cower and tremble after we hit them once". When you are dealing with fanatics, the MOST important thing you have to do to them, is take away their will to fight, and make them believe you will never give up, that you will not back down, that you will continue to stand up to them.

When your OWN people, your OWN information stream, your OWN legislators...attack you from inside...your OWN side turns on you...calls YOU evil, says you DESERVE to be attacked, calls them "minutemen" and romaticizes them, propagandizes their efforts and demonizes EMBOLDENS THEM to keep fighting. They have been taught that we are weak, lack courage and those lies being told by the Ministry of Media, the prostitution of principles in favor of party politics by leftist Democrats in order to win office...combined to create the most effective recruiting poster for Islamofascists that could have ever existed.

It said to them "We are winning, and we are morally right...even the AMERICANS agree. They are wimps and they are defeated, come join us in finishing them off. Read their papers, listen to their news, they call themselves evil and we are great".

If you truly want to know the reason that more and more Islamofascists are willing to join the fight against us...leftists need to look no further than the nearest mirror.

"I am at a loss at understanding how going after the Iraqi regime in a poor fashion (Bush's poor war plan and false expectations lost the war, not the casualties) helped our cause."

It's really very simple. The Islamofascists have been attacking us, for virtually NO reason whatsoever, for decades. (we refuse to turn our backs on Israel, they want to drive her into the sea and commit don't consider this a legitimate reason. Jimmy Carter, Baker, Mel Gibson, Michael Moore and the Kos Kidz aside, most SANE Americans agree with me)

When they became SO emboldened after our half-hearted and disorganized attempts to lob missiles into the desert in the 90's when they were bombing ships, embassies, and World Trade Center attack I, etc.....they hijacked planes and flew them into our buildings. We got serious. And we got pissed. Good.

Al Qaeda had set up camp and was state sponsored by the Taliban. This...nobody...not even an imbecile leftist like Moore or Noman Chumpsky can argue. We gave the Taliban the ABSOLUTELY CORRECT response. Give them up. They refused. We went after them and rooted them out. Got them on the run.

Here's where leftists stopped thinking. (if ever, there were MANY who said that AFGHANISTAN was a "mistake", a "new Viet Nam", a "QUAGMIRE", ETC). We couldn't get those cowards to even agree that going after Al Qaeda and their state sponsored goons in the Taliban was a legitimate and worthwhile exercise of national defense. These traitors were ALREADY turning on us.

But we did the right thing...and we got the terrorists on the run.

Now, what is Phase II of KEEPING them on the run? We have to keep them from landing in a place where they can have STATE sponsored protection. Where were they MOST likely to come together and set up another nest of evil.

Pakistan's government was on OUR side. Iran and Syria had been effectively neutralized by our anger and resolve. NONE of those, would allow the terrorists to set up camp.

WHO had offered to sell them weapons? Who had CLINTON, ALBRIGHT, COHEN, BERGER said was the most evil dictator on the planet, intended to use WMD's against us and had influenced them to SIGN INTO LAW...the act announcing our plans for regime change? Saddam.

He had harbored terrorists for decades. Iraq was a safe haven for them. An offshoot of Al Qaeda was already operational in the north. Clinton, Albright, Cohen, Berger had all said the greatest threat of Iraq is that they would SELL WMD's to terrorists, to export terrorism around the globe against Western interests and Israel.

We did not know how many he had left. CLINTON said this. We gave him a chance to come clean. SEVERAL chances. He refused. Based upon his ADMISSION that he INTENDED to use them against American and Israel, AND on the fact that the terrorists were looking for ANY state sponsored protection...we simply could not afford to wait to see what would happen AFTER they got together.

Clinton, Albright, Cohen, Berger ALL said that Saddam linking up with terrorists was the most dangerous prospect the world had to history.

Leftists will scoff now at us not finding ENOUGH of the WMD'S, because they "knew" (with their Magic 8 balls apparently), that it was a "lie" of GEORGE W. BUSH, that they "existed" at all.

Their lemmings parrot this mendacious, vicious, and despicable propaganda. Clinton, Albright, Cohen, Berger all said THEY believed he had them, wanted more, wanted NUCLEAR weapons and wanted to use them against us.

The cocktail of necessity would have made the terrorists and Saddam immediate bedfellows. I've heard the arguments that Oslimy didn't like Saddam. But don't think for one minute that he wouldn't have used him...and vice versa.

We had to do two things. Keep the terrorists from becoming state sponsored again...AND keep WMD's out of their hands.

Even still...we gave first the Taliban, then Saddam EVERY opportunity to come clean. To avoid their own demise. They refused.

We then took them out militarily. Who misses them? Certainly not the people who were brutalized and tortured under them. No great loss.

The terrorists were now on the run. Being disrupted. Unable to set up camp. It was all set up to be successful. Then...our leftists sprang into action.

With efficiency that would have made Goebbels proud...they began the constant drumbeat of "America is evil, Islam is great". They ridiculed, they spat on our flag, they pissed down their bile on our heads each and every day. They attacked Israel and won support for Hamas and Hizbollah. They attacked President Bush, Vice President Cheney and Rumsfeld every day, in every way.

They posted phony photos, they used fake sources, they lied, cheated, stole, raped, pillaged and plundered America's interests. And emboldened the Islamofascists and weakened America's resolve.

This recruited and emboldened more fanatics to the Islamofascists and they attacked Iraq on a daily basis...while our leftists kept up the litany of their successes and BURIED any successes we were having.

The "news" became a propaganda tool against America and in favor of the terrorists.

We didn't need more troops or less troops, we needed to have more patriots and less traitors in our own information stream.

I do not expect leftists to agree with a single point here. But every word of this is factual and based on events that have taken place. We have been weakened, not by the acts of terrorists who have sniped at our soldiers...but by the lies and propaganda of our own media and leftist politicians and their despicable followers who I am ashamed to call my countrymen.

Posted by: cfbleachers at December 7, 2006 09:18 AM

"We, meaning George W. Bush and his advisors"

Because, heaven forbid "we" might mean...America and Americans...

"did not have this plan. And guess what? They still don't."

This, of a crock. Of course they had a plan. The plan was to unseat the brutal dictator, keep the terrorists on the run, establish a seat of democracy in Iraq.

They didn't anticipate the psy-ops efficiency of our own turncoats in the media being as effective as it has been. They did not anticipate that our own media would bring down world opinion on the side of people who want to commit genocide. Where they fell down, was in anticipating the level of effectiveness of the traitors and turncoats. Or just how committed the left was to weakening American resolve.

"This gets to the heart of my frustration--bothersome to you or not--none of your plans, regardless of them being "right" or "wrong" give any reflection to what America's current force projection is in the Middle East."

We don't need MORE forces...we need two things. Different rules of engagement, and to overcome the psy-ops battle we are losing with the traitors on the left...especially in their Ministry of Media. We need to get truth and facts out...where this administration has failed...wholly, completely and in defining the goals and communicating the message.

They have allowed themselves and be defined by traitors. THIS is why the terrorists "message" and that of our own almost a perfect overlay of each other. The traitors and the terrorists have the same message, because they have the same goal.

George W. Bush isn't "stupid", like the puerile left insists, he's actually brighter than 90% of his critics on that side (and brighter than the two dimwits Gore and Kerry who were chosen to run against him), but he is a HORRIBLE communicator.

We didn't lose this war to their (the terrorists) Rommel, a brilliant field general...but, if it will be lost, it will be lost to their Goebbels and our Benedict Arnolds.

We now need to adjust to the fact that the leftists have emboldened not just more terrorists and fanatics, but also Iran, Syria and those who mean to overthrow the countries we have already "toned down", Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lybia, Jordan.

The leftists and their propaganda arm, the Ministry of Media have created a Middle East that is now capable of exploding. They have successfully moved world opinion from the side of right, truth and the side of lies, evil and a whole new bag of horrors. Congratulations to them. You have to give kudos and a tip of the hat to them, they have won the battle for hearts and minds and world opinion.

If this administration was in the failure to stand up to a pernicious, treachorous, black-hearted, lying, despicable media and the Socialist/World Populist imbeciles who follow them.

"And, as Iraq has shown, going into a project without full preparations may lead to dangerous failure. And failure can bring about worse effects than status-quo."

Worse effects? The terrorists are on the run, disrupted and have not successfully launched a SINGLE campaign against American interests on our soil since 9-11. I realize that the traitors who root for the enemy find this to be "worse than the status quo ante", but does any THINKING person agree?

We've lost less servicemen in Iraq than Americans who were murdered by Islamofascists PRIOR to 9-11. We are fighting them over THERE. We have them on the run. They are no longer state sponsored. Saddam can't build more WMD's, or get nuclear weapons. How is this WORSE, again?

The ONLY thing that is "worse" is the PICTURE being painted...of Iraq, of America, and of our intentions. To make the insurgents less bold, to make it not so much fun to take on the US, we should change the rules of engagement and kick some ass. AND, we should take on the lying leftists and their despicable Ministry of Media.

Posted by: cfbleachers at December 7, 2006 10:11 AM