Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Reflections on the Iraq Study Group report

First impressions ...

A report that is two years too late. These are recommendations that might have had a better chance of being integrated into an overall strategy for success had they been proposed in December 2004 when the U.S. was still in a much stronger position.

Still too U.S.-centric reflecting the belief that the U.S. still has the principal freedom of action and room to maneuver. It reminds me of the scene in the movie Midway when, after hearing about the plan to destroy what is left of the American fleet at Midway, Admiral Nagumo tells Admiral Yamamoto that the plan will bring success if the enemy does everything as expected. So where do we go if Syria and Iran don't want to play ball, the Palestinians don't want to negotiate with Israel (or vice versa), and the Iraqi factions don't shape up? Do we leave? Do we try to "force order"? What happens if no other actor does what we expect them to?

Yes, indeed Anonymous 8:59.

If you guys had not failed in Iraq you would have bombed us several times over by now.
Great questions. I am very bothered by how US Centric this remains. It seems as though the hubris of the administration now is the hubris of the blue ribbon panel: "these are the plans for success, guys."

The scope of "success" has changed, but the tone remains very, very can-do. It doesn't seem like realism to me. Take for example the additional 15,000 advisors. A solid "idea" and something that looks nice on paper (or in .pdf). But, how many troops do we have that know the language, can train, know the cultural norms, etc. etc. You can't expect NCOs and officers trained in war to teach an Iraqi company how to be non-Sectarian.
Cordesman has some useful comments as well in the CSIS site. He is not impressed (putting it mildly).
Well, what do you expect them to do? Tell the Decider that we have lost all initiative in Iraq? Or that Reality is not something entirely of US creation? Can't have that, because that would interfere with the story that our Iraq failure is entirely the fault of Librulz who stabbed Our Troops in the back.*

And for the relentlessly political "Mayberry Machiavellies" who are in charge at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, finding someone else to blame for this debacle is the chief consideration, overriding all others.

I do wonder what Baker thinks of his role in giving power to them.

* Note that Librulz need no governmental power or influence on any decision about the initiation or conduct of the war in order to do this.
Well, the Palestinian PM has said his government will never recognize Israel, so that sort of throws the peace process for a loop ...
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