Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The ISG: Good, Bad and Ugly

I realize I may be a bit off the reservation from the rest of my compatriots in the liberal blogiverse with the following post, but oh well. I simply refuse to adorn myself in sack cloth and ashes in response to the report of the Iraq Study Group. I see parts that are promising, parts that are frustrating, and parts that don't make any sense. I see this report as good, bad and ugly.

The good part of this report is that this ought to entirely change the debate. It now should sound like absolute silliness to parrot the old talking points. Stay the course is dead. Fight them there so we don't fight them here... even the Presidents recent blathering about not searching for a graceful exit (why the heck not? a bloody, clumsy exit serves us better?.. no exit at all? what a maroon...) now appears to be non operational. This report clearly changes the subject from stay the course vs. redeploy, to a debate on how we can best bring this disaster to conclusion.

The ISG plan itself calls for regional talks with Syria and Iran and this too is positive (or in the context of this post, good) as far as I'm concerned. I think the administrations approach to international foes is being pounded into submission by reality. Diplomacy is not a practice reserved for friends. In fact it is most valued as a means of reaching understanding with those we do not see eye to eye with. It is not a sign of weakness. On the issue of international diplomacy it is clear that Bush the elder got it right and Bush the shrub is sadly and disastrously wrong.

What I find bad about the report is the open ended nature of the continued occupation of Iraq as envisioned by the ISG. They do no give us a plan to bring this to conclusion. This is the cause for most of my compatriots online to wail and gnash their teeth. Yes, it would have been great to have the report simply demand immediate timetables and crack the whip to get the process going. I think what they have attempted to do is veritably split the baby in this regard. They change the debate to start us down the path to withdrawal, but the nitty gritty details are left to future groups. I am well aware that we would welcome those nitty gritty details right now, but let us hope that by changing the debate we are given the means to reach that goal. I'm with the rest of my brethren in Leftyville in wanting this over with asap, but this shortcoming, while dissapointing, doesn't ruin the whole report as far as I'm concerned.

The ugly part to me is this business about having to find a national consensus going forward in Iraq. There actually is remarkable unity on the Iraq question. Those who now support open ended occupation are substantially in the minority. If we are to reach true consensus we must bring the vocal minority of die hards to reason. There is no equality in the debate. The realists have already won. The networks and radio shows do a disservice by pretending there are only two sides, for withdrawal or for stay the course, to the argument now. The sides now should be those who want precipitate withdrawal, and those who want timetables.

A large part of this consensus reaching may be bringing the President to his senses and having him bring the koolaid drinkers with him. This could really get ugly. Acutally, in calling for national unity of purpose in going forward in Iraq, the ISG wants to put lipstick on a very ugly pig. This President is the guy who was saying in the recent campaign that Democrats were pro terrorist. Voting for Democrats mean America loses and terrorists win. That's ugly. I'm afraid that we are going to have to proceed dragging a significant portion of the population, kicking and screaming all the way, consensus or no.

All in all from my perspective, the report would have been alot better with a specified endgame. But we may look back at this day and mark it as the line we crossed. Before the line all debate was whether or not we stayed the course. After the line the debate was trying to find a graceful exit.

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