Carol Platt Liebau: More on the ISG Report

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

More on the ISG Report

Hugh Hewitt has valuable links and information. He's characterizing it as the "Emperor Has No Clothes" report, and that sounds about right to me.

In fact, the report generally is irritating. That's because it seems to reflect a 9/10 mentality: There's no wider struggle against Islamofascism, the answer to everything is to get the Israeli-Palestinian "peace process" on track, let's just talk to Iran and Syria -- and all will be well. It's a bunch of old-time, warmed-over thinking.

It's somehow ironic that James Baker and some of the others responsible for this report are labeled "realists"; in my view, their work reflects some profoundly unrealistic expectations about a number of factors that are key to the entire inquiry.

Take the idea that we should just play nicely with Iran and Syria. How well has that worked out for us in the past? Certainly, one may at times "do business" with adversaries, but in those cases, everyone's incentives must be aligned, e.g. when President Reagan was able to negotiate with Gorbachev. Here, Syria and Iran's interests don't include ensuring American success in Iraq. For the same reasons we want a free, democratic and prosperous Iraq in the middle east, they don't want one.

And don't believe the abject silliness being mouthed by former Senator Alan Simpson (according to the account of a conference call posted at Powerline) -- especially the part about Iran hating chaos in Iraq more than it hates the U.S. Chaos in Iraq is inconvenient, potentially troublesome, but also an opportunity for Iran to turn its old foe into a virtual protectorate; in contrast, hatred of the United States and all it stands for is a foundational, animating conviction of our Islamofascist foes in both Iran and Syria.

What's most remarkable about this entire endeavor is the extent to which it seems to have reflected upon and adapted to post 9/11 realities not at all. Its greatest achievement appears to have been securing the agreement of all its members -- many of whom, while no doubt well-intentioned patriots -- lack the expertise to be passing judgment on such vital strategic and military matters.

Margaret Thatcher once said, "I am not a consensus politician. I am a conviction politician." In the wake of this report, it will be very easy, here in America, to separate the consensus politicians from the conviction ones.


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