Last week, the Iraq
Study Group report [.pdf] burst upon a breathless world, and proved to be
an empty piñata. None of its recommendations has the slightest chance
of reversing the course of the war in Iraq. Only those who just got into town
on the last truckload of turnips expected anything more. All Washington "Blue
Ribbon Commissions" are part of the kabuki, intended to fool the rubes
back home into thinking something real is happening, when it isn't.
If the Iraq Study Group report is empty of content, the responses to it from
the war hawks, or more accurately at this point the war vultures, since what
they are feeding on is dead, were as clueless as a Marine at a meeting of Mensa.
They denounced it as impracticable, which is true; as fanciful, in thinking
Iran or Syria has any reason to help us in Iraq, which is also true; and, in
the case of Sen. John McCain, as a recipe for defeat.
Sen. McCain almost got it right. The Iraq Study Group report is not a recipe
for defeat, but an acknowledgment of defeat. Therein lies its value, and its
function. It offers the Bush administration the bipartisan fig leaf it needs
to cover its defeat in Iraq and our inevitable withdrawal.
Like all reports of Blue Ribbon Commissions, the report of the Iraq Study Group
is written so as to cover the backsides of its members. It does not come right
out and say, "We've lost, and its time to get out." The letter from
the co-chairs begins, "There is no magic formula to solve the problems
of Iraq. However, there are actions that can be taken to improve the situation
and protect American interests."
After this obligatory tip of the cap to Pollyanna, however, the report lays
it out as clearly as Washington ever will. The "Assessment of the Current
Situation in Iraq" concludes on page 32,
"Despite a massive effort, stability in Iraq remains elusive and the
situation is deteriorating. The Iraqi government cannot now govern, sustain,
and defend itself without the support of the United States. Iraqis have not
been convinced that they must take responsibility for their own future. …The
ability of the United States to shape outcomes is diminishing. Time is running
Short of concluding with a chorus of "Asleep in the Deep," it would
be hard for the Study Group to make the reality of the situation more evident.
Again, what is key is not the details of the report or the viability of its
recommendations, but the response to it. Had it the slightest understanding
of which end is up, the Bush White House, while politely disagreeing with some
details of the report, would have accepted it as "the only way forward."
The vultures, led by the neocons, would have "sadly concurred." The
Joint Chiefs' strings would have been pulled so they saluted and "got on
board" the last train out of Baghdad.
It might have gone somewhat like this: According to the Friday, Dec. 8 Washington
Yesterday afternoon, less than twenty-four hours after the release of the
Iraq Study Group Report, President George W. Bush, accompanied by Iraq Study
Group Co-Chairmen James A. Baker and Lee Hamilton and the chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff, Marine Gen. Peter Pace, said, "While I do not agree with
every detail of the Study Group's Report, I accept that it represents the only
way forward in Iraq that will have bipartisan support of the Congress and the
American people. I therefore accept its recommendations as a package, as Secretary
Baker has described them, and pledge this administration to their speedy implementation."
"I now call on all members of Congress of both parties to join
the administration and the members of the bipartisan study group to set
aside all divisions and work together. I look forward to having all American
combat troops home from Iraq early in 2008."
President Bush was immediately followed by Mr. Baker, Mr. Hamilton, and
Gen. Pace adding their endorsements to the administration's new course and calling
for an end to partisanship and national division over the war in Iraq.
Instead, as we know, the Bush administration and the vultures have rejected
the fig leaf the Iraq Study Group Report offers. Determined to achieve "victory
in Iraq," they guarantee that America's defeat will be naked before all
One member of the study group, former Democratic Congressman Leon Panetta,
was quoted in the Sunday, Dec. 10 Washington Post as saying, "I
think the feeling was, how do you rescue this administration from the grip of
ideology and force it to face the real world?"
The Bush administration's only desire, unfortunately for the country, is to
escape the grip of reality and immerse itself more deeply in the Jacobin ideology
of neocons. It seems that, absent a miracle, we are doomed to wander in Oz for
two more years.