For better or worse, they are here to stay for the immediate future and no doubt "implement the recommendations of the Iraq Survey Group" are going to be the Democrat and media mantra from this point forward. And, as I alluded to in my last post, most of the American political establishment is going to cave and a lot of people are going to die as a result.
So far, the GOP spin appears to be that the ISG calls for doing "more of the same." That is factually untrue, to put it candidly, and I expect that many of the people so eager to say that are either doing so from ignorance or as a desire to spin this debacle in the favor of the White House. While I applaud the effort, I would much prefer that one expose this idiocy for the fraud that it is. The fact that they went considerably beyond their mandate to try and resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in favor of the latter goes to show what a transparent foreign policy power grab the report was. We could solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict tomorrow and it wouldn't make a dime's worth of difference for the violence now occurring in Anbar or Baghdad. Then there is the inherent contradiction between using special ops to fight al-Qaeda in Iraq (where they are far more numerous) and using conventional forces from Iraq to fight al-Qaeda in Afghanistan (where are far less so unless Baker plans on using them to invade Pakistan). These and other apparent contradictions within the report help to answer the question of why Sandra Day O'Connor was included: they needed someone skilled at writing BS to serve as the primary author.
Victor very astutely notes the following:
Rod Dreher wrote the following at Beliefnet yesterday (before the ellipse, Rod is quoting someone else):We separationists affirm the following:
1. Islam is a mortal threat to our civilization.
2. But we cannot destroy Islam.
3. Nor can we democratize Islam.
4. Nor can we assimilate Islam.
5. Therefore the only way to make ourselves safe from Islam is to separate ourselves from Islam.
Hmm. I believe 1, 2, 3 and 4, with caveats. ... But I can't affirm No. 5, though I freely admit that I don't know whether the premises don't support the conclusion, or whether it's because I don't want it to be true. Which, if it's the latter, is pathetic.
As I told him in the Combox ... 5 does follow, if 1-4 are true (and I affirm them all, as he does). The Iraq war was, among other things, an attempt to rebut 3. But really important things like bringing down Chimpy McHallibush have taken that off the table for the foreseeable future.
I once told Rod that in the long run, we really only have three options; turning the Middle East into a glass pancake; accepting September 11th's as annual events; or re-forming the political culture of Islam, which the war was (supposed to be) one step among many. And so we had to fight the Iraq war because only the last was morally acceptable and the process had to start, under our suzerainty, if need me (I acknowledge I didn't think of deporting all Muslims and cutting the Middle East off from Christendom). Our Iraq defeat means we've now acknowledged that we can't change them by force -- for a variety of reasons, of which their own recondite culture is just one among several.
I think that at this point the kind of situation that Tony Blankley describes in The West's Last Chance is far more likely than the bright future described by Richard Perle and David Frum in An End to Evil. And while this argument isn't likely to be terribly popular, I think that blaming the now-impending defeat of the US in Iraq solely on Arab/Muslim inability to handle democracy lets entirely too many people on this side of the Atlantic off the hook.
Cliff May described the mentality of the foreign policy experts who made up the ISG's advisors in the following terms:
The Foreign Policy Establishment types who dominate the Iraq Study Group had opposed the war from the start and, in my view, mostly wanted to send Bush this message: “Idiot! We told you so!”
They were unconvinced by the case that I and a few others were making: That if the U.S. mission in Iraq sinks, it won’t just be Captain Bush and his neo-con crew that will drown. America will have a lost a key battle in a serious global conflict.
I think the following quote from one unnamed commission member who was a source for the NYT story today, confirms what I’ve said above: “We had to move the national debate from whether to stay the course to how do we start down the path out.”
Michael Rubin described a similar mentality here;
Baker and Hamilton gerrymandered these advisory panels to ratify predetermined recommendations. While bipartisan, the groups are anything but representative of the policy debate. I personally withdrew from an expert working group after concluding that I was meant to contribute token diversity rather than my substantive views.
Many appointees appeared to be selected less for expertise than for their hostility to President Bush's war on terrorism and emphasis on democracy. Raad Alkadiri, for example, has repeatedly defined U.S. motivation for Iraq's liberation as a grab for oil. Raymond Close, listed on the Iraq Study Group's website as a "freelance analyst," is actually a member of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, which, in July 2003, called for Vice President Dick Cheney's resignation for an alleged conspiracy to distort intelligence, which they said had been uncovered by none other than Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV. The following summer, Close posited that "Bush and the neocons" had fabricated the charge "that the evil Iranian mullahs inspired and instigated the radical Shia Islamist insurgency." To Close, the problem was not Iranian training and supply of money and sophisticated explosives to terrorists, but rather neoconservatism.
It is precisely because of events like this that have dominated the last several years that I find it exceedingly hard to blame Islam, the Iraqi government, or even the brutal nature of our enemies for the current situation. Like I said, such claims let entirely too many people off the hook.
The good news is that our enemies have a tendency to overreach and al-Qaeda is every bit as eager to get caught up in its own triumphalism as any other revolutionary movement in history. Their apparent consolidation of a de facto Islamist bloc in Sudan, Somalia, and now Chad, their creation of a united African command, carving up most of the Pakistani tribal areas, and now the likely establishment of an Islamist theocracy in the Sunni regions of Iraq has to strike them as looking pretty good right now, especially given that most of these gains have taken place in the last year. Sure, they appear to have lost Chechnya, but Anbar's nice enough compensation prize. When one compares this to the successes enjoyed by their allies Syria (now moving closer and closer to reversing the Cedar Revolution), Iran (stalled nuclear issue, using its proxy al-Sadr to paralyze the Iraqi government), and Hezbollah (a de facto victor over Israel due, again, to international pressure), I think that it is no exaggeration to regard everything that has happened over the last 5 years as the opening prelude to a long and very bloody war. 2006 has been an exceedingly bad year for us, and if any Democrat actually gave a damn about the war on terrorism they might raise these issues, but they're too busy trying to figure out a way for us to surrender. If Victor likes, maybe we can start a pool on how long until Pakistan falls to al-Qaeda and Iran gets the bomb. Because right now, both strike me as only being a matter of time.
The real hell to pay though is in what this does to the image of the US and the West, and what this means for the clash of civilizations. As Osama bin Laden has said, people naturally gravitate toward the strong horse. By pulling out of Iraq, we'll have confirmed his diagnosis from the Black Hawk Down fight in Somalia, that the US is a paper tiger, and that Islam's jihadists (of whatever particular variety -- and I'm aware there are many, some of whom can't stand each other) can even defeat the mightiest armies of the great superpower, Insha'allah. He has shown that the polytheist infidels are weak and decadent, and need only to be pushed and fall over before they crack.
I agree, which is why I think they'll overreach. Al-Qaeda has never seen much of an understanding for US, just look at their description of the Washington Times in Mohammed al-Hakaymah's Myth of Delusion (the full text is available here). I think at least part of this lies in the fact that their top advisor on US affairs, Sheikh Haw Haw (Adam Gadahn) spent most of his life trying to escape American culture and as such doesn't have a damned clue on how we think as a result.
Bush, as I quoted John J. Reilly on several occasions, wanted to have Winston Churchill's foreign policy and Calvin Coolidge's domestic policy. He also wanted to do it with probably the most incompetent political management (in the sense of maintaining public support for the war rather than elections in general) that I have ever encountered. As a result, we may well get a real Churchill in 2008 (and no, even I'm not that much of a McCain fan to make that comparison, though his stance on the ISG report was spot-on) but until then we are in for two very long and bloody years that are likely to result in a lot of dead people so that the chattering classes can continue to (falsely) feel morally superior to the evil Bushitleretardespotheocrat. Hope they're happy when we lose a city or two and maybe we'll do better next time as we're digging through the rubble.