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We're probably not going to get the Baker Report for a while. However, that's no reason not to take a peek at the working papers being used by the think tank that's feeding the Baker Commission its information.

Alan Schwartz's "Scenarios for the Insurgency in Iraq" is done for United States Institute of Peace, which happens to be the institution backing up the Iraq Study Group.

...The commission is headed by former Secretary of State James A. Baker, III, a close friend of the Bush family, and former Indiana Democratic Congressman Lee Hamilton, who also cochaired the 9/11 Commission, and is being coordinated through the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), a government-funded think tank.  

Saddle up. Lock and load. :)

Real Quick: What You're Gonna Read

  1. What the Iraq Study Group's Doing - Talking with hundreds and hundreds of People Who Matter, namely American decisionmaking elites and, in my opinion, more focused on manufacturing consensus to do what comes naturally to American decisionmaking elites, namely damage control vis a vis Iraq and save as much face as possible while doing so.
  1. What the Pentagon's Doing - In my opinion, a parallel of the civilian process above: distancing themselves from accountability for a badly-chosen mission. Being, officially, but an instrument of public policy, the top brass have more branch to hold the weight of their BS. That, and this is something the military's been through before; they're not about to take the blame for Iraq going pear-shaped.
  1. What Iraq's Neighbors are Doing - Positioning themselves as friends of Iraq, mostly. All told, Turkey, Iran and Syria appear to be going out of their way to establish strong, cordial and mutually-advantageous bilateral relations with the Iraqi central government. All three appear supportive of their being an Iraqi central government. The Turks in particular are most insistent on this point.
  1. First Scenario: The Long Slog to Overcome Ethnic and Sectarian Politics - Basically, it's Stay the Course made to work. (It's very optimistic.)
  1. Second: Ethnic-Sectarian Politics Derail the Political Process - Reads like reality.
  1. Third: Descent into Hell - In parts, counter-intuitive. The militias gain strategically and de facto political power. Iran backs a Sistani successor, supports the rise of a "Shiastan" in the south. Turkey, which despite grumblings enjoys brisk trade with the Iraqi Kurds, attains assurances to its liking and sponsors a virtually-sovereign Kurdistan. The Jordanians and Sauds weigh in as protectors of the beleagured Sunni Iraqis. This could happen peaceably enough; the official scenario predicts a meltdown, specifically, Iran and Saudi Arabia going at it over dominance of the region.
  1. Fourth: Neighboring Helping Hands. Iran is quietly encouraged to back out of direct involvement in Iraqi politics and sponsorship of pro-Iranian militias within the Shia community. The Sunni Arab states bankroll consolidation of central authority and, this is key, a Shia-Sunni reconciliation...which would be a huge watershed event in Islam. With sectarian tensions defused and local machinery and means in place to assure central Iraqi authority, the Americans peel out.
  1. "Lebanonization" - Iran basically takes over as peacekeeper and kingmaker in Iraq, an open secret that is regardless unacknowledged as even existing by the United States or the Iraqi political parties.
  1. Throw All The Ingredients Into A Big Pot O Stew - The Conclusion! The Wrap! The Long Goodbye!

So, with that....

First, Some Overview on the Iraq Study Group's Mission

Per the Council on Foreign Relations,

Over the past year, the group’s panelists have met, interviewed, or consulted with hundreds of high-ranking current and former officials, most of them in the United States or Iraq, as well as senior military officers, nongovernmental organization leaders, and academics. They have consulted foreign policy experts ranging from former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell to New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. They have interviewed members of President Bush’s cabinet, including the president and vice president, the administration's top ally, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and Iraqi leaders of all sectarian stripes, including Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. Baker also reportedly met in September with Iran's UN ambassador, Javad Zarif, at his New York residence for a three-hour discussion focusing on Iraq, and members of the ISG repeatedly contacted Syria's Ambassador to the United States, Imad Moustapha. The purpose of this research, according to the USIP's website, is to provide a nonpartisan, forward-leaning assessment of the situation in Iraq and offer strategic advice to U.S. policymakers.

Short form: Interviews of decisionmaking elites of various backgrounds, with a heavy weighting in public and defense policy realms, and American ones, at that. This is a splendid means of deriving consensus among elites, especially American elites, for the express objective of providing, once more with feelng, forward-looking advice to U.S. policymakers.

Here's my read on it: From start to finish, the Baker Commission will be a of, by, for Americans process, using of, by, for American assumptions, perspectives, supporting authority and corroborating evidence, generating of, by, for American policy prescriptions.

And they may even turn out to be very good solutions for Iraq, too.

The Problem Being: Baker's Not The Only Game in Town

The Pentagon disclosed the existence of its own assessment this past Monday, glibly called the "Go Big", "Go Long", or "Go Home" Plan. There's not a whole lot of meat to it: Either the United States sends even more troops for a short while, sticks it out (read: stays the course) for a longer while, or packs it in. That's how the Pentagon (read: General Pace) is framing this discussion.

Fred in Vermont was first out the DKOS gate with Moonwalk Out of Iraq, so we'll give him first crack at the analysis on the likely compromise plan:

As to what to call this plan, one insider referred to it as "Go Big But Short While Transitioning to Go Long".  According to Ricks' sources, one of the downsides  is that some in Iraq might see the hybrid plan as  "a way for the United States to moonwalk out of Iraq -- that is, to imitate singer Michael Jackson's trademark move of appearing to move forward while actually sliding backward."

From where I'm sitting, it looks like Pace, at least, represents an army that is distancing itself from any blame for defeat. True to tell, it's not a battlefield solution that Iraq needs. Warmaking-wise, no array of armies on the planet can stand up against the American juggernaut. Peacemaking-wise, this is not General MacArthur's army. It just isn't. This far into the occupation of Japan,

The British Aren't Waiting

Per londonbear's British Give Iraq Pullout Roadmap:

The British Foreign Secretary has given a roadmap for the eventual pullout of British troops from Iraq. This involves the handover of the remaining provinces under British control to Iraqi responsibility.

British forces would initially withdraw completely from patrolling leaving the Iraqis with day-to-day responsibility for security.

The very significant new factor in today's annoucement that the second city of Basra is likely to be handed over in Spring next year.

here's the BBC link, again compliments of londonbear.

Forgot to mention - Iran's not waiting, either

I'm not usually in the habit of linking LA Times editorials, but this one starts out with a spot-on remark

IRAN HAS INVITED TOP Iraqi and Syrian leaders to Tehran this weekend, but there are no Americans on the guest list. The omission is hardly a snub — U.S. diplomats probably wouldn't have much fun there anyway — but the talks underline the absurdity of the White House position, which is essentially to wait for a bipartisan commission to give it permission to sit down with some friends and enemies. Regional discussions about the future of Iraq are already happening. The U.S. should send out some invitations of its own.

I wouldn't say permission, so much as political cover to make a brave but patently necessarily move: normalization (not reconciliation, normalization!) of relations with Iran. That is, if we are serious participants in a safer, more free, more prosperous Iraq.

For more on the summit, Visit Marks Talabani's First Visit to Tehran as President

The money quote, though has to be this:

"We feel that Iran is a very important neighbor," said Iraqi government spokesman Ali Aldabbagh.

"We would like to have a better relationship with Iran, and we don't want for Iraq to pay for the tension in the relations between Iran and the United States."

And neither is Turkey...

Turkey, Iraq, sign trade deal

[State Minister] Tuzmen said that Habur border crossing is proved to be inadequate as regards the volume of trade and traffic between the two countries, and therefore two more border passes would be opened as soon as possible.

Tuzmen added that Turkey will organize a conference on oil and gas in 2007 in cooperation with the Iraqi Oil Ministry.

Meanwhile, al-Shahristani said that Iraq has taken measures to ensure the security of the (Kirkuk-Yumurtalik oil) pipeline, and started to implement alternative pipeline projects.

Referring to rich natural gas reserves in Iraq, al-Shahristani stated that this natural gas will be shipped to European markets via Turkey.

So much for American contractors.


Turkey, Iraq agree to fight terrorism

Namely, Kurdish separatists in either Turkey or Iraq.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday that Turkey and Iraq have agreed to strengthen their cooperation in fighting against terrorism, including Turkish rebels.

Erdogan made the remarks at a joint news conference with his Iraqi counterpart Nouri al-Maliki, who arrived in Ankara Thursday morning for a two-day state visit to Turkey.

"During our meeting, we ... reviewed measures to be taken against the terrorist organization," said Erdogan, referring to the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK), an separatist group listed as a terrorist organization by Ankara.

On his part, al-Maliki said, "We will not allow any formation to jeopardize security of neighbor countries."

As for how seriously the Turks take this particular issue, I'll have to draw on some earlier work: They care to the tune of having 250,000 troops on the northern border of Iraq, ready to pounce if the Kurds so much as think about independence. As for the Americans being able to stop such an invasion: Sure. The US could stop the Turks, but lose control of Iraq in the bargain.

...nor Syria...

Syria-Iraq resume diplomatic relations after 24 years; 100 more Iraqis killed

Iraq restored diplomatic relations with Syria as part of a wider regional effort to clamp off violence in Iraq. Iran has invited the Iraqi and Syrian presidents to a weekend summit in Tehran _ an invitation thought to be an attempt by Tehran to upstage expected U.S. moves to enlist Syria and Iran in tackling the chaos in Iraq.

Which is to say

There are a lot of dogs in this hunt, not just an effectively homogeneous pool of American elite decisionmakers.

Now, we'll take a peek at those scenarios, what appears to be the elite consensus on each, and where such consensus just isn't up to specs, that is, if we are discussing reality on the ground as opposed to domestic American political will.

To Be Continued

I have been advised by peer review that I may, just may, have a tendency to write diaries that are a bit long for one reading.

So I'm going to give you guys a chance to get a word in edgewise. :)

Originally posted to cskendrick on Wed Nov 22, 2006 at 02:59 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Bush on Iraq: A plan My kingdom for a plan! n/t (7+ / 0-)

    Change the course--change the Captain. Change the crew. But save the ship!

    by ImpeachKingBushII on Wed Nov 22, 2006 at 03:06:50 PM PST

  •  Wait--Isn't Bush Starting His Own in Parallel? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cskendrick, nonnie9999, suburi

    Or is that the military's?

    I have to wonder if there are two militaries, leadership-wise: One that speaks for The Empire® which can probably tolerate criticism of the immediate mission but needs to immunize its Mideast Manifest Destiny; and the other, legitimate military, that merely has the usual greed-and-reputation needs to make sure it's not blamed for political leadership's bungling.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy....--ML King, "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Nov 22, 2006 at 03:21:19 PM PST

  •  I read the whole thing. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gogol, cskendrick, nonnie9999, phonegery


    And it all made crystal perfect sense to me.

    And I'm currently under the influence of a prescription narcotic cough suppressant.

    That says a lot about the state of US foreign policy.

    There's nothing to fear but the Republican Party itself.

    by suburi on Wed Nov 22, 2006 at 03:48:00 PM PST

    Recommended by:

    But isn't the Baker Report intended to blame the CIA for faulty intelligence thus exculpating the President for going to war for a half dozen reasons?

    And while the Study Group has one token black and one token female why is there no anti-war or liberal participant?

    Lastly, the present solutions: Stay the course, Cut our losses and Run back to Kuwait where we were before the madness started, and Divide Iraq into 3 autonomous regions, aren't these solutions still adding more killings?

    Here's one solution that would stop all killings:
    PARTITION IRAQ. Cede the Kurdish area with its oil to Turkey; cede the Sunni area to Sunni Saudi Arabia which has oil to the gazoo, and cede the Shia area to Shia Iran.

    Now PARTITION is not new under the sun: it worked with the Ottoman empire, with India, with Ireland,with Yugoslavia, with Cyprus, etc. SO WHY NOT PARTITION IRAQ?

    •  Rather minor detail that the Iraqis might object. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      farleftcoast, thered1, John Casper

      And do so with considerably more vigor than they are currently applying to the task of killing one another.

      I feel like I am part of my own country again.

      by cskendrick on Wed Nov 22, 2006 at 04:57:38 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  There's that other little matter (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        farleftcoast, thered1, John Casper

        that a full-fledged Iraqi civil war could very easily lead into a full-blown regional war involving Turkey, Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, et al.  Would nuclear-armed Israel sit on the sidelines?  Would Pakistan?

        Lot of potential downside to an enforced partition.  What is the upside?

        •  Enforced partition is a ludicrous idea, because.. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gogol, count, John Casper

 could well be happening by force of inertia, right now.

          One does not force a falling knife to fall.

          As for Israel getting involved? I'd say the IDF has a full plate much closer to home.

          Pakistan? Very doubtful, for the same reason.

          I feel like I am part of my own country again.

          by cskendrick on Wed Nov 22, 2006 at 07:22:15 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Let's say (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            an Iranian-Syrian alliance emerges out of a broad regional war.  Considering their tacit collaboration with Hezbollah and their apparent convergence over Iraq negotiations, that doesn't strike me as outside the realm of possibility.

            Let's say that alliance gains the upper hand in fighting against Turkey and Saudi Arabia.  Granted that Turkey and Saudi Arabia would have a technological advantage, because of their backing from the US, Iranian troops would almost certainly be the best motivated.  It's a long shot for them to win, but it's not outside the realm of possibility.

            The IDF may have a full plate close to home, but could Israel afford to allow Iran to emerge as the dominant military power in the Persian Gulf?

            And if Israel launches a full scale war against Iran, would Islamic militants in Pakistan allow their country to stay out of that war?

            The point, of course, is to bring out a worst case scenario of partition in Iraq: a regional nuclear war.  It might not be a likely outcome, but it clearly is a possible one.

            •  Turkey, Iran becoming fast friends, not rivals. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              This is where your scenario breaks down almost immediately. Where is breaks down even more severely is the notion that the Turks and Saudis are pals for any other reason than they are separated by a wide buffer zone. The various Arab states have a long memory for Ottoman rule, and would abide Turkish suzerainty not at all. The Turks have many strikes against them being

              1. not Arabs
              1. secularist
              1. associates (albeit often uncomfortable ones) with Israel
              1. allies of the United States
              1. Euro wannabes
              1. a former conqueror, widely considered a cruel one
              1. a rising regional power and world player; not a single Arab state is doing better than treading water at the moment.
              1. strong civic and military institutions (the latter hold a de facto veto over the civilian government)

              Set this against Iran

              1. not Arabs
              1. religious, but Shia (which is almost as bad)
              1. open advocates of revolutionary change, violent or otherwise, within Islam.
              1. most exemplary of this last are ties with Hizbollah in Lebanon; sometimes. There are fears of a much larger incursion of the same nature developing in Iraq.
              1. allies of the Chinese and Russians. More infidels. Why can't they find a nice Muslim nation-state to settle down with?
              1. Asian wannabes
              1. a rising regional power and world player.
              1. Strong civic, military and religious institutions, the latter having a de jure veto over the activities of the civilian regime.

              This is not to say that Turkey and Iran lack clashing ambitions, or mutually exclusive goals. Both have large populations, in need of energy, resources, security, trade goods, food, water (always important in the Near and Middle East) and a sense of control over their own lives. Turkey and Iran have overlapping spheres of influence and ambition -- namely, influence in Central Asia and the Middle East.

              However, both are at least testing the waters of regional "co-dominion" as a viable alternative to what presently is the only regional hegemon game in town -- American dominance -- as superior to the next likely arrangement.

              That being dominance by the Sino-Russian alliance.

              For this reason, though the Europeans are rather slow on the uptake, the Turks are soliciting even stronger European ties.

              The Americans, even slower getting the hint, have a golden opportunity to broker a much, much bigger win condition in the region.

              All they have to do is find a way to make nice with Iran. Not super-nice; just nice enough to tolerate being in the same room as one another, and selling this as a net positive gain (or at least a far superior loss) relative to watching Iraq fall to pieces and American influence in the Middle East with it.

              I feel like I am part of my own country again.

              by cskendrick on Thu Nov 23, 2006 at 07:33:40 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  THE UPSIDE TO PARTITION (0+ / 0-)

          In answer to LITHO the upside to partition is that, first, the 3 SEPARATE areas would be reunited with their co-religionists.

          Secondly, the killings would stop entirely.

          Thirdly partition would stop the Civil War raging right now in Iraq.

          And, finally, partition would bring our troops home.

          Give it some further thoughts.

          •  Uh, Kurds are Sunni. By your theory.... (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            farleftcoast, thered1, John Casper

            Sunni Kurds and Sunni Arabs, being coreligionists, are already cool.

            Alas, that's just not so; they're killing each other left and right in Kirkuk.


            The Iraqis would not take having their country drawn out of existence quietly...and in fact would become even more violent, and violent in far larger numbers, toward Coalition forces and/or any opportunistic neighbors.

            The real test of course would be asking the Iraqis what they want.

            Hell, they're chopping themselves up into three countries anyway, so this is really a moot argument.

            I feel like I am part of my own country again.

            by cskendrick on Thu Nov 23, 2006 at 12:11:00 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  OBJECTIONS OVERRULED !!!!!! (0+ / 0-)

        Would the Kurds object to being reunited with the Kurds already in Turkey?

        Would Turkey object to getting the oil in the Kurdish area?

        Would the Sunnis object to being reunited with their brethren the Saudi Arabians?

        Would the Shiites object to being reunited with their brethren the Shiites of Iran?

        Would they rather continue to kill each other or to find peace with their brethren?


        •  You are not talking about partition (5+ / 0-)

          You are talking about carving up an existing state and handing off pieces to neighbors.

          Also, Turkey is (see above) for keeping Iraq as-is.

          So is Syria.

          So is Iran.

          The notion that Iraqis perceive themselves as brethren of the Saudis is absurd for reasons of nationality, dialect, sect within Sunni Islam, tribal affinities, geograophy, regime experience (Iraqis do not want a king). Now, some may. Most will not. Most would see Saudi interlopers as scarce better than Arab-speaking vassals of the Americans...which would arguably be the case.

          Shia Arabs do not blend easily with Shia Persians, for reason of culture, ethnicity and language. Also, the variety of Shia Islam varies greatly. Then there's the regime experience. Not all Shia want to turn Iraq into Western Iran. I would say about as few as want Iraq to become United States-Middle East Division.

          Sure Turks want oil from the northern fields...and in fact they get all they please by trading for it.

          I feel like I am part of my own country again.

          by cskendrick on Wed Nov 22, 2006 at 11:59:24 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Word in edgewise... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cskendrick, count, John Casper


    •  Partition worked for Yugoslavia and Cyprus? (0+ / 0-)

      That's like saying ethnic cleansing works.

      People have long memories, that's why it never works, in my opinion.

      Look at these people! They suck each other! They eat each other's saliva and dirt! -- Tsonga people of southern Africa on Europeans kissing.

      by upstate NY on Sat Nov 25, 2006 at 05:47:01 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  CUCKOS ARE EVERYWHERE (0+ / 0-)

        Yugoslavia is at peace RIGHT NOW.
        Czechoslovakia is at peace RIGHT NOW
        Cyprus is at peace RIGHT NOW.
        Ireland is at peace RIGHT NOW.
        The Koreas are at peace RIGHT NOW
        It's true that "people have long memories", and it's true that conflicts can break out at any moment, ANYWHERE AND AT ANY TIME.

        But we are talking about Iraq: we broke it and we should fix it.The 3 solutions: Stay the course, Cut and run, and dividing Iraq into 3 separate areas are certified failures. At least PARTITION will shift security responsibilities to 3 different and more powerful countries AND IT WILL STOP THE KILLINGS.

        Take Turkey for example. Right now it has 250,000 troops on its border with Iraq. Ceding the Kurdish area to Turkey will give the Turks oil which it now trades for. That would be an inducement for Turkey to take over the Kurdish area and move its 250,000 troops further south. It already has a Kurdish
        minority so it could absorb the Iraqui Kurds by offering them some autonomy AND A SHARE OF the oil.


        •  FURTHERMORE (0+ / 0-)

          Take the Sunnis. Right now they have no oil which is their main argument to a divided Iraq. Cede the Sunni area to Sunni Kuwait and presto they will share the wealth. ARE ALL SUNNI IRAQUIS CRAZIES? Do they all want to be killed? Won't they feel safer under a Kuwaiti regime than in present Iraq? Look at Jordan: it took in a million or more Palestinians who are living at peace with their Jordanian neighbors.

          PARTITION WILL STOP THE BLOODSHED so why not give it a try?

        •  Yugoslavia had hundreds of thousands of deaths (0+ / 0-)

          precisely because of the separation policy that the West jumped into like braindead morons.

          Cyprus' so-called peace was won with the ethnic cleansing and murder of thousands.

          Many look at this example and they realize that if you start insurrections and perform terrorist actions, then someone might conclude that the reward for killing is your own land and territory.

          In these two specific cases I think separation is a sore and a bblack eye. In both cases, you have a Bosnian Republic that is still diided village by village into Serbs Croats and Muslims. Turkey and Greece almost went to war over Cyprus as recently as 1998.

          Look at these people! They suck each other! They eat each other's saliva and dirt! -- Tsonga people of southern Africa on Europeans kissing.

          by upstate NY on Sun Nov 26, 2006 at 06:14:10 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  YOU'RE BRINGING UP THE PAST (0+ / 0-)


            Cyprus is at peace right NOW.
            Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia are at peace right NOW.
            Ireland is at peace right NOW.
            The Koreas are at peace right NOW.

            As long as the moon stays up there we will have lunatics running wild all over the world: in Chechnya, in the Sudan, in Iraq, in Washington, DC.

            But we are concerned with bringing our troops out of harm's way and the solutions presented so far are failures or doomed to fail. PARTITION will no longer pit insurgents against insurgents but countries against countries.

            Do you think the lunatics in Syria or  in Iran  will want to fight the Turks?

            •  I'm just disagreeing in principle (0+ / 0-)

              I think those examples are actually negative examples. There are even military occupations going on in Cyprus, to this day, for instance. One could just as easily argue that the so-called peace in Cyprus is a product of an military occupation that the entire world, including the UN, has decreed illegal and a war crime. In other words, these examples cut both ways.

              In both Cyprus and Yugo, there were few deaths caused by interethnic fighting BEFORE the decisions the split the country. It was only after the secessionist movements that all the killing happened. And today, there are still 40,000 troops in the North of Cyprus, many more per capita than the US has in Iraq.

              Look at these people! They suck each other! They eat each other's saliva and dirt! -- Tsonga people of southern Africa on Europeans kissing.

              by upstate NY on Mon Nov 27, 2006 at 08:01:09 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  "The Report of the Iraq Study Group" (9+ / 0-)

    a/k/a "Plan 9 from Outer Space."

    1. The primary goal of our Group was to identify and evaluate alternatives to the current strategy, i.e., "stay the course until Western-style democracy erupts in Iraq."
    1. Recognizing that Western-style democracy isn't likely to erupt in Iraq any time soon, we recognized at the same time that abandoning this goal would expose the Bush Administration to the harsh judgment of history -- especially given the fact that the original rationale for the invasion, the need to secure and destroy the weapons of mass destruction, turned out to be nonexistent.
    1. Therefore, the secondary goal of our Group was to identify, promote and obtain consensus for a new and achievable goal that didn't sound like "stay the course" but wasn't really all that different.
    1.  Despite interviews with hundreds of prominent Americans, it soon became apparent that we would not be able to achieve such a consensus.
    1.  We therefore cast a wider net, and sent an expedition to Uranus to consult with the Things Who Live In Uranus.  
    1.  The Things Who Live In Uranus told us that we needed to eliminate the perception that the  United States has a choice about whether to stay the course.  The Things Who Live In Uranus told us that we needed to present the new strategy as something that could not be debated, because there were no alternative courses of action.
    1.  Once alternative courses of action had been eliminated, the fact that staying the course made no sense would become irrelevant.
    1.  The Iraq Study Group gratefully accepts the wisdom of the recommendations made by the Things That Live In Uranus, and hopes that they will be awarded the Medal of Freedom in the near future.

    Mr. President, you work with the Congress you have, not the Congress you might want or wish for at a later time. Or the Congress you used to have....

    by litigatormom on Wed Nov 22, 2006 at 05:35:22 PM PST

    •  I don't buy the 'they're not ready for it" theory (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      litho, phonegery, John Casper

      I think it is patronizing, and empirically wrong.

      The historical experience since decolonization is that 80% of all regime changes to representative democracy "stick" ten years down the road.

      The problem is managed transitions, usually because of some authoritarian tutelage, be it domestic elites trying to conserve some part of their own eminence, or foreign intervenors (or departing colonial powers) trying to install their pet regime in their stead.

      For such countries, the likelihood of a representative democracy being in place 10 years later is less than 20%.

      This applies across all cases, all cultures, all economic strata.

      If democracy-building failed in Iraq, it is explicitly because that was not an honest intention of the invaders. Or, assuming good intentions, there was a complete lack of good sense on what to do. Or, assuming that, patent incompetency at doing right by the Iraqi people.

      Occam's razor would suggest first incompetency (as that has been demonstrated repeatedly in other public policy venues), then lack of good sense, then lack of good intentions.

      I feel like I am part of my own country again.

      by cskendrick on Wed Nov 22, 2006 at 07:05:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Study Group motives? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cskendrick, farleftcoast

      The so-called "Study Group" -- like every other desire for 'study' ever initiated by a Republican -- is little more than a delaying tactic.  

      Delay the withdrawal, so that the Carlyles can squeeze out just another fifty or a hundred billion before the inevitable.  

      Delay the inevitable, to give time for the GOP to shift blame for the fiasco as completely as possible onto the shoulders of Nancy Pelosi.  

      Delay the inevitable, so that the killing gets even worse, and woe unto those who ever said "withdraw."  Note the many tacit nods of approval when Bush said we should have stayed the course in Vietnam.  While more intelligent people move on, those nods will remain nodding.  Wait another thirty years and the media will once again torture the logic of war and decry how "liberals" didn't allow sufficient use of force.  

      Meanwhile, on this very Thanksgiving Day, the next Bush-to-be is probably picking his nose and burping at the family table of some super-rich fuck-the-humans right winger.  

      •  As likely a face-saving move for US consumption (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        farleftcoast, Eikyu Saha

        Nobody else in the room is even listening, not even other Beltway players.

        The chief objective of the Baker Report-to-be is to get Americans to forget about Iraq as quickly as possible, and paint a rosy picture on the rise of a Turkish-Iranian alliance enjoying codominium over the northern tier of the Middle East and no small amount of influence in both the Trans-Caucasus and Central Asia.

        Now, we can be pals with these guys, or at least civil, or we can screw up and enable the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (the Sino-Russian alliance) to that much more easily add the Middle East to its sphere of influence.

        I feel like I am part of my own country again.

        by cskendrick on Thu Nov 23, 2006 at 09:05:16 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Dreadful thought (0+ / 0-)

          that a Sino-Russian alliance would colonize that region.  But would the result really be any more dreadful than what the US-Euro alliance has wrought?  Having read James Traub's latest NYT piece "China's African Adventure" (in which he inexplicably seems to defend the IMF despite a few pointed jabs, while equally inexplicably allowing an anti-Chinese tone to pervade the piece), I'm not so sure.  The slums of Angola that Chinese capital is now creeping into were not created by China.  Time will tell, and there is not much cause for optimism (the driving machine, after all, is capital).  

          I really think the way to limit the abuse is not to destroy the enemy (a. it doesn't work, and b. it only makes them stronger), but to limit the predatory nature of "our own" use of capital.  Failed states never help anyone in the long run (except, of course, the Halliburtons).  

        •  btw, nice diary cs as always nt (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
  •  Nice diary, that aside I'm very interested (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    in this info, "Per the Council on Foreign Relations".

    Once again, at the risk of the usual troll/tin foil hat bullshit, we have the inclusion of the elites re the Council on Foreign Relations.

    Anyone that wants to discover exactly what the Council on Foreign Relations and its step child, the Trilateral Commission, can go to this link...

    While your there, check out all the other globalization bull shit they are involved in.

    Get the urge to purge!

    by 0hio on Wed Nov 22, 2006 at 07:40:42 PM PST

  •  thanks for this commentary n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
  •  Diary is nice size (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cskendrick, John Casper

    Readable, well-paced. Good job. Not too long at all.

    The elephant in the room, however, is the assumption that we can affect ANYTHING that is happening in Iraq right now.

    The problem is not large-scale, government-to-government, it's microscale -- man-to-man. Small group vs. small group. The Iraqi government does not have control. We certainly don't have control. Not even in our little Green Zone, where bombs exploded the other day.

    Our micro-control is our troops. That is where the problem starts. There is not enough of them. More than three years later, we don't have enough Arab-speakers, never mind no understanding of the culture. The force, and commanders rotate in and out (a key problem in Vietnam.) And now the force, and equipment, is pretty well exhausted.

    So tell me, how would any Baker plan be enacted, give the sad shape of our troops?

    The only thing we have control of in Iraq is ourselves. We can take ourselves out of Iraq without any problem. The reasoning that if we withdraw, chaos would ensue is a joke. We have not prevented chaos, every day in Iraq is more chaotic than the next, and we CAN'T prevent a further slide into chaos.

    And by the way, training Iraqis is another joke. Just like Vietnamization, which lasted, I believe, about 7 years. The minute we pulled out, it will fall apart. The same thing will happen in Iraq.

    So now you and I know all of this, and we didn't even need a think tank. The sooner we pull out, the more of our soldiers and Marines we save and the faster the Iraqis figure out how to solve their own problems.

    Anybody with me?

    (Bush) believes the same thing Wednesday that he believed on Monday, no matter what happened Tuesday. -- Colbert

    by makemefree on Wed Nov 22, 2006 at 11:25:38 PM PST

    •  Fact is, (0+ / 0-)

      nobody knows what will happen if we withdraw, despite the dire warnings of all the chit-chat artists. The people who need to find a way to live in that part of the world might decide to act like grown-ups, but we won't know unless we give them a chance.

      Awfully optimistic, I know, but still...

      •  chaos (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Good point. We don't know what would happen. Could peace break out? Probably not. Not all of the violence is against our troops, although they do seem to serve as a rallying point. And once we go, there will be still a lot of Sunni-Shia violence and violence within those groups. But maybe they will be more motivated to make peace without our presence being an issue.

        (Bush) believes the same thing Wednesday that he believed on Monday, no matter what happened Tuesday. -- Colbert

        by makemefree on Thu Nov 23, 2006 at 08:09:21 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Crux of the subject (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cskendrick, John Casper

    From the Wikipedia entry on Vietnam:

    Last, how could inexperienced U.S. troops (many of whom were unwilling conscripts) be reasonably expected to engage in such a guerrilla war without succumbing to stress and resorting to acts of wanton brutality. Fighting a mostly invisible enemy (who often utilized the civilian population as a shield) that did not obey the conventional rules of warfare, American troops suffered injury and death from impersonal booby traps and snipers. This could only lead to the kind of fear and hatred (elevated by racism) that would compromise morals.

    I would like to ask:

    How could overworked U.S. troops (many of whom are on their 3rd or 4th tour of duty) be reasonably expected to engage in such a guerrilla war without succumbing to stress and resorting to acts of wanton brutality. Fighting a mostly invisible enemy (who often utilized the civilian population as a shield) that did not obey the conventional rules of warfare, American troops suffered injury and death from impersonal IEDs and snipers. This could only lead to the kind of fear and hatred (elevated by racism) that would compromise morals.

    Impossible situation. Now get the hell out.

    (Bush) believes the same thing Wednesday that he believed on Monday, no matter what happened Tuesday. -- Colbert

    by makemefree on Wed Nov 22, 2006 at 11:43:54 PM PST

  •  Step Back. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cskendrick, ybruti, thered1


    A little more.

    Oooooh Kay. That's far enough.

    cskendrick's discussion seems likely to lead to a very thoughtful analytical conclusion, which I don't expect to be the result of our national discourse. Isn't this much about the necessity of proper perspective? We hear a lot of people talking past each other, we see people changing their views from week to week, administration apologists are saying really dumb things. I mean forget about Bush saying that his plan for victory is to win, and that all we need to do to win is to not quit. Rummy is on his way out but his talking points live on. People who should know better are still relating the likelihood of success in Iraq to outcomes of American involvement in El Salvador, Nicaragua, post-WWII Germany, post-WWII Japan...what the hell? Duncan Hunter, are you listening? What do Nicaragua and El Salvador have to do with Iraq? And you sumbitch, if you have no idea what we did to Germany and Japan to achieve those results, maybe you should just go put a Colt .45 in your mouth. You certainly should not pollute our political landscape by running for President.

    Perspective. Knowing what Bush/Blair's real motives are is not possible. Maybe its about controlling oil, perhaps it's about establishing an Iraqi democracy to serve as an example to its neighbors, it might be about inspiring Middle Eastern bodies politic to topple their authoritarian governments, or about controlling the heroin trade. It's probably not about getting the Wahabbes to supplant the House of Saud, but who knows?

    Whatever their motives might be, the view from 30,000 feet would seem to be that Bush and Blair are determined to prove that they can achieve their goals by having Muslim nations attacked and occupied by Christian nations. Am I going extremist here, friends and neighbors, or is this something that large parts of the world might reasonably conclude? If it's reasonable, every Muslim nation, not just the Middle Eastern ones, would seem to have good reason to oppose the Bush/Blair Iraq agenda. The neo-cons are unable to discern any reason that we might be running into so much trouble there. I don't think it's at all difficult to understand, given the perspective from beyond our own cultures and borders.

    I don't expect the ISG or the other reviews to lead to a successful occupation of Iraq. I think they will have about as much salutory effect as the various studies done in the '60s that advised LBJ to begin withdrawing from Vietnam.

    Footnote: it seems to me that Iran is the one nation above all others that has benefited from our Iraq adventurism. Partly because of our own ideological stupidity, and partly because of their own astute view of the situation and their adroit politics, they are establishing an increasingly strong web of relationships with Russia and countries in East Asia, South Asia, Central Asia, and Latin America.

    Bush/Blair are screwed.

    The only thing I can think to do is to pass the next supplemental on condition that no funding will be forthcoming for FY08, or to pass the next supplemental on condition that, if it is obvious by Sept. 07 that we will be out of Iraq by summer 08, funding will be extended through June 08. Support our troops wholeheartedly as long as they're there, but get them out be summer 08 at the absolute latest.

  •  NO OCCAM'S RAZOR, PLEASE! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    We are dealing with hoomons here...

  •  ...and your point? (0+ / 0-)


    What about pacification?  
    Or contrarywise, does the term '400,000 more troops' come up anywhere?
    What about sending in buses and trucks to depopulate?

    (-7.63,-6.21) "Never doubt that a thoughtful group of committed citizens. ...etc., etc." M.Mead "I, on the other hand, am not so sanguine." ez

    by ezdidit on Thu Nov 23, 2006 at 01:59:03 AM PST

    •  Assuming this is at least 50% snark... (0+ / 0-)

      I one did the numbers on how many troops it would have taken from the outset to securitize (borrowing from finance jargon) Iraq.

      I came up with 270-320 thousand. I remember posting this estimate on a bipartisan blog.

      The Republicans howled at me for being an anklebiter.

      My retort was, hey, you want my advice on how to wrap this ill-advised project up or not?

      Their answer: Just shut up and let grown-ups like George W. Bush do their thing.

      Uh-huh. Bet they wish they'd listened now. :)

      Depopulation nation

      I am of the opinion that the Bushies would, if they could create the political will for it here at home, round up the entire Muslim population of the planet and put them on reservations and homelands.

      I do not think they like people who do not think and look just like themselves very much.

      I feel like I am part of my own country again.

      by cskendrick on Thu Nov 23, 2006 at 07:39:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The key to stabilizing Iraq is ...... (3+ / 0-)

    get the hell out of there, defund the damn war, and give up on the insanity of broadening the war to Syria and Iran.

    Otherwise, we can kiss our asses good bye as we bankrupt the nation and decimate our military.  The National Guardspeople spoke loudly in the election, it would behoove the spineless pols in both parties to listen.

    •  ...most pols are spineless.... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      farleftcoast, thered1

      ...what we need are tough citizens to speak truth to power.  Or should I say 'vile power.'  

      Here I am: A culture and a creed of lies and deception, media manipulation and permanent war, manipulation of religious ideals... these are the problems.  Iraq is a tactic, assault and compromise of truthtelling in the media are tactics.  It is just as easy for Dems to posit an attack on neocon ideology as it is to posit a War on Terrorism.

      The problem is the patrician political class that views itself as privileged and entitled because they are the tiniest minority.  Watch them now as they snicker away from the wild profits they have bankrolled over the past 6 years.  Watch as they recede back into the tall grass for an election cycle or two so that Democrats can clean up their scummy residue once more.

      I have seen assassinations and wars on their watch, but none on our watch.  Why is that?

      It is time for a cleaning of our house in these United States.  And it won't start with a Democratic Congress.  Apolitical beasts like Baucus and Lieberman and Hoyer are too tapped in to the polls.  They will just lie to the voters and then betray them when they're in office.  It reeks to high Heaven, doesn't it?

      (-7.63,-6.21) "Never doubt that a thoughtful group of committed citizens. ...etc., etc." M.Mead "I, on the other hand, am not so sanguine." ez

      by ezdidit on Thu Nov 23, 2006 at 03:22:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Given that it's a representative democracy (0+ / 0-)

        I'd say the problem is not that the pols listen too closely to the American people, but they and their media and pundit enablers do their utmost to spin self-serving yarns out of honest wool.

        After which what the American people think they want, after being force-fed a lot of inflammatory, carefully-crafted lies, is indeed but a caricature of what the elites wanted to do in the first place.

        The good news is this sort of manipulation can only go on for so long before there is a backlash.

        I don't think the Republicans and their allies within the Democratic party have even begun to see the payback for six years (so far) of policy fraud.

        I feel like I am part of my own country again.

        by cskendrick on Thu Nov 23, 2006 at 07:46:30 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

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