Evaluating the ISG Report

First of all, Glenn Greenwald in talking about the James Baker-led Iraq Study Group Report, makes the extremely good point that the decision to be made by America citizens concerning the Iraq War and the ISG Report is not, never was and never can be one that involves any degree of nuance. It's a strict, up-or-down, yes-or-no, get-out-or-stay-in choice. Anybody seeking to introduce any kind, form, shape or variety of nuance is simply aiding and abetting President Bush and his "We're going to stay in Iraq until Hell freezes over" strategy. As Greenwald puts it:

"In 2002, it was clear that the President was intent on invading and occupying Iraq, and all sorts of people endorsed that central idea but then -- like James Baker or Tom Friedman -- added their own caveats about how they thought it should be done. That didn't matter. Anything other than unambiguous, emphatic opposition to the invasion counted as support for the war. It fueled, rather than impeded, Bush's ability to invade at will."

And as Jonah Goldberg adds:

"The report undercuts the Murtha crowd by delegitimizing the quick bug-out (AKA redeployment) option and makes staying in Iraq at least until '08 the "conventional" or "mainstream" point of view.

"For Bush, isn't this the only part of the ISG report that matters? And when it comes to the actual situation in Iraq, the report basically confirms established policies of the White House and the Pentagon. So, in effect, doesn't the heralded bipartisan commission in effect give Bush the leeway to — ahem — stay the course?" [emphases in original quote]

As Bush himself puts it:

"We [Bush & British Prime Minister Tony Blair] agree that victory in Iraq is important; it's important for the Iraqi people, it's important for the security of the United States and Great Britain, and it's important for the civilized world. We agree that an Iraq that can govern itself, defend itself and sustain itself as an ally on the war on terror is a noble goal. The Prime Minister and I seek a wide range of opinions about how to go forward in Iraq, and I appreciate your opinions and your advice."

Yeah sure, you can disagree with eternal, neverending war in Iraq, if of course you don't think "the civilized world" is important. I mean, if you think "the security of the United States and Great Britain" can be tossed to one side like a used-up hankie, then sure, go right ahead and advocate withdrawal. Part of the last sentence is pretty classic here: "The Prime Minister and I seek a wide range of opinions about how to go forward in Iraq" In other words, If your advice does NOT concern how to get Iraq to "sustain itself as an ally on the war on terror" then geddouddahere, you're wasting your breath. The advice Bush & Blair are looking for concerns "how to go forward." Period. If Iraq wants to be an Iran-lite, an Islamic theocracy and a slacker in the WOT (War on Terror), obviously that just won't do.

You see, the Iraq War does not involve, ordnary, mortal adversaries:

"The primary victims of the sectarian violence are the moderate majority of Iraqis -- Sunni and Shia alike -- who want a future of peace. The primary beneficiaries are Sunni and Shia extremists, inside and outside of Iraq, who want chaos in that country so they can take control and further their ambitions to dominate the region."

It's chaos and extremism vs the "moderate majority," It's a "future of peace" vs those "inside and outside of Iraq" who want to "take control." There's no possible, conceivable way that Bush and his buddies can ever seek any sort of accomodation or coexistence or tolerance for the other's existence. Bush is defining the enemy in absolutist, sharp-edged terms. No nuance here whatsoever. It's life or death, glorious victory or humiliating defeat.

Progressives and Democrats can either do as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reed and Speaker Nancy Pelosi are doing, i.e. pick and choose what they will and won't support, take the ISG Report on an a la carte basis or they can call BS on the whole thing and demand a pull-out.

Update: Hoo boy! I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall at THIS meeting!! Bush had a meeting with Democrats at which he rambled on about how he was the greatest, most bestest president evuh and how Harry Truman was also misunderstood and underestimated and how everybody realized later tha Truman was right and people should just siddown an' shuddup and let him do his thing.

[Senate Majority Whip-elect Richard] Durbin [D-Ill] said he challenged Bush's analogy, reminding him that Truman had the NATO alliance behind him and negotiated with his enemies at the United Nations. Durbin said that's what the Iraq Study Group is recommending that Bush do now — work more with allies and negotiate with adversaries on Iraq.

Bush, Durbin said, "reacted very strongly. He got very animated in his response" and emphasized that he is "the commander in chief."

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