Iraq Report Step in Right Direction
The Iraq Study Group Report is many things: the realist response to neoconservative adventurism, a devastating critique of a miserably failed policy, and a call for diplomacy and politics to supplant arms as the key weapon in the arsenal of the world's only superpower in the planet's most volatile region.
Yes, it is all of those things. And more.
The bipartisan American political establishment has sued for peace. "The ability of the United States to shape outcomes is diminishing," said the 10-member commission. "Time is running out." Indeed.
The war is lost. Now the endgame.
Here's the best case scenario: "Our most important recommendations call for new and enhanced diplomatic and political efforts in Iraq and the region, and a change in the primary mission of U.S. forces in Iraq that will enable the United States to begin to move its combat forces out of Iraq responsibly. We believe that these two recommendations are equally important and reinforce one another. If they are effectively implemented, and if the Iraqi government moves forward with national reconciliation, Iraqis will have an opportunity for a better future, terrorism will be dealt a blow, stability will be enhanced in an important part of the world, and America's credibility, interests and values will be protected."
The worst case scenario: a full-blown civil war escalating into widespread conflict in which regional powers (Iran, Israel, Jordan, Syria, Turkey, the Gulf States) exploit sectarian divisions in their oil-rich neighbor.
It's a far cry from what we and the Iraqis were promised.
"In Iraq," the president told an American Enterprise Institute audience a month before the U.S.-led invasion, "a dictator is building and hiding weapons that could enable him to dominate the Middle East and intimidate the civilized world--and we will not allow it. This same tyrant has close ties to terrorist organizations, and could supply them with the terrible means to strike this country--and America will not permit it."
He continued, "We will provide security against those who try to spread chaos, or settle scores, or threaten the territorial integrity of Iraq. We will seek to protect Iraq's natural resources from sabotage by a dying regime, and ensure those resources are used for the benefit of the owners--the Iraqi people."
In November 2003, before the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the president offered his vision: "Iraqi democracy will succeed--and that success will send forth the news, from Damascus to Tehran--that freedom can be the future of every nation," the president declared. "The establishment of a free Iraq at the heart of the Middle East will be a watershed event in the global democratic revolution."
All of this, every word, we now know was wrong. Terrible lies, invincible ignorance, gross misjudgments, amazing incompetence? …