Prague Twin

Monday, December 11, 2006

More Thoughts on the ISG

Now that I have had some time to think about the ISG report (and have my mind corrupted with the views at large) I thought I would say just a couple of more things about it.

First of all, I've noticed that no one liked it. Left, right, and center, the blogosphere has been truly unkind to the findings of the report.

Kvatch says they layed an egg. Nothing in the report that we didn't already know.

A similar comment is made by Crazy Politico, a righty. He argues that, "The Baker Hamilton Iraq Study (contained), well, nothing that hasn't been suggested by others already." When I asked if he had any better ideas, he responded with this gem...

PT, small thermonuclear weapons come to mind, but the world is so touch about those. The thing is, we've shown it only takes kilotons to get folks attention.

So although no one else has any better ideas what to do, everyone seems ready to bury the members of the ISG report. Relax everyone, those guys are so old, they will all be underground soon enough.

But all kidding aside, what occurs to me is that this report, if nothing else, highlights the actual problems that exist and puts to rest any lingering doubts as to the desperation of the situation in Iraq. The failed policy and the failure of the overall plan to invade are both clear as day to anyone who actually bothers to read it.

If nothing else, those who were against the invation in the first place and who spend a lot of time criticising the Administration for their decision and the poor management that followed (like Reality-based Educator) should at least acknowledge that this reports verifies everything we have been thinking and saying since the beginning.

Perhaps the whole thing is sort of a parody, or at least the recommendations are. The plan itself is completely unworkable. It calls for Iran, Syria, and Israel to all get on board, make sacrifices, and try to help. It also expects that president Bush is going to listen, make changes, and actually hire professionals to do important jobs instead of his political cronies to whom he owes favors. None of this is going to happen in the real world, and Baker et. al. are intelligent enought to know this.

Therefore, what they are saying in a very round about way is this: "we have already screwed the pooch folks, and there isn't a damn thing we can do to fix it now. We might as well start making moves to exit, because at least then we could fight some battles that we have a chance of winning."

People think that this report was a joke, but that is only half true. The report itself, the first half, is deadly serious. But perhaps the recommendations are actully intentionally a joke. It is kind of like telling a little boy who is too short to ride on the roller coaster, "sure, you can ride it, just grow a foot in the next five minutes and you are in there!"

Get it?


  • There are so many issues involved here, not least of which is the destruction of the 'American Dream'.
    Iraq is still, however it is expressed, domestic politics, for the US and the coalition partners.
    Somehow the debate needs to be widened, even before the consequences for Iraqis can be considered, to those domestic consequences.
    Nothing positive can be achieved without recognising the whole context.
    A problem has to be recognised and owned before it can be resolved.

    By Blogger Cartledge, at 8:36 PM  

  • A problem has to be recognised and owned before it can be resolved.

    In that respect, the first half of the report is what is important then. If the problems within can be recognized, perhaps some kind of solution can then be pondered.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 9:52 PM  

  • Good take Cartledge. Everyone wants to fix the broken part that helps only him or her.


    Good take also. It does seem that the first part is in fact what is important. However it is unlikely that the collective "West" will want to acknowledge what the first part had to say. This would in my opinion force people to actually support the broadening of the conflict rather than reducing it. JMO

    By Anonymous Arch Stanton, at 5:10 AM  

  • Let me ask you this Arch,.... how do you broaden the conflict when the army is stretched so thin you havt to send this guy and others like him back to the front?

    As the ISG report makes clear, the military is stretched to the limit. How do you propose "widening the conflict"? A draft? Nuclear weapons?

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 8:22 AM  

  • When we first went to Iraq I think most people that it would be over fast. They (some) even supported it. Now they want a quick fix and there isn't one.

    God Bless America, God Save The Republic.

    By Blogger David Schantz, at 10:31 AM  

  • PT

    What I am suggesting is this. It seems that there is a universal acknowledgment to the first part of the study. As such, I think that anyone who sees an unstable Iraq as a great concern to not just the Iraqis, but to the world, should be willing to lend a hand in rectifying the situation.

    This would include - but not be limited to - both the French (unlikely as they already have their own domestic Islamic fundamentalist problem) the Germans and the Russians.

    But as Cartledge points out, if there isn’t enough “immediate gain” for participants in such an endeavor, it is unlikely that such a scheme would ever come to fruition.

    Also, I would like to see a more global acknowledgment to the role that Iran is playing in the bloodletting in Iraq. This would go a long way I think in helping to establish more global pressure against Iran and it’s involvement in Iraq. This would require the media of course to start making it an issue and as it wants the war to end in failure, it will fall short of this responsibility.

    By Anonymous Arch Stanton, at 3:28 PM  

  • Aha!

    I misunderstood when you said that the conflict should be widened thinking you meant the fighting should spill over into Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan.....

    Yes, I agree that the global community should be more involved. It is a pity that the U.S. jumped the gun to invade and did not gather more international support before invading, chiefly from Russia, Germany, and France.

    It should be noted that there was a stable (yet imperfect) Iraq prior to the invation, and if stability is the key, it looks like Russia, Germany, and France actually knew what they were talking about and had good reason not to agree to help de-stabilize Iraq.

    With regards to the acknowledgement of Iran's meddling, I wonder why you choose to ignore Saudi Arabia's participation. I think the world is quite aware that both Iran and Saudi Arabia are funding their respective sides, yet many in the United States choose to completely ignore Saudi Arabia's funding of the insurgency.

    Why is that Arch?

    While Iran funds militias that have at times clashed with U.S. forces, Saudia Arabia is funding the Sunni insurgency, otherwise known as "the enemy". How is this completely overlooked? More importantly, why?

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 4:52 PM  

  • The ISG report was necessary, even if it's a day late and a dollar short. This kind of research needed to be done before the invasion.

    Now what? Who knows...

    By Anonymous Tom Harper, at 8:59 PM  

  • I'm not sure why it's important to acknowledge that some of the Wise Old Men of Washington have finally said publicly what everybody knows - it's over, it's made things worse, and the U.S. is going to be dealing w/ the fallout for years.

    Heck, lawmakers and statesmen are SUPPOSED to acknowledge the truth and deal with problems in the world as they are, not as they would like us to believe they are. The fact that lawmakers, pundits and statesmen have had such trouble stating the truth about the conditions in Iraq for the last four years says more about the lack of quality and courage in Washington than anything else.

    Speaking of which, Chuck Hagel has been saying all this stuff the ISG report said for the last two years now. If anybody deserves kudos, it's not the ISG - it's Hagel for being brave enough to point out the problems w/ the war strategy and devise solutions when it wasn't cool or popular to do so.

    BTW, how many American soldiers died while the ISG sat on its report for a few months so that the election could go down without the ISG having to reveal their report and "politicize the war"?

    By Blogger reality-based educator, at 11:53 PM  

  • PT

    Yes Iraq was stable, but is stability in and of itself virtuous? Clearly there are no indicators to suggest that had Saddam been left in power that his to thug sons wouldn’t have taken the reigns and continued with the same bloody policies as their father. I think you paint over the seriousness of the record human rights transgressions by simply calling it "imperfect". Gitmo is imperfect, but I don’t think that you personally would use that word to describe it.

    If Russia, France and Germany knew what they were talking about then why did they concur about the WMD charge? I think at this point were it not for the involvement of Iran, Iraq would be a great deal more stable, and Iran’s involvement - as I recall - wasn’t one of the aforementioned countries points of contention with Iraq’s stability.

    Why is it that I left out the Saudis? Or why do Americans ignore the Saudi connection? I left them out because they are not the high point. If someone is dying from cancer, that he/she also has a cold is inconsequential. Cure the cancer and then we can talk about the cold.

    Near as I can tell, Saudi funding of the Sunni insurgency is not sanctioned by the Saudi government (If you have information indicating otherwise please link to it so we can all see it, it would be a great overall topic)

    By Anonymous Arch Stanton, at 3:27 PM  

  • RBE

    "It's over"??? I guess we didn’t read the same report! It doesn’t surprise me though as it seems that we also don’t read the same U.S. Constitution either.

    By Anonymous Arch Stanton, at 3:30 PM  

  • So the Shia militias are the cancer and the Bathtist (Saddamist) insurgency is the cold?

    What does that make al Qaeda? A hangnail?

    So the Saudi Government is better at covering their tracks so they get a pass? Show me definative proof that Iran is supporting the Shia. I believe they are, but I believe the Saudis are supporting the Sunnis.

    Same thing except you choose to focus on only one. Wait, there is a difference, the Sunnis are killing a hell of a lot more of our troops than the Shia are, and they are also killing a lot more innocents. But thats okay because the Saudi government doesn't officially sanction funding the Sunni insurgency, they just officially turn a blind eye and don't lift a finger. If you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem, right? Or does that only go for Europe.

    Man, the hypocricy is so thick in here I can barely see strait.

    Oh, and speaking of solutions, as a war supporter, I'd like to hear your views on what the next step or steps should be.

    It is nice that we have moved passed the stage where you believe things are going swimmingly and all the reporters are in a conspiracy against GWB, and actually victory is near if people like me would stop being blinded by the media. I'm glad we are to the phase of a mutual understanding that the problems are deep serious and must be addressed. It is somewhat satisfying to be thus vindicated. But what I really want to know, Arch, is how do we clean up this mess?

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 5:31 PM  

  • PT

    No, the Saudi's don’t get a pass; it's just that until the links to the Saudi's are as definitive as the links to Iran, I think the focus should be on the known and not the suspected.

    I just told you what the next step should be. (See below)

    Yes certainly things are not going swimmingly well in Iraq. However this is partly due to the lopsided coverage of the conflict as a whole. The media has chosen to focus on the "triumphs" of our enemy and turn a blind eye to any success. This is why you seldom see stories that reflect the heroic nature of our troops in Iraq and in fact the reason that most Americans (in my opinion) are likely unaware of any American soldiers who one our nations highest acknowledgment of heroism and honor the CMH. As the insurgents are exposed to the global media, it should come as a surprise to no one that they are in fact inspired by it.

    I know in fact that you had to laugh at the last paragraph. Because your mind has been subjected to non-stop images and stories about Abu Grab and Hadifa, you no longer have the ability to or desire to look at the good that has happened. Let me ask you: Why is it that the media or its reporters seldom do a story on Kurdish Iraq? Could it be that things are ok there???? Couldn’t we in fact point to Kurdish Iraq and say, “It can work”?

    We clean up the mess by acknowledging who is helping to create the mess and advise of adverse consequences should the meddling not stop. For me this means implicating the Iranians, and for you this means implicating the Saudis.

    But on a parting question, having read the report yourself, how do you believe things would be different in Iraq today if there were in fact no Iranian or Saudi involvement in Iraq?

    By Anonymous Arch Stanton, at 3:31 PM  

  • I am working in the real world, so I really don't think it makes a bit of difference what it "would be like" if the Iranians and Saudis weren't involved: they are. This was predictable. This is now. So what do we do about it?

    How the award of the CMH makes a bit of difference to the Iraqis or the region as a whole is completely beyond me. I read about it in the MSM, by the way.

    With or without the media, the sectarian violence would be out of control. When Sunnis in Baghdad hear a knock on the door, they aren't worried that it is the media, they are worried it is one of the Ministries controlled by the Shia.

    You still see this as US Vs. THEM and fail to see the complexity of the situation. There are no media reports coming out of Anbar, and yet the fighing there is intense. It was not the media that created this mess. Your assesement here would be laughable if it wasn't so sadly misguided.

    Do you really believe that getting the Iranians and Saudis out of this would stop it? Even if it would, how exactly do you do that, especially when you won't even talk to the Iranians? Threats? None of these countries are responding to threats.

    The truth is Arch, you have no idea what the next step should be. You believed that a flourishing democracy would wash over Iraq and spread to the rest of the region.

    That fantasy seems like such a distant dream now.

    By the way, the success in parts of Kurdistan do not help the situation that is growing more and more desperate for the majority of Iraqis, and it is no bed of roses up there either. In fact, Kirkuk may end up being the mother of all battles before this whole thing is over.

    Even the Germans won some battles late in the war. It is not about some successes here and there, it is about overall success in Iraq, and how to bring that about.

    Other than glassing Iran and Saudi Arabia, I don't think you have the first clue as to how to make that happen.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 8:11 PM  

  • PT

    Please, for the sake of conversation, answer the question. What would it look like?

    By Anonymous Arch Stanton, at 11:08 PM  

  • A mess, with less guns and bombs. Maybe more beheadings.

    Now answer this question: what would the world look like without war? Equally as relevant I figure.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 1:03 PM  

  • PT

    Thanks for answering.

    Now as to your question, (extremely relevant): A world without war would look like a world without people. You see as long as there are people, there will always be some ne’erdowell who will want to kill you whether its for the $20.00 in your wallet or because you pray to some other profit, or don’t pray at all. Show me a world with out ne’erdowell’s and I will show you are world without people. Get used to it.

    As to who engages in fantasy, how is it that talking to Iran will do anything? They have said their piece and I take them at their word "wipe Israel off the map and kill Americans". It is in the typical liberal fantasy that all things can be resolved by talking. Well let me tell you. There is a reason that the NAACP doesn’t send an envoy to the KKK. It's because the NAACP actually understands what the KKK is about and they take them at their word.

    Why wont you believe what Iran is saying? They are building bombs to kill you and you want to talk with them? Truly rich.

    By Anonymous Arch Stanton, at 3:10 PM  

  • Thanks for answering.

    Essentially you are saying that a world without war is not possible.

    That was what I was trying to say about Iran and Saudi Arabia's involvement in Iraq: not possible. Both have vested interests there and are involved and will continue to be involved, so the situation must be dealt with.

    I do remember that before the Iraq invation, Iran was undergoing some significant change for the better. Slow, but significant. The rhetoric about killing Americans had not been heard in quite some time. Not to say it was a bed of roses, far from it, but I was a lot less worried than I am now.

    While you see war as the solution, I see it as deeping the problems and risks that are already there.

    So, back to the original question. What to do now in Iraq? Double down? Glass Iran? What do you suggest?

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 4:17 PM  

  • One more thing.

    Yes the world is filled with ne'erdowells. (Jesus what an obscure reference). Do you mean to say that they should all be killed?

    I think you have to learn to live with them and an inhearently imperfect world filled with them, but hey, that's just me.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 2:01 AM  

  • PT

    No I did not mean to imply that we should kill all the ne’er-do-wells. The implication is this; For the most part humans get along with one another and even when we do have disputes with one another there is usually some type of sociological device that falls short of blood-shed that we can use to resolve our differences. However, every once in a while, we get people like David Duke, Ahmadinajahd, OBL, Kim Jung Ill, etc. who are hell bent on fucking it up for the rest of us. If we turn a blind eye to them and don’t take them at their word, we end up with Dachau.

    I will repeat the words of AA

    " The world is a very dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who do nothing about them."

    By Anonymous Arch Stanton, at 3:58 PM  

  • So, back to the original question. What to do now in Iraq? Double down? Glass Iran? What do you suggest?

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 10:53 AM  

  • PT

    First we have to acknowledge who the enemy is. I think the first part of the ISG does this. Do you concur with what I think this first step should be?

    By Anonymous Arch Stanton, at 2:56 PM  

  • I concur, but you can't even define who the enemy is.

    The first part of the ISG lists the players but does not come out and say this one is an enemy and this one is an ally. Take SCIRI for example. Enemy or ally?

    Hard to say.

    Sure, it would be a good first step if anyone could clearly define the enemy, but again this black and white paradigm that you tend to view the world in fails to describe the situation in Iraq.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 3:03 PM  

  • PT

    Your demanding that names be named, and I am the one who has a black and white paradigm???

    Since you agree with the first part of the ISG, could we not in fact use my more general term for who the enemy is...

    The enemy is anyone or group whom actively and/or knowingly seek to destabilize the fledgling democracy in Iraq.

    You see, it is you who are insisting on the black & white here.

    Could you at least acknowledge that regardless of what box you would put them into, the enemy is someone/group who exhibits the aforementioned characteristics?

    By Anonymous Arch Stanton, at 3:23 PM  

  • I'm am engaging in a rhetorical excercise, in case you haven't noticed. You are getting well played this time.

    My whole point is that you can not clearly define who the enemy is. They can not be listed, or defined so easily. Yet President Bush throws around this term "the enemy" and neither he, nor, you, nor I can define what the hell exactly he means by that. Sure, al Qaeda is "an enemy" but certainly they are not "the enemy". If anyone can get beyond a philisophical definition of "the enemy" and actually deliniate who exactly falls into their definition, I'd be impressed.

    It is this black and white paradigm of yours that I am attempting here to shatter as it is, in my view, fictitious.

    The longer you squirm around and avoid naming "the enemy" the stronger my point becomes.

    Thanks for playing.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 12:22 AM  

  • And furthermore,

    You are simply stalling on the real question which is "what to do next in Iraq."

    You've posited an impossible prerequisite to answering the question at hand, and continue to try to move away from the question at hand in typical rhetorical avoidance.

    Do whatever you have to do to answer the question, but get on with it already. I'm getting bored, and people are dying, in case you haven't noticed.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 12:26 AM  

  • Funny,, I thought that was the game I was playing, seeing as how you can not define the behaviour of the enemy. HAHA

    By Anonymous Arch Stanton, at 11:50 PM  

  • Yep,

    See, no one knows. Not you not me, not the Army.

    Kind of like fighting ghosts.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 10:59 AM  

  • I still would like for you to elicit what you believe constitutes enemy behavior. It is only then that we can further the conversation.

    By Anonymous Arch Stanton, at 2:58 PM  

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