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"An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last."
Sir Winston Churchill


Sense and Nonsense on the War

J-Pod, brutally frank:

YES, it's been quite a week for the 10 members of the Iraq Study Group, the committee formed last spring to offer recommendations on a path forward in Iraq.

They had a wonderfully invigorating leak session the other day with The New York Times, which was the first recipient of the group's key top-level save-America recommendation. Co-chairmen James "Is There An Arab Dictator Nearby Whose Butt I Can Kiss" Baker and Lee "Yes, I'm Still Alive" Hamilton didn't even bother to pretend to brief the president or key lawmakers first.

The president could wait his turn. After all, this is the Iraq Study Group we're talking about here, buddy. Even the mighty Times was probably kept waiting for its leak, since the only person who could not be kept waiting was Annie Leibovitz, celebrity photographer nonpareil.

As Dana Milbank reports in The Washington Post, on Monday the group's "co-chairmen, James Baker and Lee Hamilton, found time . . . to pose for an Annie Leibovitz photo shoot for Men's Vogue."

The value of Annie Leibovitz's pictorial scoop might have been reduced somewhat when the president scornfully consigned the Iraq Study Group to the ash-heap of history yesterday with a single dismissive sentence during his press conference in Jordan: "This business about 'graceful exit' just simply has no realism to it whatsoever."

Baker, Hamilton and their crew of old Washington hands (and I mean old, like Metheuselah-level old) are recommending a "gradual pullback" of American troops but without a timetable. That basically translates into a nice, long, slow defeat - the "graceful exit" of which the president spoke so harshly.

As one of the study group's members told the Times yesterday, "We had to move the national debate from 'whether to stay the course' to 'how do we start down the path out'."

This is the consensus view of the Iraq Study Group, which is very proud that it reached consensus.

Its members also reached a consensus view that Depends is a really fine brand of adult diaper, and that they love reruns of "Murder, She Wrote."

His buddies at National Review more or less agree:

This is just a dressed-up surrender in Iraq. As soon as the U.S. began such a redeployment, the security situation would worsen and the political environment would further deteriorate. It would become clearer that the anti-American Moqtada al-Sadr had bet correctly against us, and he would have a chance of commanding the most effective fighting force left standing in Iraq. The theory is that a U.S. withdrawal to bases would pressure Prime Minister Maliki to begin to crack down on the militias and purge the extremists in his midst. But the opposite would likely be the case. The men with guns would be more empowered — and they aren’t the moderates. Maliki might not be the most adept politician, but he would be able to see — and unfortunately, probably already has — which way the wind was blowing, and would tilt even further toward Sadr.

Cliff May concurs:

The controversy over whether the U.S. should talk with Iran and Syria begs the question: What would we say? More specifically, what are we willing to offer in exchange for cooperation — and what are we prepared to threaten if our conflict with these regimes continues?

Psychoanalysts may believe in talking cures. But a gaggle of diplomats from hostile nations sitting around chewing the fat is unlikely to produce useful results. More than a century ago, President Theodore Roosevelt observed: “Diplomacy is utterly useless where there is no force behind it.”

As does Charles Krauthammer:

The key to progress is political change within Iraq. The newest fashion, however, is to go “regional,” engaging Iran and Syria in order to have them pull our chestnuts out of the fire. This idea rests on the notion that both Iran and Syria have an interest in stability in Iraq.

Very hardheaded realist terms: interest, stability, regional powers. But stringing them together to suggest that Iran and Syria share our interests in stability is the height of fantasy. In fact, Iran and Syria have an overriding interest in chaos in Iraq — which is precisely why they each have been abetting the insurgency and fanning civil war.

Perhaps in some long-term future they will want a stable Iraq as a tame client state of the Syria-Iran axis. For now, they want chaos. What in God’s name will a negotiation with them yield?

Colin Powell, ever the appeaser and ventriloquist dummy for Saudi interests, disagrees:

Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell does not believe the United States will attack Iran and says Washington should speak to Tehran and Syria.

Powell, who said Iraq was in a civil war on Wednesday, was speaking to the Leaders in London Business Forum on Thursday.

Answering a question from Reuters, Powell said: "Iran is a regional power and it will have to be dealt with. We should find ways to speak to them and also speak to the Syrians."

Both Iran and Syria have been accused by the U.S. government of sponsoring terrorism and fomenting violence in Iraq. Iran has also been accused of trying to build nuclear weapons. Both countries deny the accusations.

"I hope that over time Iran will play a responsible part in the region," he said. "As you know Iran is doing very well now, they have no particular pressure on their nuclear program."

He said he could not speak for the administration of President Bush but he could not see any circumstances which would cause a military conflict between the United States and Iran.

"We all agree that it's not a good thing for Iran to develop their nuclear program if it could develop nuclear weapons, but the United States is not going to attack Iran," he said.

Hmmm, whom to believe?

The mullahs don't seem quite so cuddly as Baker, Powell, and the other self-proclaimed "realists" believe, especially given they're a) killing Americans in Iraq right now and b) seeking more effective ways to do so which would wipe our cities off the map.

But then, I'm not an "eminence grise" like these two utterly useless gentlemen.

And I surely haven't taken anywhere near as many gifts from Prince Bandar and family.


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