The Iraq Study Group report has been released. I won’t have time to do much analysis for a while, but here are a few preliminary observations:
As far as I can tell, there’s no major shift in strategy. There’s no call for immediate withdrawal, which will undoubtedly annoy the radical anti-war left.
At the same time, most of the recommendations seem mushy. I’ve heard the ISG report as being “a 360 degree about-face” — so far, that seems fairly accurate.
Solving the Arab-Israeli conflict has nothing to do with Iraq. The Palestinians are mere pawns and justifications for Arab anti-Semitism. Short of Israel being destroyed, there won’t be a solution to this problem until the racism of the Arab world subsides. That will take generations. Any hope of a negotiated settlement is utterly futile unless there’s a radical change to Palestinian attitudes — and the chances of that are slim to none. I know that this is Secretary Baker’s pet cause, but it doesn’t belong here and it represents a major strategic distraction to the real issues.
Negotiating with Syria and Iran is likewise pointless. Their interests are in carving up Iraq, not making it a pluralist democracy. We can’t expect them to negotiate in good faith, and unless they make some move (like closing their borders with Iraq to terrorists) then the whole point of negotiations is futile. Iran is part of the enemy we face, and we need to realize that fast.
The Executive Summary argues that if the Iraqi government doesn’t shape up, we should ship out. That’s all well and good, but if they don’t succeed we can’t leave Iraq a petri dish for terrorism. If we’re going to make that threat, it has to be credible, and al-Maliki knows that we can’t make a credible threat without hurting ourselves.