Isn’t the main problem with the Iraq Study Group that it’s just majorly lame? Almost anybody could crank out this kind of generalized boilerplate (“We were told by a general/a translator/my taxi driver/my Ukrainian hooker…”), and most of us could do it without a budget of gazillions of dollars and an Annie Leibovitz photo session.
Of course, Syria “should” do this and Iran “should” do that and, if they were Sandra Day O’Connor, I’m sure they would. But they’re not. And the only specific strategic proposal is a linkage between Iraq and a “renewed and sustained commitment” to a “comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace” – which concedes the same ludicrous rationale that the Saudi King Abdullah and all the rest of them make: that one tiny ten-mile sliver of Jews is the reason why millions of Muslims from the Straits of Gibraltar to the Emirates are mired in dictatorships, failed economies and jihadist fever. For the Baker group to endorse this clapped out pan-Arabism is disgusting. An “Arab-Israeli peace”? What does that mean? What exactly is Israel doing to Iraq, or Tunisia, or Qatar, or any other Arabs except those in the “Palestinian territories”? To frame it in those terms is to adopt the pathologies of the enemy. Shame on Baker, Hamilton and all the rest.
As for the insight on page 94 that so impressed Rich, yes, it’s true that the DIA and other analytical agencies don’t have a lot of strength in depth. But why is that? It’s certainly not because the US taxpayer isn’t showering them with dollars. It’s to do with a bureaucratic torpor that has proved almost totally resistant to any attempts to reform it since 9/11. And, while we may well “engage” with Syria and Iran to no effect, and US troops may well put their left foot in and take their right foot out, the one thing you can guarantee won’t be shaken all about is the torpid bureaucracy – of which this stillborn report is yet one more example