Thursday, December 7, 2006

Where are We Going? Where Have We Been?

full transcript of the Iraq Study Group news conference

I get the impression that some of these reporters here have not read the commission. Perhaps they only read the first few pages? The Lee/Hamilton report is pretty specific. Why are some asking questions in this forum about specifics that are discussed at length in the report itself? It appears that all questions and answers addressed points that have already been addressed in the commission report, except this one:

Question: When you recommend something like engaging Iran, which the president has been very clear will only happen after they verifiably suspend [uranium inrichment], it seems to set up the need for the president to pull a 180. Does he have the capacity to do that, in your opinion, sir?

Baker: You know, I've worked for four presidents and I used to get questions all the time: tell me about this president versus that president or the other president. And I never put presidents I worked for on the couch. So I'm not going to answer that, because that would mean I'd have to psychologically analyze the inner workings of his mind. And I don't do that.

Obviously, he didn't answer the question, but he did raise the point that presidents look to other presidents for guidance. Hopefully, Bush will do his homework on the Cold War Era and see that diplomacy works where military offensives do not.

Some pertinent reader comments via email to CNN:

Marshall Krause of San Geronimo, California
The proposed diplomatic solution will not work because President Bush and his advisors are unwilling to make Iran and Syria real partners in the solution... I applaud the report's strong urging that Bush strongly step our effort to get a negotiated and mutually acceptable solution to the Israel/Palestine dispute. This would stabilize the entire area.

I concur with the second part. Our president needs to bring Iran and Syria to the negotiating table, if for no other reason than to show the world that he is capable of making attepts at diplomacy. And please read my post entitled "Full Text Sources for the Unbiased Truth," where I have presented a link to the 2002 Bin Laden Letter to the American People. In it, he makes abundantly clear the issue that arabs have with America's stance vis a vis the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. But the first part, I hope, is no longer true.

Stuart Shepherd of Springfield, Missouri
I feel at this point that a support role is about the only thing the U.S can do. We need to accept the fact that there is no winning this war. If we continue on the present course, this will go on and on for years and deplete our resources that could be directed towards defending our own borders and true homeland security.

It's true, from a historical perspective, that spreading our resources too thin will have grave consequences for America. For all those in disagreement with this, please read the first few pages of "The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: 1500-2000." Countries that lose their place in the global power balance do so because they squander their wealth and have too many global interests at stake which cannot all be supported to the extent necessary to sustain them.

Joe Linares of Feeding Hills, Massachusetts
I took the time to read the document. Well done, well written. Now... Bush needs to take his cowboy boots off, chew a bit on humble pie, roll up his sleeves and get to work. That is what the 2006 elections told him. I have no idea how you are suppose to work with 'your adversaries if you don't talk to them.

Well put.

Ken Salsman of Pleasanton, California
The Iraq Study Group has done a passable job, but they still leave serious questions unanswered that directly impact the viability of their recommendations. While they suggest improving the justice, oil sector and reconstruction, they fail to address how that is possible with the current situation on the ground... Though I applaud the efforts of the study group, and its non-partisan structure, I am left asking why there are no cultural experts on the panel.

Well, I got the impression from reading the document that the three above suggestions will not be plausible without implementation of a broad-reaching diplomatic offensive. I'm sure that the commission does not these goals can be acheived in a vacuum. And it appears that the first step is getting all of the players to the table for discussions. This cannot happen overnight, obviously. I agree with this person's opinion that there should have been a cultural expert on the panel. America seems to not quite grasp the fundamental interests of all players in the Middle East, or the more subtle power struggles at play. Someone who truly understands the people of the region might have added a different and beneficial element to the commission.

Dean Yorgey of Alexandria, Virginia
Any plan that indicates we should remove our combat troops while we leave others to train the Iraqi Army is an invitation for another disaster. Our remaining troops would be kidnapped and murdered. The statement that, "we will stand down when the Iraqi Army stands up," is wishful thinking at best.

This is a very good point and should not be taken lightly. As far as I understand, the U.S. provided funds and armaments to the Afghanis during their war with the Soviets. Many of the arms that we supplied are being used against us now. Given the horrendous instability of the region, we should be very cautious about the underlying interests of the people whom we are supporting

Mark Aoki of Honolulu, Hawaii
The report is dangerous and incompetent in its recommendations. Sectarian violence will not stop until the combatants are separated. Iraq needs to be partitioned into a federation of Iraqi states controlled by a central government... The police forces in such areas would be immediately effective as they would be protecting their own, and it would employ and focus the entire nation.

This is a very iteresting point. Iraq was created at the end of WWII, and it could easily be partitioned again if everyone agrees that it's the best way forward. There are obviously regional implications for both plans, but it appears that the commission, after considering that approach, doesn't think it's the best idea. They cite the Kurds' fear of being overrun by another nation, and Turkey supports the Kurdish people. I will do more research in this area.

Patrick Story of Portland, Oregon
Based on my reading of the report so far, it appears to be the same old self-serving line from our ruling elite. As for our rescue by Syria and Iran, they have every reason to continue to stand aside and let Bush's elective war and occupation run their course to complete U.S. demoralization and impending bankruptcy.

I disagree with this post. First of all, it was a bipartisan commission. And secondly, I believe that too often people don't take the past and present into account in making judment calls about our policies. While I agree that American neo-imperialism has gotten us into this mess, we cannot separate ourselves from our interests and the interests of the Middle East. The commission report addresses this. Iran and Syria both have a direct interest in the stability of Iraq if for no other reason than they ultimately want peace within their own borders; both countries share a large border with Iraq, and a spillover of the Iraq mess into their countries would be detrimental to them. Please refer to page 50 of the commission report.

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