Get Your Fresh ISG Backlash Here!
It's time for across-ideological-boundaries backlash for the Iraq Study Group! Obscure headline, but it's all my creation, I hope you get it.
SHOULDN'T MAKING THE MISTAKE -- NOT JUST FIXING IT -- BE BIPARTISAN, TOO?
East Valley Tribune, Dec. 10, 2006
It was "hooray for bipartisanship" week in Washington, as the wise men and woman of the Iraq Study Group finally issued their long-awaited report. The report is quite definite about our serious, and increasing, problems in Iraq. On solutions, it’s backside-covering mush, but it’s not like anybody else has a better plan.
The report is quite stark on the problems with Bush administration’s policy and the grimness of the current situation. Forget all the happy talk and Bush’s plan-of-the-month club. Whether it’s stay the course or stay the course-light or even barbeque-flavored-stay-the-course, the situation in Iraq is "grave" and "deteriorating." And, you’ll note, this occurred before Nancy Pelosi becomes Speaker of the House, so don’t blame her.
All you people who insisted that the media was exaggerating the problems in Iraq, that the reality was better than the "if-it-bleeds-it-leads" reporting, and that the day of glorious victory is just around the corner? You’re wrong.
The wise guys and gal, on page 94, said that the Bush administration has engaged in "significant under-reporting of the violence in Iraq" due to a tracking system designed to minimize Iraqi deaths. The reporting standards excluded attacks on Iraqis where the source could not be readily determined; attacks not resulting in U.S. casualties also weren’t counted. The ISG’s conclusion: "Good policy is difficult to make when information is systematically collected in a way that minimizes its discrepancy with policy goals."
That may be a bit opaque for lay readers, so let me translate into plainer English: In the Bush administration, when reality differs from ideology, it’s reality that’s biased.
The ISG report’s recommendations, however, are easily picked apart, mainly because there really aren’t any good options left. Conservatives demand that we try harder to win, but except in comic books, strength of will doesn’t win wars; I’d rather depend on technical expertise, sufficient forces and firepower, and having a competent strategy. Next time, try having the basics covered before starting a war, and let willpower take care of itself.
It’s not particularly troublesome that the ISG recommendations don’t seem militarily realistic, and are sufficiently vague that they could be used to justify immediately withdrawing combat troops or increasing the U.S. commitment. It’s also not practical to imagine the FBI and Justice and State Departments suddenly placing thousands of career bureaucrats into body armor and Arabic-language courses to help create a functioning Iraqi civil society. It’s also plainly foreseeable that President Bush won’t adopt many of these recommendations, even when they called it a "diplomatic offensive" hoping that sounds more macho than asking the administration to talk to other countries for their help.
No, what bothers me is all this folderol about wise men, bipartisanship, and comity. David Broder went over the edge when he described the members of the ISG as having undergone "an exhilarating experience, a demonstration of genuine bipartisanship that they hope will serve as an example to the broader political world."
Yes, isn’t it wonderful? We created an evenly-balanced (5 Republicans and 5 Democrats, 9 men and 1 woman, 9 whites and 1 black -- that’s balance for you!) commission and let them solve all our problems in a bipartisan, polite, unanimous way. Apparently, the only thing more important than democracy is civility.
Yes, bipartisanship is such a wonderful thing. Just think how useful this structure could have been only a few years ago. Instead of that nasty, partisan, and contentious impeachment, we could have convened a similar group, evenly balanced between Republicans and Democrats. They could have investigated President Clinton in secret then, with great fanfare, issued a report that would have been a model of civility and unanimity, coming up with a way to disapprove of his behavior without, well, making an unseemly fuss.
Now that Bush has thoroughly messed up Iraq far beyond the powers of even James Baker to fix, now you want bipartisan civility? Kids, you should have thought of that during the last president’s term.