Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Delusional Style in American Politics (Apologies To Hofstadter)

The looming irrelevancy which is the Iraq Study Group will be presenting their report next Wednesday. The final report is said to be finished, and what is alleged to be the main points have been leaked to the press.

As long expected, a diplomatic initiative said to involve Iran and Syria in helping to use their influence with Iraqi Shiites is one of the main recommendations.

But there is more:

Although the diplomatic strategy takes up the majority of the report, it was the military recommendations that prompted the most debate, people familiar with the deliberations said. They said a draft report put together under the direction of Mr. Baker and Mr. Hamilton had collided with another, circulated by other Democrats on the commission, that included an explicit timeline calling for withdrawal of the combat brigades to be completed by the end of next year. In the end, the two proposals were blended. ...

If Mr. Bush adopts the recommendations, far more American training teams will be embedded with Iraqi forces, a last-ditch effort to make the Iraqi Army more capable of fighting alone. That is a step already embraced in a memorandum that Stephen J. Hadley, the national security adviser, wrote to the president this month.

"I think everyone felt good about where we ended up," one person involved in the commission's debates said after the group ended its meeting. "It is neither 'cut and run' nor 'stay the course.'"

Yep, another centrist approach. Just what we need.

Committee members struggled with ways, short of a deadline, to signal to the Iraqis that Washington would not prop up the government with military forces endlessly, and that if sectarian warfare continued the pressure to withdraw American forces would become overwhelming. What they ended up with appears to be a classic Washington compromise: a report that sets no explicit timetable but, between the lines, appears to have one built in.

As one senior American military officer involved in Iraq strategy said, "The question is whether it doesn't look like a timeline to Bush, and does to Maliki."

It is really remarkable that advisors have to craft policy prescriptions so that President Bush needn't be disabused of his delusional style of leadership.


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