that is the best way to describe the majority of the baker/hamilton commission (ISG) report. it is long on analysis, and short on workable solutions. full text here(pdf). the most delusional part of this report is the part where the authors insist that neighboring countries such as iran and syria really do want a stable iraq. not only that, but if the united states would just sit down with them and talk to them, they would be willing to help us with stabilizing iraq.
look at recommendation 12 for example. it says:
The United States and the Support Group should encourage and persuade Syria of the merit of such contributions as the following:
Syria can control its border with Iraq to the maximum extent possible and work together with Iraqis on joint patrols on the border. Doing so will help stem the flow of funding, insurgents, and terrorists in and out of Iraq.
Syria can establish hotlines to exchange information with the Iraqis.
Syria can increase its political and economic cooperation with Iraq.
i can tell you without help from any commission how well this would work. concessions are only given when the opposition is in a position of strength, like the united states was after the initial invasion of iraq. that’s not where we are now.
even though the ISG acknowledges to some degree that iran is causing some of the instability, it still insists that iran could be persuaded to help us.
look at these recommendations:
RECOMMENDATION 10: The issue of Irans nuclear programs should continue to be dealt with by the United Nations Security Council and its five permanent members (i.e., the United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia, and China) plus Germany.
brilliant. great idea. more talking and listening, but no effective threats of punishments or sanctions. that will show mahmoud ahmadinejad who’s boss.
RECOMMENDATION 11: Diplomatic efforts within the Support Group should seek to persuade Iran that it should take specific steps to improve the situation in Iraq.
Among steps Iran could usefully take are the following:
Iran should stem the flow of equipment, technology, and training to any group resorting to violence in Iraq.
Iran should make clear its support for the territorial integrity of Iraq as a unified state, as well as its respect for the sovereignty of Iraq and its government.
Iran can use its influence, especially over Shia groups in Iraq, to encourage national reconciliation.
Iran can also, in the right circumstances, help in the economic reconstruction of Iraq.
again, what does iran get out of the deal? concessions from the rest of the international community? acceptance of its nuclear ambitions? there would be a heavy price to be paid by the rest of the world to get iran’s help with iraq. the same is true with syria.
do we want to do what it would require to get the help of these two countries? that would be very unwise. it is a game we can’t afford to play. surrender is never is a good solution.
Half Baked – NRO editorial
Blogging the Release of the Baker Commission Report’s Recommendations– vital perspective (h/t atlas)
Asking for chaos –frederick kagan (nydn)
Grading the Report— dean barnett (townhall)