How the Iraq Study Group’s recommendations embolden our enemy.
Headed by former Secretary of State James Baker and former Rep. Lee Hamilton, the Iraq Study Group issued its highly anticipated report yesterday, stating that the “situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating” and “violence is increasing in scope and lethality.” So far, the obvious. While not an absolute failure, as some analysts assert, the ISG report is nonetheless a self-contradictory mix of recommendations that affirms some of President Bush’s Iraq policy in the short term, while threatening to undermine the War on Terror by calling for a “new diplomatic offensive”  that will only empower Iran, Syria and, by extension, their terrorist proxies who are responsible for the “scope and lethality” of Iraqi violence. It suggests American troops may begin redeploying, setting an estimated date of early 2008. This will only
add credence to leftist demands that Bush withdrawal troops even sooner, leading to the fall of Baghdad, a terrorist rampage, new fodder for terrorist recruitment, and a low point for American prestige unmatched since Vietnam.
Already, terrorists are rejoicing at the report, calling the new plan a victory for “Islamic resistance.” Hamas asset Abu Abdullah exclaimed, “The big superpower of the world is defeated by a small group of mujahedeen. Did you see the mujahedeens' clothes and weapons in comparison with the huge individual military arsenal and supply that was carrying every American soldier?” In this, he sounds very much like Osama bin Laden's assessment of Vietnam, Beirut, and Mogadishu.
Pro-American Iraqi politicians, working to establish a non-sectarian democracy in the midst of the Muslim world, expressed their dismay at the plan. Kurdish parliamentarian Mahmud Othman responded with outrage: “They have no right to do this. This is unfair.” A leading advisor to Prime Minister al-Maliki said the U.S. has an obligation to support Iraq “all the way,” adding, “We need their support to go forward.”
Ironically, the ISG affirms its support of the Iraqi democracy: “We agree with the goal of U.S. policy in Iraq.”  Elsewhere, the authors reject an immediate troop withdrawal,  which in itself rebuffs the antiwar Left and much of the Democratic leadership (Murtha, Pelosi, Kerry, and others).
Although the report avoids confirming the prejudices of the antiwar Left in terms of withdrawal, its recommendation that the Bush administration reverse policy in regard to Iran and Syria mistakes the nature and interests of the enemy we face. On this count, moreover, the study actually contradicts itself, since it says at another point that promoting unrest in Iraq allows Iran to frustrate American aims in the region. The report calls for the immediate launch of a “diplomatic offensive” to engage Iran and Syria by appealing to “their interest in avoiding chaos in Iraq.”  However, bogging our forces down in Iraq and focusing international attention on the supposed failure of U.S. foreign policy particularly suits Iranian and Syrian interests. Chaos in Iraq only deflects international attention from Iran’s nuclear program as well as Iran and Syria’s covert war against Lebanon and Israel, through its terror proxy Hezbollah. For these reasons, Iran has worked so diligently to further chaos in Iraq. Why would anyone presume that they would change their way when their strategy is fnally paying off?
The other option that the report gives for engaging these two terror regimes is the use of incentives. But we have already offered both countries various economic incentives, which they have spurned. On top of this, believing that “incentives” or “disincentives” can influence Islamist fanatics like Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who avow that the United States must submit to Islam or be destroyed, is folly. Rewarding the leading state sponsors of terrorism for facilitating the killing of Americans is a recipe for increased militancy, as the terrorsts' reactions demonstrate.
The report also ridiculously demands a “sustained commitment by the United States to a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace,” including a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine.  How settling a sixty-year-old Arab-Jewish dispute will settle a civil war between Muslim sectarians, fueled by Iran and Syria, defies comprehension. Nor does it make sense to push for a two-state solution at a time when the Palestinians have so clearly demonstrated, in Gaza in particular, that they will merely convert any acquired territory into a staging ground for their own terrorist war against Israel. There have, in fact, been reports of al-Qaeda assets in “Palestine.”
The Left’s unremitting criticism of a war its elected officials voted to launch, fueled by its hatred of President Bush personally, has spread dissatisfaction throughout the nation and amplified the calls of those who demand we get out. Their rhetorical success has forced the president to consider quick solutions in Iraq. President Bush has repeatedly told the American public that Iraq is part of a long War on Terror, requiring sacrifice and patience. It will take time to stabilize Iraq and fend off our enemies. To declare failure and urge a significant retreat by 2008 when Iraq’s present government has only been six months in office will only embolden our enemy and hand Iraqis into the hands of those who seek to perpetrate a massive bloodbath before establishing a new Caliphate, from whence they may export terrorism to new vistas. At this stage, it will be the greatest folly for us to abandon this central front in the War on Terror and, along with it, the hope for democracy in the Middle East.
Frontpage Magazine's Managing Editor Ben Johnson and Senior Editor Jacob Laksin contributed to this report.
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1. p. 14.
2. p. 40.
3. p. 73.
4. p. 15.
5. pp. 54-55.