Monster birth born out of disaster
Let’s face it. Far from being a unified plan for turning around the disaster of Iraq, the Iraq Study Group Report is a desperate grab-bag of possible solutions, any of which may or may not be effective.
For example, under Recommendation 62 we read:
Protective measures could include a program to improve pipeline security by paying local tribes solely on the basis of throughput (rather than fixed amounts).
This is an interesting short-term part-solution to a specific problem (security of oil supplies), and one that laudably addresses the realities on the ground largely neglected by the war ‘planners’ — in this instance, of the tribal divisions in Iraq.
In the longer term, however, this measure would do nothing to foster sorely needed national unity. Rather, it aims to exploit those divisions, effectively encouraging and rewarding them.
The most immediate problem for the US, of course, is its military involvement in the mire of Iraqi sectarian warfare: In short, the problem of how to get the hell out with its honour, credibility and strategic interests intact.
Greg Palast has taken a dim view of the ISG’s recommendations. Just on one angle:
Keeping 140,000 troops in Iraq is a disaster getting more disastrous. The Baker Boys’ idea: cut the disaster in half — leave 70,000 troops there.
And so on.
If the US and her allies were hoping for a magic fix out of the ISG Report, the reality is that it presents no such thing. President Bush, perhaps for his own political and pragmatic reasons, has distanced his administration from the Report’s ‘findings’.
The only hope may be for some smart operator in the administration to cherry pick the best of the Recommendations, and apply them judiciously to minimise the damage to US interests and prestige. Other than that, a pull-out — precipitate or not — could well be unavoidable.