Thursday, December 07, 2006

Iraq Study Group

The Iraq Study Group, led by former Secretary of State James Baker and former Congressman Lee Hamilton, released its report yesterday. President Bush wasted no time indicating that he will ignore key elements of their recommendations, saying in regard to the report's call for direct negotiations with Iran and Syria, "I don't think Jim Baker and Lee Hamilton expect us to accept every recommendation."

However, Bush's statement stands in direct contradiction to the tail end of the executive summary of the report itself: "It is the unanimous view of the Iraq Study Group that these recommendations offer a new way forward for the United States in Iraq and the region. They are comprehensive and need to be implemented in a coordinated fashion. They should not be separated or carried out in isolation. The dynamics of the region are as important to Iraq as events within Iraq." [emphasis added]

Secretary Baker put it very succinctly when he pointed out that for a half-century the United States engaged in diplomacy with the Soviet Union, despite its oft-stated intent to wipe the U.S. off the map. I cannot fathom this attitude by the Bush faction, shared by right-wing talk-radio pundits, that diplomacy is a reward for good behavior, to be doled out only as a favor to friends and well-behaved countries. The security of the United States and of the world depends centrally on diplomacy with our adversaries. Diplomacy is cheaper and more effective than military power in building our long-term security.

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