Aren’t you glad the codgers on the Iraq Study Group had such a fabulous time getting to know each other?

“Whatever the final impact of the Iraq Study Group report being issued today,” coos columnist David Broder in today’s Washington Post, “for the 10 commission members this was an exhilarating experience, a demonstration of genuine bipartisanship that they hope will serve as an example to the broader political world.

“‘It was a very wonderful experience,’ former Republican senator Al Simpson of Wyoming told me last weekend. ‘We very quickly stopped considering ourselves as Republicans and Democrats, but as Americans trying to deal with a most urgent problem.'”

Gosh, as long as they had a good time, that?s what matters. Hey, Leon, Vernon, let’s do lunch and be Wise Men together. (Please do read the entire Broder column — a plea I rarely make. Humor me. It’s hilarious.)

Bush bashers, long awaiting the report with bated breath, will not be disappointed. James Baker takes a not-so-subtle jab at George Bush’s rhetoric. But what they love is all that delicious stuff about “deterioration” and “chaos.” Rapture!

Unfortunately, the report appears to be “as bad as advertised,” as Powerline puts it. It urges diplomatic talks with Syria and Iran. Powerline:

“The best the ‘wise men’ can come up with is to have our worst enemies try to help us stabilize Iraq. And, apparently, the primary inducement will be to pressure Israel into creating a Palestinian state (as if Iran really cares about that). It’s difficult to say which is more pronounced, the craven nature of this recommendation or its lack of realism.”

What concessions will we make to these oppressive nations? Let’s see. Syria wants Lebanon and Iran wants nukes. Oh, and do we get to mention that these two states are fomenting a lot of the violence in Iraq, or is that undiplomatic?

The report, without naming names (would that be undiplomatic?) does allude to this very fact:

“No country in the region will benefit in the long term from a chaotic Iraq. Yet Iraq’s neighbors are not doing enough to help Iraq achieve stability. Some are undercutting stability.”


Military historian Ralph Peters, writing in the Weekly Standard, sees the ISG for what it really is — and it’s not “realists,” as they love being known. He compares them to the Congress of Vienna, trying to patch up a failed order. Stability at any price might be the motto.

“THE SUPERANNUATED membership of the Iraq Study Group shepherded by former secretary of state James Baker,” writes Peters, “conjures a line from the film The Sixth Sense: ‘I see dead people.? Two centuries ago, Europeans dreaming of reform and freedom must have felt just as crestfallen as they watched their continent?s ghoulish elder statesmen gather for the Congress of Vienna. Both assemblies symbolize a victory for the ancien regime, the bloody-minded refusal to accept that the world has changed profoundly and will continue to change.

“If the Baker commission is the K-Mart version of the Congress of Vienna, its influence may prove no less pernicious. Baker is the dean emeritus of a reactionary school of diplomats–inaccurately labeled ‘realists’–whose support of the shah of Iran, the Saudi royal family, Anwar Sadat, then Hosni Mubarak, and, not least, Saddam Hussein delivered short-term stability that proved illusory in the long run. It was the “realist” elevation of stability above all other strategic factors–echoing Prince Metternich–that gave us not only the radical regime in Iran, but, ultimately, al Qaeda and 9/11.