A friend of mine went to a Christmas party and excitedly reported back that most of “the Study Group” was there. Ah, “the Study Group,” our new social lions.  

The Iraq Study Group is all the rage in Washington this week — their report says exactly what so many people in town have waited so long to hear from an official (or quasi official) source: We’re losing in Iraq. Yes, the Study Group is Santa Claus for Bush bashers.

Military historian Ralph Peters also sees the Christmas connection. His column today is headlined, “Frankly Incensed: Unwise Men Bear Gifts for Butchers.” Peters writes:

“Former Secretary of State James Baker and his panelists are trying to shore up the failing regional system that their generation designed. Released yesterday, their report doesn’t offer ‘a new way forward.’ Its recommendations echo past failures. And it shows no sense of how gravely the world has changed.

“The report doesn’t offer a plan, but a muddle of truisms and truly bad ideas.”

The report, which Peters says basically reflects the Saudi view of how to control the region (Peters suggests an index listing Baker’s business contacts with the Saudis), calls for negotiations with Syria and Iran. Peters notes:

“Asking for help from Iran and Syria would only embolden them. And the last thing we need to do is to further encourage Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in his belief that Iran and the Shia faith are predestined to dominate the region. As for Syria, Bashar Assad needs a whipping, not a reward.”

The report comes out the very week we note another attack on America — Pearl Harbor Day is today. That is a war we fought as if we knew we had to win — or else. Victor Davis Hanson reflects on the differences between our national modus operandi in that war and in this one:

“A stronger, far more affluent United States believes it can use less of its power against the terrorists than a much poorer America did against the formidable Japanese and Germans.

“World War II, which saw more than 400,000 Americans killed, was not nearly as controversial or frustrating as one that has so far taken less than one-hundredth of that terrible toll.

“And after Pearl Harbor, Americans believed they had no margin of error in an elemental war for survival. Today, we are apparently convinced that we can lose ground, whether in Afghanistan or Iraq, and still not lose either the war or our civilization.

“Of course, by 1945, Americans no longer feared another Pearl Harbor. Yet, we, in a far stronger and larger United States, are still not sure we won’t see another Sept. 11.”