OF COURSE, small minds assert that problems in Iraq are "inextricably linked" to the Arab-Israeli conflict - thereby repeating the precise mistake that lead co-chairman James A. Baker, III, made in 1991. He then led the effort to abandon the Persian Gulf and turn to the Palestinians, leaving Saddam Hussein in power for another dozen years and contributing directly to the present mess. In the new report, Baker and his colleagues call for a Palestinian state (#12) and even demand that a final settlement address the Palestinian "right of return" (#17) - code for dismantling the Jewish state. They peremptorily declare that "the Israelis should return the Golan Heights," in return for a US security guarantee (#16).From what I've seen in the President's remarks since the release of the ISG's recommendations and the fact that other study groups are being conducted in the Pentagon, State and the National Security Council, I'm betting wiser heads will prevail and that the more than silly recommendations(Israeli/Palestinian negotiations, talking to Iran and Syria, putting Iran's nuke questing solely in the hands of the UN Security Council) will fall to the wayside for a solution that is more Iraqi centered rather than a "go nice with the neighbors" solution offered by the ISG.
Besides the astonishing conceit of these Olympian declarations, one wonders how exactly the Iraqi civil war would be ended by pleasing Palestinians. Or why the unresolved Arab-Israeli conflict is any more relevant to Iraq than the unresolved Azerbaijani-Armenian conflict, which is closer to Iraq.
To make matters worse, Baker had the nerve to admonish the Bush administration not to treat the report's 79 recommendations "like a fruit salad," choosing one idea while rejecting another, but to accept it as a whole. Even in Washington, a town famous for arrogance, this statement made heads turn. That Baker and his co-chairman sat for a picture spread with famed photographer Annie Liebovitz for Men's Vogue, a fashion magazine, only confirms the vacuity of their effort, as does their hiring the giant public relations firm, Edelman.
In all, the Iraq Study Group Report offers a unique combination of bureaucratic caution, false bi-partisanship, trite analysis, and conventional bromides.
*Check out Jay Ambrose's thoughts on the ISG in his most recent commentary in the Washington Examiner.