By its own admission, the Iraq Study Group (ISG) has submitted a "flawed" report to the president, to Congress and to the American people.
While the report properly calls for the Iraqi government to do more to reconcile warring factions, take greater control over its defense and defeat insurgent-terrorists, the ISG falls into a trap set by panel co-chair James Baker, who has long believed that what the United States and Israel do determines the behavior of unelected dictators and religious fanatics.
"Given the ability of Iran and Syria to influence events within Iraq and their interest in avoiding chaos in Iraq," the report says, "the United States should try to engage them constructively." The ISG must not have noticed that Iran and Syria are largely responsible for destabilizing Baghdad. Syria is simultaneously using its Hezbollah proxy to undermine the elected Lebanese government. What possible reason would Iran and Syria have to stabilize Iraq so that the United States can leave behind a free nation? Iran and Syria would see a free Iraq as a threat to their own dictatorial regimes.
Here's another flaw, straight from the familiar Baker playbook: "The United States cannot achieve its goals in the Middle East unless it deals directly with the Arab-Israeli conflict and regional instability." Among other things, that means "a commitment to a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine." Leaving aside the historical argument that Israel is Palestine, that approach has been tried (and has failed) over several administrations. That is because the only formula the "Palestinian" side will accept is one that obliterates the state of Israel.
There are noble calls for cooperation between Republicans and Democrats and between the White House and Congress, but the problem is not on our side. It's on the other side. The ISG failed to deal with the religious motivations of those who believe their God wants us dead and who have no qualms about devising weapons of mass destruction to wipe out millions of us. "Infidel" diplomats are not about to influence dictators and mullahs who believe their "holy book" commands them to lie to the "cross worshippers" and "crusaders" in their own crusade for world dominance by force.
Weak European governments, which are busy capitulating to their growing Muslim populations, won't help us. Neither will Russia and China, which need oil and don't think much of America. What kind of "diplomacy" will work to bring them onboard?
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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