On Wednesday, an unelected, unaccountable and substantially unqualified commission will formally report what hasn’t already been leaked about its recommendations with respect to the conflict in Iraq. The title of the commission is the Iraq Study Group (ISG). Given the nature of its contribution, a better name would be the Iraq Surrender Group.*
Led by former Secretary of State James Baker and former Rep. Lee Hamilton, the ISG’s members have reportedly decided that the United States must withdraw its forces from Iraq, that we must start doing so in substantial numbers by 2008 and that we have to open negotiations with Iran and its wholly owned subsidiary, Syria.
An early indication of the way in which this bipartisan diktat will be received in official Washington can be seen in the vacuous response of the incoming chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Sen. Joseph Biden announced over the weekend that the President should accept the surrender commission’s report – even before its complete contents become known.
The good news is that George W. Bush has made known, both publicly and privately, that he has no intention of surrendering to our Islamofascist and other enemies in Iraq. He understands something that has evidently eluded the ISG’s worthies: We are in a global war and that, if we run from Iraq, there is nowhere to hide.
Mr. Bush insists that withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq will be tied to success – not compelled by failure. And he has declared that he will not negotiate with the two countries most responsible for the proxy war (not to be confused with a “civil” war) going on in Iraq today: Iran and its puppet, Syria.
The bad news is that there are persistent leaks to the effect that these Shermanesque statements are to be taken with the same grain of salt as Mr. Bush’s declared determination pre-election to keep Donald Rumsfeld at the Pentagon for the duration of his term. It is not good for the Free World to have such uncertainty about the word of the President of the United States.
An early indication of whether President Bush will embrace the Baker commission’s plan for surrender may come as early as today [Tuesday] when the man he subsequently selected to replace Mr. Rumsfeld, former CIA Director Robert Gates, appears before the Senate Armed Services Committee for his confirmation hearing. Mr. Gates was, until his nomination, a member of the Iraq Study Group and, presumably, was comfortable with the thrust of its findings.
We know for certain that the President’s new Pentagon chief is in favor of at least the most alarming of these – the idea of opening direct negotiations with Iran in the interest of facilitating a “regional approach” to the conflict in Iraq. His enthusiasm for this idea goes back at least to 2004 when he co-chaired with Zbigniew Bzrezinski a task force of the Council on Foreign Relations that endorsed “engaging” Iran.
It can only be hoped that at least some Senators will explore this idea with Mr. Gates. Sadly, most of them seem more interested in getting Mr. Rumsfeld out the door than assuring his relief is up to the job. Still, they have an obligation to examine with care why the nominee thinks the United States can usefully negotiate with a regime like that of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad given the latter’s public embrace of the following positions:
This sampler of the Iranian president’s vitriol is hardly exhaustive. But it is illustrative of an inescapable fact: We are confronting an Iranian regime that is determined to destroy this country and other freedom-loving peoples. It is one thing if Jim Baker and his unaccountable gang have convinced themselves and irresponsible politicians on both sides of the aisle that we must “be willing to negotiate with our enemies” in order to secure the political fig leaf needed to obscure our surrender in Iraq.
It is an altogether different thing, however, for the President of the United States to embrace such an idea. If the President is, indeed, determined not to surrender in Iraq and, thereby, to avoid inexorably setting in train dire repercussions worldwide, Mr. Bush had better make sure that the man to whom he is entrusting his key national security portfolio, Bob Gates, will follow his direction – not that of Jim Baker.
Frank Gaffney Jr. is the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy and author of War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World .
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