"The situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating," declares the Iraq Study Group in the lead sentence of its long-awaited report.
It continues on in this grim vein:
"A slide toward chaos could trigger the collapse of Iraq's government and a humanitarian disaster. ... There is no guarantee for success in Iraq. The situation in Baghdad and several provinces is dire. ... Pessimism is pervasive. ... Violence is increasing in scope, complexity and lethality."
This is the portrait of a nation descending into hell.
Yet the brutal honesty of the Baker-Hamilton commission about the situation in Iraq is accompanied by recommendations that are almost utopian in their unreality.
For, after painting its grim portrait, the commission says that if we faithfully follow its recommendations, "terrorism will be dealt a blow, stability will be enhanced in an important part of the world, and America's credibility, interests and values will be protected."
What is its principal recommendation? That the United States begin to pull all its forces out of combat and out of Iraq by early 2008, and turn the war over to the Iraqi army and police.
But if 150,000 U.S. Marines and Army troops have failed in four years to defeat al-Qaida, the Sunni insurgency, the Mahdi Army, the sectarian militias and the criminal elements of Iraq, how is the Iraqi army going to succeed?
Are we to believe that rag-tag army is going to win a war the finest army on earth has all but lost?
Is this what they call "realism"?
The report itself describes the Iraqi army, after years of U.S. training, as having made "fitful progress toward becoming a reliable and disciplined fighting force loyal to the national government."
"Units lack leadership. ... Units lack equipment. ... Units lack personnel. ... Units lack logistics and support."
Is this the force U.S. advisers are going to convert in a year into an army of salvation?
Well, not entirely. They will be assisted by the Iraqi police, of whom the report writes: "The state of the Iraqi police is substantially worse than that of the Iraqi army. ...
"Iraqi police cannot control crime, and they routinely engage in sectarian violence, including the unnecessary detention, torture and targeted execution of Sunni Arab civilians. The police are organized under the Ministry of the Interior, which is confronted by corruption and militia infiltration and lacks control over police in the provinces."
These are the folks who are going to win the war we could not win, after we depart? Is this not an insult to common sense?
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