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Comments by

W. Patrick Lang

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General Comments on the ISG Report, entire page
December 28, 2006, 1:47 pm

The Bush Administration functions on the basis of central organizing principles which are believed to hold the key to a benevolent future for mankind. These “truths” are said to be universal and either “self evident” or divinely inspired.

In pursuit of a future governed by these principals, the Bush Administration invaded Iraq guided by a sincere belief that the “Iraqi People” would rise up in a moment of joy reminiscent of the chorus of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony to take their rightful place by the side of the United States in a “crusade” for the implantation of Western Civilization and “democracy” in the Middle East in particular and the Islamic World generally.

These expectations have not been met. After four years of war against social revolution and military occupation, the various Sunni Arab insurgent groups persist in their wayward, stubborn refusal to accept the defeat of the Baath government and the reduction of the social and political power of the Sunni Arabs. They have been joined in this “war” by true terrorists of the international Jihadi network.

At the same time, the majority Shia Arabs have been empowered mightily by the American insistance on electoral politics on the basis of “one person – one vote” in a region where electoral politcs traditionaly reflect group rather than individual interests. The Sunni Arabs do not see the resulting Shia controlled government and security forces as an accident of political events, soon to be reversed. No, they see present situation for what it is, a permanent transfer of power to the Shia Arabs, not to be reversed by pacific means.

At the same time the Shia Arabs squabble among themselves to learn who will rule Iraq after the Ajanib (foreigners) are gone. While engaged in that private struggle they appear to compete for “pride of place” among the ethnic cleansers of Sunni neighborhoods in Baghdad. Their efforts are then matched by Sunni groups, etc.

This situation seems to “cry out” for a massive diplomatic effort, led by the great powers to resolve the perceived and sometimes real conflicts of interest among the various GROUPS. These groups clearly include the various peoples, parties and sects of Iraq as well as ALL the surrounding countries, without whose help no solution to the problem of Iraq can be found. To be effective such negotiations would have to address ALL the issues thought to be outstanding among the conferees. To imagine that any part to such negotiations would be willing to deal on the basis of the issues important to only one side is simply foolish.

To negotiate implies a willingness to compromise with the interlocutor. The Bush Administration sees the world in Manichean terms. Men and countries are seen as either good or evil. One does not compromise with evil and so serious diplomacy is out of the question.

It was clear from the beginning of its rumored “progress” in deliberation that the guiding spirit of the ISG would be anything but. Manichean. The frantic babblings of the “commentariat” in the weeks before release of the report made that even clearer.

It should have been understood from this that the president and commander in chief of the armed forces would have none of it. Predictably, he has simply ignored the report after accepting the advice proffered by people powerless to affect his decisions.

President Bush will soon pronounce himself on a “new” policy with regard to Iraq. It will focus yet more intensely on his devotion to his struggles.