Today the Iraq Study Group report was released.
To be honest, for the most party it looks like an excuse to continue more or less what we are doing. There is no timetable for withdrawl, it says that we will have to turn things over to the Iraqis, but then that is what we are doing.
It is spiced with common sense, but of the variety that is new only because our leadership has been so tone deaf to reality for so long. For example, it acknowledges that if there ever was a window to turn Iraq into a stable democracy, that has long since been closed. It describes the situation as 'grave and deteriorating.' Well, D'oh. It talks about withdrawl, but not giving specific dates. It says that we have to deal with Iran and Syria. Well, yeah, when you talk about ending a war then you have to deal with people who are at least by proxy on the other side. I've heard some conservatives complain about that, and it only shows how out of it they are. George Bush could meet a hundred times with Tony Blair and al-Maliki but that wouldn't solve anything. It's like people who were opposed to ever negotiating with communists. Ultimately, we had to. In order to get out of Vietnam, Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger met with and negotiated with communists. Vietnamese communists, Soviet communists, Chinese communists. It doesn't mean that we should trust a guy like Ahmadinejad, but the reality is that he can make a lot of things happen in Iraq, both good and bad, that we have no control over, and Iran has become much, much more powerful as a player in the region than it was when we invaded Iraq. So if our goal is to bring peace (or at least some semblance of stability) to Iraq so that we can get out 'with honor,' then we are going to have to deal with Iran. That is aside from the issue of trust. We have dealt with a lot of people we don't trust, but have made agreements which were in their best interests to keep. Everyone knows that we will have to negotiate with Iran except for a few people who have their heads in the sand and are still living in a pre-Iraq world when the U.S. pretty much dictated to the rest of the world, so the report spells it out.
This report does have the potential to provide some direction, but on the whole it seems more like a 'cover your behind' type report, seeking to justify our continued presence while providing cover for the President and his administration when the inevitable overtures to Tehran and Damascus to talk about peace are made.