In order for the ISG’s proposal to be given any kind of reasonable consideration (at least by me), someone is going to have to intelligently explain how a reduction of the current level of chaos in Iraq serves the interests of both Iran and Syria. As I see it, both of the states just mentioned have a huge role in fomenting the sectarian violence in Iraq, because presently, it serves their joint regional interests. Iran and Syria are using the violence and chaos in Iraq in order to deflect international attention away from their pet projects. Hegemony in Lebanon for the Syrians, and a nuke weapon for Iran.
The ISG’s proposal would also also serve Iran’s quest for the bomb, with a ‘quid pro quo’ promise to withdraw its support for fighters in Iraq, in exchange for a lessening up on, or no sanctions at all, to be directed against Iran. The only message the ISG’s proposal will give to both Iran and Syria, (and already has) is that more/prolonged violence will begat more conciliatory tones from both Washington and London, which cannot be in Iraq’s long term best interests, nor for the region as a whole.
The ISG’s proposal also contains the expected mention of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, calling for: “a sustained commitment by the United States to a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace”. Fine words, and a sentiment that I share, but the resolving of that conflict won’t stop the sectrarian violence in Iraq, it’s completely unrelated, as well as all the other conflicts where Muslims are spilling other Muslims’ blood. Besides, the Palestinians have shown themselves to be completely incapable of translating any territory turned over to them by Israel, into areas of sustained development for their society, choosing rather to use it as a staging ground for further hostilities to be directed against Israel. Don’t expect Israel to play along with any such tomfoolery.
A Wall Street Journal editorial sums it up this way:
“And this is where the ISG went most awry, with its analysis that comes close to a pox on all Iraqi factions. Of course “national reconciliation” is essential and Iraq’s minority Sunnis need to be given a stake in the new Iraq. But the reality is that the main cause of the violence in Iraq–the main enemy–are the Sunni terrorists. They can’t be appeased with political offers because their goal is to drive out America and then topple the government.
On that point, the best “new” idea on Iraq that we’ve heard runs exactly counter to the ISG suggestion of “conditional” U.S. support based on forced “reconciliation.” According to a report in the Washington Post, State Department Counselor Phillip Zelikow recently drafted a memo on something called the “80% solution,” referring to the roughly 80% of Iraqis who are Shiites and Kurds. Mr. Zelikow argues that U.S. attempts to draw violent Sunni factions into the political process have not only failed but also alienated our natural allies among the majority of Iraqis who welcomed the overthrow of Saddam.
This does not mean the U.S. would be taking sides with Shiite death squads against the Sunni terrorists. Far from it, the point would be to reassure Iraq’s elected government that the United States is firmly on its side. This is particularly important for Mr. Hakim and other Shiites, many of whom still remember being abandoned by the U.S. after they were urged to rebel against Saddam way back in 1991.”
Perhaps another reason as to why I don’t trust the ISG proposal, is because I don’t trust the individual who co-headed the group, James Baker III. Baker is not only an “old school realist”, he’s an anti-Semite as well. His famous quote of; “F*ck the Jews, they don’t vote for us anyways” still rings in my ears. That such a person would be anyway connected with an advisory group that seeks to give advice to the US President concerning Israel, is an anethma, just as is Jimmah Carter.
More here. KGS