Question of the Moment

Meet Prime Minister Grave and President Deteriorating.  Have you ever seen two more diminished figures than these?  In the annals of slam-dunk wars of aggression and the holding of news conferences to justify them at a later stage, theirs are the shrunken heads of historical regimes.

Wednesday (December 6) witnessed the release of the much-heralded Iraq Study Group Report.  Fortunately for us here at ZNet, the "unanimous view" of this 80-some-page document can be summed up in fewer than 50 words.  Namely (and correcting for the document's governing rhetoric):

The Americans may have gone into Iraq to enhance their wealth and power.  But now, some 45 months on, it turns out that they are poorer and weaker than they were before. Already great, the risk of dramatic decline threatens to become catastrophic.  Shit

I suppose, then, that the Question of the Moment is (or at least it ought to be): How should we receive The Iraq Study Group Report?

Simultaneously as an "anticlimax" and the "absolute refutation of the cult of U.S. unilateralism that has driven foreign policy under Mr. Bush," the latter now passing for "conventional wisdom" around Washington, thanks to a "radical shift in thinking about Iraq" and the dramatic successes of the anti-occupation resistance? ("Talking sense on Iraq," Toronto Globe and Mail.)  

As a "last-ditch strategy to stabilize Iraq," one that "has already been embraced in large measure by the Iraqi government and U.S. military commanders, if not explicitly by President Bush"? ("The Study Group Reports," Washington Post.)

How about as a "carefully crafted compromise designed to ensure consensus among its own membership rather than a precise plan for the Pentagon," the report's "real importance" lying in the "political opportunity that it offers to the White House and Pentagon, not its detailed proposals"? ("Quick Study," The Times.)

Perhaps as an "implicit repudiation of the entire divisive international and domestic political project that President George Bush has pursued since 9/11, with the unfailing and dismaying public support of Tony Blair"? ("If not now, when?" The Guardian.)  

Even as a "stunning indictment of Mr. Bush's failure–in Iraq and no less in Washington," and an effort to "to avert the worst scenario, in which a stubborn George W. Bush spends the next two years blindly insisting he will accept nothing short of victory, while Iraq keeps spiraling out of control and the Iraqis get no closer to being able to contain the chaos after the Americans leave"?  ("Welcome Political Cover," New York Times.)

Or as the proverbial lead balloon–pre-emptively deflated by events in the real world, at most seconding in words what already has been determined on the ground?

Iraq Study Group (Homepage), United States Institute of Peace 
The Iraq Study Group Report, James A. Baker III and Lee H. Hamilton, December 6, 2006  (For the PDF version of the complete report.)
"Testimony on the Report of the Iraq Study Group," U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services, December 7, 2006

"Joint Statement by the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of Iraq," White House Office of the Press Secretary, November 30, 2006 
"Background Press Briefing by a Senior Administration Official on the President's Meetings with Prime Minister Maliki," White House Office of the Press Secretary, November 30, 2006

"President Bush Receives Report from the Iraq Study Group," White House Office of the Press Secretary, December 6, 2006 
"President Bush Meets with British Prime Minister Tony Blair," White House Office of the Press Secretary, December 7, 2006

 National Strategy for Victory in Iraq, White House Office of the Press Secretary, November 30, 2005.  (For the PDF version of the complete report.)
"Renewal in Iraq" (Homepage), White House Office of the Press Secretary 

"'Intelligence' and the Invasion of Iraq," ZNet, April 1, 2005
"Question of the Moment," ZNet, December 7, 2006


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