Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Second "Thumpin'" - Comments on ISG Report

Presidential Historian, Michael Beschloss, in Newsweek:

History suggests that Baker-Hamilton’s ultimate contribution may be whatever outside pressure it generates on President Bush and Congress to achieve a bipartisan solution in Iraq.

The times in history when such panels have had the greatest impact have been when they provided a president with the mechanics and bipartisan blessing to do what he probably wanted to do anyway. The best two examples are both from the Reagan years. In 1981, President Reagan appointed an expert commission led by Alan Greenspan (not yet Fed chairman) to suggest how to fix that generation’s Social Security problems.

Six years later, besieged by the Iran-contra scandal, Reagan appointed a bipartisan group headed by Texas Republican Sen. John Tower to suggest how to revise White House management to exclude the future possibility of unauthorized covert operations. By promptly accepting the Tower Commission’s wise recommendations and admitting his mistakes, Reagan helped to save his presidency.

One reason the Tower findings were so briskly accepted was the expertise of the commission’s staff director, who knew how important it was for the president to take its report seriously. This was a young lawyer named Stephen Hadley, who has gone on to become President Bush’s national-security adviser.

George F. Will, in WaPo:
The Iraq Study Group, like the policy it was created to critique, was overtaken by the unexpectedly rapid crumbling of the U.S. position in Iraq since the ISG was formed in March.
Also in the week before the ISG's report, the leaked Donald Rumsfeld memo urged policy to "go minimalist." That is generally good advice to government, but much of the rest of the memo, with its 21 "illustrative new courses of action" -- a large number, and evidence that none is especially promising -- echoed the 1960s Great Society confidence in government-engineered behavior modification...

The ISG's central conclusion, important to say with the group's imprimatur even though the conclusion is obvious, is that the problem with Iraq is the Iraqis, a semi-nation of peoples who are very difficult to help.

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