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What the Iraqi Survey Group's report missed

By Frank Salvato
web posted December 11, 2006

US President George W. Bush speaks while holding the Iraq Study Group report with former secretary of state James A. Baker (R) and former chairman of the House International Relations Committee Lee Hamilton (L)
US President George W. Bush speaks while holding the Iraq Study Group report with former secretary of state James A. Baker (R) and former chairman of the House International Relations Committee Lee Hamilton (L)

The non-partisan Iraq Study Group released its much ballyhooed non-binding report last Wednesday. I took the time to read it as I do each study, survey and report that has to do with the well-being and security of our nation, as should the rest of America. The only thought that came to mind as I finished reading it was that the citizens of the United States, even the so-called "wise men," have lost their will to do what is needed not only to preserve our country, but to advance the cause of freedom around the world. This is disturbing, especially in the shadow of the 65th anniversary of the attacks on Pearl Harbor.

There were many things in the report that seemed to echo what the Bush Administration has been doing all along: enlisting the assistance of foreign powers in the region to help stabilize the fledgling democracy, putting a priority on training Iraqi troops so they can take over security operations, striving to secure the western and southeastern borders and empowering the newly elected Iraqi government.

The report further suggested that there be a troop increase before the redeployment. That suggestion brought back memories of John Kerry's statement that he voted for the war before he voted against it. The report also suggested that the US open up diplomatic relations with Syria and Iran and introduced the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into the equation.

The idea of sending more military personnel into Iraq has advantages and disadvantages, as well as learned supporters from both sides of the aisle. To date, President Bush has maintained that those most qualified to judge what is needed in Iraq are the military commanders on the ground in Iraq. Currently, the Pentagon is compiling its own report of strategy alternatives for the Iraqi conflict. An intelligent idea would be to wait on implementing any of the Iraq Study Group's recommendations until we can reconcile the two of them.

The suggestion that the United States should open up dialogue with Syria and Iran also has its merits. I have always been a firm believer in using all of our government's resources in combating threats to our nation; diplomatic, financial and military. True, only the monumentally dense believe that Syria and Iran would be genuine in their interactions with the United States, or any country from the West, but keeping even a disingenuous line of communication open between those who are not considered allies has its advantages, the utilization of a well produced disinformation campaign among them.

Where the Iraq Study Group starts to stray is in their assertion that the Israeli-Palestinian issue is somehow related to the power struggle currently taking place in Iraq. Unless I am ignorant to the existence of a Jewish contingent in the newly formed Iraqi government, introducing this conflict into the equation simply complicates the matter. It creates opportunities for the less than reputable insurgent factions to blame their continued acts of violence on something that isn't part of the immediate problem.

The current difficulty in Iraq stems not from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but from two existing clashes: the centuries old battle between the Shi'ites and the Sunnis and the more recent radical Islamists' struggle against the West, namely the United States.

The Sunni insurgents of al Qaeda in Iraq are involved in a power-struggle for control of that country with the Shi'ites of Iran and Muqtada al Sadr's Mahdi Army. As the Sunni ideology, which accounts for almost 90 percent of the Muslim population, is championed by Saudi Arabia and the Shi'ite ideology by Iran, any premature withdrawal of US and Coalition Forces from Iraq could very well lead to a complete breakdown of the newly elected and sovereign Iraqi government and plummet the region into all out war.

The conflict in Iraq is a Muslim versus Muslim conflict that deals with the religious divide in Islam that has existed since the death of Muhammad. To intimate that the Israeli-Arab conflict is somehow responsible for the violence between Shi'ite and Sunni factions in Iraq is irresponsible and incorrect.

But perhaps the most glaring omission in the Iraqi Study Group's report was their failure to identify the vitriolic propaganda campaign of the anti-war Progressive-Left as part of the problem.

Nowhere in the report did the group call for anti-war Progressive-Leftists to forego the destructive political gamesmanship of partisan opportunism in favor of joining together to offer solutions. It didn't point out that disparaging statements about our troops and our president made by Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Ted Kennedy, Al Gore and John Murtha, statements tantamount to rhetorical atrocities, served to encourage those who want to kill us.

The report never mentioned that the constant onslaught of biased reporting served up by the agenda-driven mainstream media, reporting that chose to focus on terrorist produced violence designed to propagandize, only served to embolden those who place our soldiers in their gun sights.

In short, the Iraq Study Groups report gave a free pass to one of the most debilitating obstacles to victory in Iraq, the anti-war efforts of the Progressive-Left right here in the United States.

Lastly, as we consider the merits and the shortcoming of the Iraq Study Group's report, I find it curious that it omits the option of total victory. It would seem that in our current culture of politically correct moral relativism, being victorious over an enemy that wants to kill you for simply existing isn't politically correct.

While we occupy ourselves with the options provided to us for achieving total retreat, our enemy, an enemy that has no national allegiance, that knows no physical boundaries, an enemy that will settle for nothing but total victory at all costs, is slowly invading the Africa Continent, a continent rich in uranium. Radical Islamists have invaded Somalia, Sudan and they threaten Ethiopia and Chad. While we try to figure out how to remove ourselves from the field of battle, our enemy is amassing territory from which to wage war.

Up until now I would have argued against the thought, but it would seem that Americans are too arrogant, too affluent, too predisposed to narcissism to be bothered with self-preservation. When we put ourselves into harms way because we are too lazy to be bothered with understanding the consequences of inaction, we court disaster for our nation.

I suppose the true threat of the enemy we face will not be understood by the American powers that be until radical Islamists land on our shores and occupy American soil. Hey! Wait a minute. Haven't they already taken Dearborn, Michigan? ESR

Frank Salvato is the managing editor for The New Media Journal. He serves at the Executive Director of the Basics Project, a non-profit, non-partisan, 501(C)(3) research and education initiative. His pieces are regularly featured in over 100 publications both nationally and internationally. He has appeared on The O'Reilly Factor, and is a regular guest on The Right Balance with Greg Allen on the Accent Radio Network, as well as an occasional guest on numerous radio shows coast to coast. He recently partnered in producing the first-ever symposium on the threat of radical Islamist terrorism in Washington, DC. His pieces have been recognized by the House International Relations Committee and the Japan Center for Conflict. He can be contacted at oped@newmediajournal.us.


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