One element of the chaos in Iraq not fully addressed in the ISG report is the ongoing displacement of its citizenry, especially religious minorities and the professional classes. Perhaps this is because there’s so little that can be done. Sectarian violence, abductions, and continuing problems with basic civil infrastructure contribute to the ever-increasing flow of refugees. The complete collapse of Iraq society, which at times seems like it could occur at any moment, would likely open the flood gates.
With a Maliki-led government seen by many (both inside and outside Iraq) as largely ineffectual, and the virtual neutering of the US as a legitimate power broker in the region, the factors provoking the exodus appear unlikely to mitigate any time soon (barring a coerced change in government and the abandonment of democracy, of course).
CAP’s Morton Halperin, much like the Iraq Study Group report itself, misses the point: Iraq is FUBARED. Despite the (largely selfish) good intentions expressed in the video commentary, salvaging the situation in Mesopotamia is completely beyond the control of the US, and has been for some time now. There’s nothing left for the US to do – except try to “limit the fallout”, as CFR president Richard Haass put it, and get out.
The Iraq Study Group released its long awaited report on the US mission in Iraq to much media fanfare in Washington. President Bush made a classic non-commitment to the report (much like he did to the recommendations made by the 9/11 Commission – and we all know how many of those were implemented) leaving some to wonder what the point of the whole exercise was* – besides signaling a superficial course correction in Bush Admin policy: ‘stay the course’ is out, ‘bipartisan consensus’ in.
Many analysts were less than impressed with the conclusions reached in the report. Slate military correspondent Fred Kaplan called the report an “amorphous, equivocal grab bag”. Former National Security adviser to President Carter Zbigniew Brzezinski said findings represent “a typical, middle-of-the-road consensus among an elite Washington “focus group”, composed of esteemed individuals not handicapped by much historical or geopolitical familiarity with the region’s problems.” Continue reading