I may feel the need to write something substantive about the Iraq Study Group's recommendations in due course but in the meantime, I noticed that the group places a lot of emphasis on the need to set out "milestones" for the Iraqi government.
And they claim not to be imperialists. Notice that they didn't offer to set metrestones. Hoist by their own petard, methinks.
The IGC was widely thought to be looking at exit strategies which would provide a sheen of respectability to the United States. A withdrawal which looked like abject failure on the part of the U.S. is what they most want to avoid (Democrats and Republicans). This plan to set milestones seems to be a key part of that effort.
In short, it looks very much like the exit strategy the ICG recommend is based on the idea that all blame for the failure of this misconceived misadventure should be borne by Iraqis. If adopted, we can expect those involved in this fiasco to start selling the message that "we set them milestones and they failed to achieve them" and "we gave them every chance but they didn't take it" and other variations on the same theme. In fact, some of the neo-cons who urged on the invasion without having the slightest understanding of what post-Saddam, U.S. occupied Iraq would be like, have already been giving this concept an airing. The ICG report prepares the way - after a suitable period of milestone setting - for those inside the Bush administration to start doing the same.
It's a deeply unpleasant business but it may well work to some extent.
That said, it is quite possible that Bush's messianic belief in the rightness of his cause will lead him to reject this sort of thinking. He really does believe that "good will triumph over evil" and there are signs that this makes him incapable of coming to terms with the reality of the situation. Given that the invasion of Iraq was supposed to be part of a war against religious fundamentalists, that possibility represents a particularly ugly irony.
Tags: News, Politics, Iraq