Thursday, December 07, 2006
Iraq Study Group? Ho-hum.....
Before everyone gets too excited about the recommendations released by the Iraq Study Group, they should keep in mind the history of these kinds of reports.
In the end, the Kissinger Commission report — although well written and well conceived compared to others in the genre — was consigned to the dusty shelf where bipartisan reports are destined to languish unread.That's from Walter Isaacson's biography of Henry Kissinger. In 1983, President Reagan had appointed Kissinger as head of a commission to make policy recommendations for Central America. Reagan ignored much of what made the report bipartisan, thus rendering the entire venture one about public relations as opposed to substantive policy-making.
In fact, you can take any arms-length bipartisan commission and see that, for the most part, it's purpose is political. In the end, the president and Congress make decisions — no one else. I just found it interesting that this rule even applied going way back to 1983. As they say, the more things change — well, you know the rest.
President Bush will decide how to proceed in Iraq, and Congress will decide if it wants to fund it. The most notable change in Bush's approach is his appointment of a new defense secretary. That amounts to a concrete example of change. The Iraq Study Group, however, provides for nothing much more than political cover for Bush. It's more show than it is anything else.