December 12th, 2006


ISG, Part VII: "The Way Forward" (1)


Not long ago, Steve Clemons* attended a party with about sixty foreign policy heavy-hitters, and was struck by how glum the attendees were: struck that it was one thing to be unable oneself to imagine a good option for current U.S. policy, and quite another to be in a room full of foreign policy giants and discover that they couldn't, either. As you know by now, ten such heavy hitters -- five Republicans, five Democrats (some quite likely at that glum soiree, come to think) -- came together last March, at the instigation of Republican Congressman Frank Wolf of Virginia, as the Iraq Study Group (ISG). Though bipartisan, the panel leans conservative -- as it must, to influence a hard-right Republican president -- and (to the dismay of folks like liberal Sen. Russ Feingold) includes nobody who publicly opposed the Iraq War. Yet that too is its strength, given it must explicitly criticize what is currently being done, and implicitly criticize much that has gone before.

Its procedure was simple: assemble the best understanding available of the current situation, and get the best options-assessments available, with an eye to rebuilding an American consensus on the issues involved in what has become a deeply unpopular war. Our final two posts on the subject analyze (this one) the current state of affairs; then (next time -- at last!) the ISG Report itself.** Collapse )