When the Iraq Study Group’s report was unveiled this week, it was like the opening of a blockbuster movie, with reporters counting down the minutes until it was released. But now that all the hoopla has subsided, all we are left with is a Washington inside job: a report written by Washington insiders, for Washington insiders, who share the same mindset that led us into the misguided war in Iraq.
The Iraq Study Group essentially sees Iraq the same way that most of official Washington does - as the be-all and end-all of our foreign and national security policy. Nothing could be further from the truth. Any decisions about our Iraq policy must be guided by our top national security priority: defeating the global terrorist networks operating in countries around the world. We cannot look at Iraq in isolation; we need to also be looking at Somalia and Afghanistan and the many other places around the world where we face grave and growing threats.
The report has some good recommendations, including its call for the U.S. to step up diplomatic efforts with countries like Iran and Syria. But many of its recommendations perpetuate the Iraq-centric policies that have failed so miserably. They fail to correct the course that the American people rejected at the polls in November.
The recommendation that we embed our best troops in the Iraqi army, for example, might seem like a good idea in isolation, but what about our critical effort to fight a resurgent Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan, the country that was the staging ground for the 9/11 attack? Our ongoing efforts in Iraq are straining our military and limiting our capacity to effectively pursue the fight against terrorist networks around the world.