This panel is a disgrace. For a group that considers themselves to be "realists" this report has a very "unrealistic" view of our enemies. Castigate the conduct of the war anyway you like; this is definitely not how we should handle the current situation. Negotiate - with Iran and Syria? You must be joking; these people equate talking with weakness. Why aren't we actively undermining Iran and Syria? They are the major "bad actors" in the region, they continue to supply arms to the various factions in Iraq and their regime's are ripe for change. But no - let's talk with the mullahs. I suppose it's asking too much for anyone to remember Munich when we don't even remember 9/11. I will state this as plainly as I can:
Here is an article on the report by Andrew McCarthy for National Review that sums it up quite well:
"The ISG wants us to talk to the mullahs? How can we blame them? That’s exactly the course the administration has chosen for the life-and-death challenge of the jihadist nuke. To mollify “the international community,” for which no evil is beyond “dialogue,” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice pushed for an end to the inconvenience of American moral clarity. We should abandon this notion that Iran is an implacable enemy, she insisted. We should join with our “partners.” Let’s reason with the mullahs. Ply them with breathtaking incentives: security assurances; economic aid; high-technology; aviation, energy, telecommunications and agriculture assistance.
"The Bush Doctrine? You’re with us or against us? Unrealistic. No need, after all, to sour the mood by demanding an end to Iran’s terror mongering. And sticks to go with these carrots? No, not to worry. The Iranians would surely be moved to comply, and, if they didn’t, why, surely the Russians and the Chinese would back some sticks … notwithstanding that Iran is into them like a shylock.
"You know, of course, the result. The Iranians laughed at us. So impressed were they by this nuanced display of soft power that … they sicced Hezbollah on Israel, armed up their Iraqi militias, and blithely went on building their nukes.
"ISG Chairman James Baker, a foolish man, looked Congress in the eye on Thursday and explained his master plan. Did it seem foolish to propose negotiations with Iran, our relentless enemy? Sure. But, the “realist” doyen puttered, if we invite them to negotiate about Iraq’s future, and they demur, why, we’ll expose their intransigence for all the world to see.
"Right. They slaughter and abet the slaughter of our marines, our airmen, our sailors, William Buckley, Robert Stethem, William Higgins, and countless others. They tell us their defining goal is a world without America, a world in which our allies are wiped from the face of the earth. But, at long last, we’ll know who they really are … if they don’t show up for a meeting.
"Blue-ribbon panels can afford such juvenilia. They are, after all, unaccountable. What’s the administration’s excuse?
"What makes a superpower super is power. If we don’t use it, what’s left? Iran believes they will destroy us and acts on that conviction every day. We … seek negotiations.
"I’m not a hugger, but I hugged my four-year-old son as I wrote this. We abdicate now. We turn a blind eye as our implacable, insatiable enemies pick off our best and our bravest. We shrink from the duty a quarter century of mayhem imposes. We don’t have the will.
"It will be for my son, and yours, to face down this challenge. A challenge that endures because we offer to talk while they plot to kill."