I haven’t read the full Baker Hamilton Iraq commission report, but I don’t need to read it to know that it’s going to be useless— a compromise of “exit strategy” (surrender strategy?)ideologies as opposed to a victory plan.
If I may seemingly digress”¦ Last week the idiot light indicating I needed to service my car’s transmission came on. I called a friend who owns a transmission parts distribution business, knowing that he had intimate knowledge of the Portland transmission repair industry and that he’d be able to draw on this specialized knowledge to recommend an honest, reliable transmission repair shop. After examining my car, the recommended shop gave me three options for dealing with the issue. I weighed the costs and benefits and chose my solution. From idiot light on to repair took two days, but only because I put off the trip to the shop for a day.
Let me tell you what I did not do. I did not call a bunch of political has beens with no knowledge of transmissions or the transmission repair industry to diagnose my transmission problem. I did not call my friend the pollster, because as much as he knows about sampling and statistical analysis, and while I’m certain he could tell me how a sample of likely voters between the ages of 18 and 35 felt about their transmissions, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t know much about transmissions. I didn’t call my friend the heart surgeon, because while he is an expert at diagnosing and repairing problems of a somewhat mechanical nature, he also doesn’t know much about transmissions either— hell, he can’t even program his DVR.
Let’s extend this reasoning to the problem of counterterrorism and counterinsurgency in Iraq. What do you think Sandra Day O’Connor or Vernon Jordan knows about either? I’ll call on Sandra if I want to know about constitutional law — maybe — and on Vernon if I want to know how to pass a bribe. Do we really want William Perry, who as Undersecretary of Defense for Jimmy Carter participated in the formation of the policies that gave rise to the modern Islamist terrorist states and as Secretary of Defense under Bill Clinton turned a blind eye to the terrorist acts leading up to 9/11 and the Iraq war? I’m sure Leon Panetta will be fine with any recommendation, so long as the Iraqis agree not to do offshore drilling. Of course, maybe the whole Iraq war could have been avoided if Chuck Robb had married one of Saddam Hussein’s daughters. Ed Meese is only there because he’s James Baker’s buddy and James Baker is only there because he’s a friend of Papa Bush. Lawrence Eagleburger was substituted for the only appointment making even remote sense — former CIA director Robert Gates — when Gates was tapped to replace Donald Rumsfeld. Eagleburger was a vocal critic of the decision to invade Iraq and voiced his support for impeachment should President Bush take military against Iran and/or Syria to stop them from meddling in Iraq. Gee, I wonder what his recommendation will be?
And then there’s Alan Simpson. A fine man, someone I’d love to have a few drinks with, and probably possessed of more common sense than the rest of the commission combined, but still not an expert in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency.