WaPo Nails it on ISG

While agreement with the WaPo editorial board is usually immediate cause to question my assumptions, I nonetheless think they got it exactly right with yesterday’s essay with the subhead “The Iraq Study Group imagines a Middle East that doesn’t exist.”

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. In formal logic systems, if you start with a false premise, any statement is true. How convenient.

  2. Tano says:

    “The Iraq Study Group imagines a Middle East that doesn’t exist”

    There is a lot of that going ’round these days, doncha think?

  3. Tano says:

    “In formal logic systems, if you start with a false premise, any statement is true.”

    Someone needs a little work on thier understanding of logic.

  4. Tano says:

    Actually I found the editorial to be rather oversold. They basically seem to be in agreement with the military approaches, except for explicit timelines, though I read the report as having considerable flexibility there.

    And their comments on the diplomacy are kinda strange. They denounce a focus on the Israeli-Pal question, but in the end advocate movement on that front. They seem to object to the notion that resolving that issue is some silver bullet for resolving Iraq, but in that they are erecting a strawman – ISG does not claim that resolving the Israeli-Pal question will solve Iraq – only that it is a necessary part of our overall approach to the region.

    Their only serious objection seems to be on the question of whether engagement with Syria can be constructive. They claim, without much to back it up, that the Golan issue is really not that important to Syria – all Syria is interested in is Lebanon. But that doesnt seem to make much sense. No doubt Syria has interests it is pursuing in Lebanon, and it is not in our interest to do much other than oppose them there. But Golan is also a big concern- little Assad would be a hero for the ages if he could get that land back, and there is therefore plenty of room for working that angle.

    The Bush administration seems terribly incompetent at global political chess-playing, and perhaps their self-knowledge of that plays into their reluctance to even make much of an attempt. The consequences of all that however, are serious, given that without masterful diplomacy, there remains few options for advancing out interests other than military ones. Sounds like WaPo is buying into this Bushian mindset by counseling that we shouldnt even try to see what we can accomplish in that area.