Conservatives continued to belittle Iraq Study Group report

››› ››› RAPHAEL SCHWEBER-KOREN

Since Media Matters for America's December 8 round-up on conservative criticism of the Iraq Study Group (ISG), conservatives have continued to publicly attack both the ISG report and its members.

  • On the December 10 broadcast of the Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday, Weekly Standard editor William Kristol likened the idea that the ISG might provide President Bush with political cover to withdraw from Iraq to the idea that a similar group could have protected then-British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain from criticism before World War II when he agreed to let Adolf Hitler's Germany take possession of the Sudetenland from then-Czechoslovakia. "I don't think [Bush] should kid himself ... that this Iraq Study Group gives him any cover," Kristol said. "It's as if Neville Chamberlain had had a Czechoslovak study group in 1938 -- bipartisan, conservatives, liberals, and labor advising him. He was still blamed for the disgraceful failure to assist Britain's Czech allies at that time."

    Kristol has, as Media Matters noted, previously called the ISG report "an evasion" and "not a serious document." Further, Kristol's reference to Chamberlain and the British failure to protect Czechoslovakia in 1938 echoes an August 29 statement from then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who reportedly compared critics of the Iraq war to Nazi appeasers, a comparison that was subsequently cited with approval by Fox News political analyst and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) as Media Matters documented.

  • A December 11 Washington Times editorial opined that the ISG report was "incoherent," reflected "[t]he childlike innocence of the panel members," and "read like a 'wish list' put together by a high-school social studies class learning about the Middle East for the first time, without any regard for history or geopolitical realities."
  • According to a December 10 Washington Post article, American Enterprise Institute resident scholar Michael Rubin said that "the report, as a strategy document, was a 'Cliff Notes high school paper.' "
  • A December 9 New York Post editorial on the death of former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Jeane Kirkpatrick opined that ISG co-chairman James Baker III "just called on President Bush to turn tail and run from Iraq." As Media Matters previously noted, the cover of the December 7 New York Post depicted the heads of Baker and former Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-IN), the ISG co-chair, placed on the bodies of monkeys, with the headline, "Surrender Monkeys -- Iraq panel urges U.S. to give up."

From the December 10 broadcast of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday:

WALLACE: What makes you think if we put 20,000 more or 50,000 more that that's going to work?

KRISTOL: Well, the military planners are looking at that, and I'm -- serious military planners, from General [Jack] Keane, the former vice chief [of staff] of the Army, down through colonels.

There's a group of retired colonels meeting this weekend looking at it, and they believe that an addition of troops would help create a decent security environment, so, then -- which would allow us to continue training the Iraqi army and allow us to achieve, ultimately, our objectives in Iraq.

We will have to stay a while. The president's going to have to make this decision, and it's a tough decision, but he has to really decide: victory or withdrawal. And I don't think he should kid himself -- and I don't think he is, incidentally -- that this Iraq Study Group gives him any cover.

It's as if Neville Chamberlain had had a Czechoslovak study group in 1938 -- bipartisan, conservatives, liberals, and labor advising him. He was still blamed for the disgraceful failure to assist Britain's Czech allies at that time.

And if we lose in Iraq, it will be a national -- I mean, it's so depressing -- I don't even want to think about it -- but it will be a disgrace. It will be a disgrace. It will be our failure. It won't be the failure of Maliki. It will be our failure to have the patience and the ability to do what it takes to win this war.

From the December 11 Washington Times editorial titled, "Foreign policy ingenues":

The more one looks at the report produced by Jim Baker, Lee Hamilton and the rest of the Iraq Study Group (ISG), the more incoherent it appears. The childlike innocence of the panel members is pervasive in the ISG recommendations, which read like a "wish list" put together by a high-school social studies class learning about the Middle East for the first time, without any regard for history or geopolitical realities.

From the December 10 Washington Post article headlined, "Hawks Bolster Skeptical President":

Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon aide who resigned in protest from an Iraq Study Group expert panel, said he believes Baker's assessment is unrealistic. He said that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad gains strength from positioning himself as a rejectionist and foe of the United States, so it is wrong to believe that Syria would think it would gain from an alliance with Washington.

"Sometimes realists have to deal with reality," said Rubin, now a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. "Iran and Syria will press to exploit every advantage they have."

He said the report, as a strategy document, was a "Cliff Notes high school paper."

From the December 9 New York Post editorial titled, "Jeane Kirkpatrick, 1926-2006":

Chief among the Kirkpatrick bashers: James Baker, then the White House chief of staff, who planted news stories about her "impulsiveness" and "temperament" in a bid to isolate her politically.

Baker, of course, is also back in the news, having just called on President Bush to turn tail and run from Iraq. Jeane Kirkpatrick, we strongly suspect, would have eloquently demolished the Baker-Hamilton commission's prescriptions.

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