The report is out, now the question is whether it will be used

Published 9:23 pm Thursday, December 7, 2006

The bipartisan commission has issued its report on “The Way Forward: A New Approach” in Iraq now that we have marched so deeply into the quagmire.

The really big question is whether the people at whom it is targeted will read it, will try to understand it on its own merits and not either toss it aside or read into it what they want and that they will use its recommendations to try to extricate us from the worst military, political and diplomatic mess we as a nation have ever been in.

I hope so, but given the statements of the president leading up to the release of this report, I am not optimistic. Many of his statements appear to throw out some of the suggestions of this report even before they were made. I hope that was all just a lot of hot air and has no meaning.

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Democrats keep saying they are willing to work with the administration, but will they read what they want to into this report?

I have not read the report yet. I plan to do so, though I expect it will be heavy slogging. The men and one woman on the commission are deep thinkers.

However, I have heard the press conference in which the members of the commission described it to a certain extent. I have also read a great deal about it. It seems like much of the substance of the report was leaked to various members of the press before the report was issued. Funny how, at least so far, I have not heard anyone fuss about the leaking.

To me, the only way to lessen the violence in Iraq is to rein in the militias and probably that is going to take force. I don’t see the Iraqi army or police force being up to the job no matter how well trained.

The divisions in Iraq appear to be manyfold. There are at least two large Shiite militias, one that definitely hates us and one that President Bush has tried to woo. Every once in a while a report will crop up showing that the Sunnis are not as monolithic as they might appear to be,

Then there are the outside terrorists that have come in and keep the sectarian fires burning that are causing the pot to boil.

In Vietnam, there was the North Vietnamese army and Viet Cong supported by Russia and there was the South Vietnamese army supported by us. The sides were much easier to define. In Iraq, you can only assume that whoever isn’t shooting at you just isn’t shooting at you, but that doesn’t mean they are on your side. The only sides seem to be us, as in the Americans, and virtually everybody else.

Yet we went there to free them from the dictator Saddam Hussein. Now that they are free, they are fighting with each other and with us

This report put out by the bipartisan commission claims to be only a better chance at resolving the crisis than the chance we have now by doing the things we have been doing. Even the members of the commission say that. The phrase “there is no magic (or silver) bullet” was used more than once in their press conference, and has been overused numerous times by the pundits trying to interpret and explain the report.

We in the West have divided ourselves into nation-states and the Middle East and much of the rest of the East has divided itself along religious lines, with loyalty to state having less significance than loyalty to religious sect. Actually, the “nation states” that exist were primarily artificially drawn up by the colonial powers of Europe as they gave up their colonies.

We in the West are not immune to the religious divisions. Look at Ireland and the long, historic enmity between Protestant Britain and Catholic France and Spain. Only within the past couple of hundred years has the enmity between the Protestant and Catholic countries lessened to the extent that non-sectarian alliances could be formed.

That took several hundred years, from the time of Henry VIII and Martin Luther until sometime after the American Revolution. How long do we have to wait for the Islamic world to realize it has to reach the same sort of accommodation among its sects for there ever to be any sort of peace?

Yes, I know there was enmity between England and the nations on the continent that remained Catholic even before the Dissenters set up their own sects of Christianity, but that dissension deepened the enmity and added a moral reason to the excuses for war.

In the case of the Middle East, the enmity between the two major religious sects of Islam appears to be the main cause for war.

As I said earlier, I have not read “The Way Forward” as yet, but I have heard it described. No where in the descriptions did I hear a means for resolving religious hatred. All the suggestions appear to be technical about military training for the Iraqi army and diplomatic moves to try to draw off some of the outside influences fueling the sectarian war now occurring in Iraq.

That is what worries me, that and the politicians who will read into the report what they want it to say.