What’s Wrong with the Baker Commission Report

I haven’t had time to fully digest it yet, but I can already tell you about a basic problem with the Iraq Study Group’s report, which is full of statements like this one (page 50)…

The Study Group recognizes that U.S. relationships with Iran and Syria involve difficult issues that must be resolved. Diplomatic talks should be extensive and substantive, and they will require a balancing of interests.
Of course, to implement a balancing of interests, you first have to determine what the interests of your adversary are. To get a sense of what the Iranian government views as its long-term interests, we can start with this Agence France-Presse story (via Breitbart) on a speech delivered today by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad …
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has warned Western leaders to follow the path of God or “vanish from the face of the earth”.
“These oppressive countries are angry with us … a nation that on the other side of the globe has risen up and proved the shallowness of their power,” Ahmadinejad said in a speech in the northern town of Ramsar, the semi-official news agency Mehr reported Wednesday.
“They are angry with our nation. But we tell them ‘so be it and die from this anger’. Rest assured that if you do not respond to the divine call, you will die soon and vanish from the face of the earth,” he said.
So, in a nutshell, the government of Iran sees its primary national interest as helping to eliminate from the face of the earth any Western nation that has not properly responded to its radical vision of God’s call. Now, can someone explain to me exactly how one goes about “balancing” this interest against anything else? Should the US adopt a policy of allowing the Iranian government to annihilate just a few (but not all) Godless Western countries, so long as the US receives some concessions from Iran first. Would that satisfy the balance-of-interest advocates out there?
In the end, the Baker commission recommendations are likely to be quicky forgotten because any plan that proposes dealing with ideologically driven expansionist power by seeking “stability” is destined to fail (see Neville Chamberlin). When one side is working for stability, while the other side is looking to expand, the expansionist side will continue to expand, as the stabilizers continue to seek stability. That means that the expansionists win.

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Chuck
14 years ago

Agree.

Andrew
14 years ago

Chuck, I have a question for someone who remembers the 1970s.
When Kissinger and Nixon were putting their Detente with the Soviets together, was there a sense in the (politically aware) general public that they were carrying out a grand strategy, or was it perceived at the time as open-ended talk?

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