Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Iraq Study Group to America: It's Up To You, Frankly

The findings of the Iraq Study Group, presented today, revealed no surprises or silver bullets. Its general ideas -- shift more responsibility to the Iraqis, shift the mission focus to training, and engage in comprehensive diplomacy across the region including Iran and Syria -- are all ideas that have been urged by others before. I think what is truly significant about the Group is not its findings, but the process and the bipartisan imprimatur that this group gives to those particular ideas. The Group recognized that the challenge was not only sectarian divides in Iraq, but partisan divides here at home. The process of a group of widely-respected bipartisan leaders forging a consensus plan allows an opening for partisans of either side to gracefully put their partisan views aside and unite as Americans behind this best bipartisan advice.

I think the most interesting question of the press conference this morning was when Doyle McManus of the Los Angeles Times asked the Group, "What do you intend to do from now on to help President Bush embrace the wisdom of all of your recommendations?" Leon Panetta gave a very thoughtful answer explaining that the essential ingredient to any possible success is to unify our country behind a course of action. Justice O'Connor then added this: "It really is out of our hands, having done what we did. It's up to you, frankly. You are the people who speak to the American people. You're there interpreting this and talking to America. And I hope that the American people will feel that if they are behind something in broad terms that we'll be better off." Senator Simpson then added some observations about how there are too many "100-percenters" in America today who are unwilling to compromise, but compromise and consensus is the only way forward. They obviously all felt strongly about this, as I think it was the only question on which so many Group members wanted to add something. It was then that I realized that was the true value of this Group. Not a new silver bullet idea that no one had thought of before. But a consensus and an opportunity for all of us to get behind it. Now, as Justice O'Connor said, it's up to us.

1 comment:

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