Iraq Study Group: Nice work, guys! Even give back Golan Heights to Syria??!

News today has been dominated by the release of the Iraq Study Group report, a 100+ page compendium with more than 70 specific recommendations. I have to say that I am very impressed.

The report is notable for its direct advocacy of negotiations with Iran and Syria, the importance of building a broader Middle East peace effort. I was pretty much shocked to see it included advocating a Israeli-Syrian peace deal entailing returning the whole Golan Heights to Syria! WTF?!

Given that such awful neocons as Reuel Marc Gerecht and Clifford May were in the ISG, it is an extremely conciliatory document that achieves a certain level of understanding of how Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish militias will all have to be diplomatically engaged in order to preserve American interests. Even negotiating with Sadr! Promising no permanent bases, no permanent American oil domination? Hot damn!

No group in Iraq is placed on a pedestal here. Sadr's militia is fragmenting, Shiite death squads are all over the bureaucracies, all of this is placed in realistic, stark terms. That alone seems like a giant accomplishment.

The doses of reality about how various Iraqi militant and paramilitary groups have run amok is an important step towards the Beltway finally getting a grip on reality. I was also impressed by the list of people the ISG consulted, including important Syrian and Iranian diplomats, as well as important Sunni Iraqi tribal leaders like the Dulaimis.

Also I listened to much of the hearings on Gates coming into Defense yesterday, and Gates sounded pretty good. He admitted we are not winning in Iraq, and that diplomacy is important all around. As NPR put it, he sounded more like someone for Secretary of State, not Defense. When Gates was questioned by Robert Byrd, he admitted that the scenarios of Iranian retaliation after American attacks would be disastrous.

Honestly, today marks a huge setback for the general neoconservative perspective – there are barely any shadings of neocon eschatological/threatening type bullshit in the ISG, and Gates is obviously not from that school at all. 'Hawkery' itself finds little comfort in the ISG or with Gates.

And seriously (Syriously?), giving the Golan back to Syria? AIPAC's going to shit a brick. Too damn good. A huge step forward for the Antiwar movement.

Everything is still fucked up. But at least it seems like the adults are in charge now. Throughout Mr. Gates' testimony and the ISG report, you can tell the old Project for a New American Century is just fuckin' done.

The curtain is down on the old days. The prospects aren't good right now, but they don't want to double down by bombing Damascus anymore. Good days.

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