Yesterday, I noted here the pride of place 'Today' accorded Richard Haas, President of the Council on Foreign Relations, to trumpet his abjectly bleak view of Iraq. Haas confirmed Meredith Vieira's assessment of his position: "You do not believe that there is anything about the situation that is winnable, I take it." He added that Iraq would be seen as a "colossal foreign policy failure."
All this sets the stage nicely for the forthcoming, much-leaked recommendations of the Baker Study Group, which effectively will be calling for a slow-motion retreat and surrender.
Enter John Podhoretz. In his NY Post column of today, Podhoretz excoriates both the Study Group's members and its recommendations. Excerpts:
- "They had a wonderfully invigorating leak session the other day with The New York Times . . . Co-chairmen James 'Is There An Arab Dictator Nearby Whose Butt I Can Kiss' Baker and Lee 'Yes, I'm Still Alive' Hamilton didn't even bother to pretend to brief the president or key lawmakers first."
- "Baker, Hamilton and their crew of old Washington hands . . . are recommending a 'gradual pullback' of American troops but without a timetable. That basically translates into a nice, long, slow defeat - the 'graceful exit' of which the president spoke so harshly."
- "Its report is a scandal and an embarrassment; it's flatly immoral to seek to make or guide policy in this [consensus-above-all] fashion. Look, if its members believe the war is lost, they should say so. They should bite the bullet and advocate a pullout of American forces sooner rather than later. If its members could not actually achieve consensus on that point - if, in other words, some of its members still believe the war can be won while others believe there's no way to achieve victory - then it was simple vanity on the part of the Gang of 10 that led to the creation of a 'consensus' document that split the difference."
- "What's even more appalling, if true, is the group's other key recommendation - which is that America should try to find answers to its problems through an international conference that would include Syria and Iran. What do Syria and Iran want more than anything else in the world? To see an American defeat in Iraq. . . They're going to be a great help. But then, that's Baker for you. Give him a problem and he'll tell you your best hope of solving it can be found in sucking up to an Arab dictator."
So how about it, "Today"? Will you only give a platform to jeremiad merchants preparing the American people to accept the Baker-Hamilton recommendation of retreat? Or will you have the courage to hear from people like Podhoretz?
Finkelstein recently returned from Iraq. Contact him at email@example.com