Thursday, December 07, 2006

Iraq Study Group

I would not have thought it was possible to feel as optimistic about national policy as I do this morning. I have a whole new list of names to research for possible inclusion in my list of heroes. One of the most wonderful aspects of yesterday's news about the report of the Iraq Study Group is the surprise factor. It's been a long time since Congress and the President accepted an independent report with such apparent open-mindedness as they have received the report of the Iraq Study Group. That indicates that the Iraq Study Group has done its job thoroughly. It's not enough to write the report if you can't get anyone to read it.

I'm comforted by the mere existence of United States Institute of Peace, facilitator of the Iraq Study Group; by the knowledge that not so long ago Congress acted on an idea, first stated in 1792, to establish "an office for promoting and preserving perpetual peace in our country." I am similarly comforted by the roles played by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the Center for the Study of the Presidency (CSP.)

From the Timeline page of the Institute of Peace:
In March, Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA) asks USIP to coordinate the Iraq Study Group and appropriates funds for its administration. Three other organizations are asked to assist: the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Center for the Study of the Presidency, and the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University. Congressional organizers select former Secretary of State James A. Baker, III, and former chairman of the House International Relations Committee Lee Hamilton as co-chairs of the ISG. The co-chairs, in consultation with the supporting organizations, choose the other members of the ISG.
I recognize problems with the process. Why did we wait three years to start the study? Why did we wait 'til after elections to release the results? I question the use of the term "bipartisan" instead of "non-partisan." I'm horrified at even the suggestion of committing more troops to Iraq. But at some point I'm prepared to accept the work of well qualified people who seem to done a thorough job of collecting the facts and exploring the alternatives. I haven't read the entire report yet. I'm printing it out now. So far, it seems to be an example of the clearest thinking and clearest writing I've seen in a long time.

This image is a tile I've had since I was in high school. I bought it at the drug store around the corner from my best friend's house. On the back it's got sticky tape with remnants of sheetrock from someplace I lived in the past.

Picasso painted many versions of peace doves. This one, with the many colored people dancing, has always been my favorite. Doves are not enough. In fact, as Bill has explained to me, doves are not inherently peaceful at all. Having no meaningful weapons, they haven't developed any behavioral inhibitions for aggressive behavior. You may have seen them beating on each other at your feeder. In fact, in captivity, they engage in bloody battles. (Sidenote: For some reason Bill met the Postmaster General of the United Nations in the fifties and this dove issue came up in conversation. The Postmaster was so impressed that he declined to use any dove designs for UN stamps for the duration of his term in office.)

So, with fervent hope and a grain of optimism, today I'm hanging the peace dancers where I'll see them every day. Perhaps in some magical way, the energy of being reminded daily of the possibility of peace will coalesce and contribute to the peace effort. Or perhaps it will remind me to talk to everyone I know and lots of people I don't know yet, about the possibility of peace and the importance of working for it.

(Cross posted at Five Wells)


Blogger Mark said...

It seems to me that without an Iraq expert in the group and the first paragraph stating that it is all about the oil, that military withdrawl should be hand in hand with corporate withdrawl.

Did you get a chance to listn to DemocracyNow!?

Today's show was brilliant.

3:35 PM, December 07, 2006  

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