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Surging to Brookings

By Matthew Yglesias

"Surging to Brookings"

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Yesterday, Josh Marshall noted that the Brookings Institution, an erstwhile left-of-center think tank, will be hosting an event featuring Frederick “Surge” Kagan and remarks “I don’t know off-hand what other Iraq confabs Brookings is holding on Iraq this month. But highlighting the one truly nutball idea about what to do in Iraq — and none of the more sane ones — seems an odd stance for Brookings.” If you read the transcript from Kagan’s unveiling of his plan at AEI you’ll see that Ken Pollack, who takes the lead on Brookings’ Iraq stuff, was on hand and very positive about Kagan (“We put together a 150-page report in February of this year which looks remarkably like the plan that Fred’s team put together”) and overwhelmingly devoted his critical remarks to tackling the straw man of “people who oppose continued involvement in Iraq particularly but not limited to many in my own party, basically assuming, asserting that there would not be any consequences from withdrawal in Iraq.”

Whether the Kagan-Pollack meeting of the minds enhances Kagan’s credibility or detracts from Pollack’s I’ll leave as an exercise to the reader. Certainly my general approach to life is to listen to well-respected experts, then where their advice turns out to be terrible keep on listening to them rather than turning to different voices, so I don’t see why one would have any doubts about this.

Lawrence Korb and Max Bergmann call the Kagan plan “unrealistic and dangerous” before noting: “The neoconservative architects of the war claim that those who oppose increasing the number of troops do not understand the implications of failure in Iraq. But they have it backwards. Those who opposed the war from the outset understood the difficulty and scope of the task at hand, while the war’s architects are the ones only now coming to grips with the catastrophic implications of a possible civil and regional war.”

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