AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESurfer attacked by shark near Channel Islands calls rescue a ‘Christmas miracle’The U.S. must gradually shift responsibility for securing Iraq onto the Iraqi government, while embedding American forces to help Iraqi troops. It must engage Iraq’s hostile neighbors, and pressure all sides toward resolution in the terminable Israeli-Palestinian conflict. All of which, of course, is far easier said than done. The Iraqi government shows no signs of being able to stand on its own. Iran and Syria have shown no interest in promoting stability. And countless earlier attempts to broker a peace between Israel and Palestine have proved futile. Still, this approach, difficult thought it is, seems like America’s and the world’s best bet for not just bringing peace to Iraq, but to reducing the threat of radical Islamic terrorism. “GRAVE and deteriorating” is the grim assessment the Iraq Study Group gives to the American-led war, dourly noting that there is no “magic bullet” to resolve a burgeoning crisis. And yet the bipartisan commission offers some hope that the situation can improve: “It is still possible to pursue different policies that can give Iraq an opportunity for a better future, combat terrorism, stabilize a critical region of the world and protect America’s credibility, interests and values.” Let’s hope that’s right. The key, according to the panel, is a change in direction. Clearly our current strategy is failing. And bailing out of Iraq seems like a recipe for further chaos, ethnic cleansing and emboldening al-Qaida. So the Iraq Study Group, careful to avoid the disastrous choices of “stay the course” and “cut and run,” has struck a balanced approach. It’s one that doesn’t lend itself well to political slogans or campaigning – maybe that’s what makes it realistic. Perhaps what’s most refreshing about the group’s report is not just the recommendations it offers, but the way it came about. For the first time since that all-too-brief period after 9-11, we have a bipartisan group of national leaders approaching the war without a thought toward partisan advantage, but with a common desire to do what’s in the national interest. Maybe this, sadly, is what it takes to synthesize sound policies in our hyperpoliticized times – a panel of experts who are largely out of the political game, with the results released years before the next election. Maybe it takes unelected officials to do the responsible, heavy lifting our elected officials won’t. The Iraq Study Group had done its job and done it well. Now it’s up to the Bush administration and the new Democratic Congress to get to work on its recommendations, and give America what it desperately needs in Iraq – a new direction.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!