In the past week, much of the nation and the world focused on the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, led by James Baker and Lee Hamilton.
November’s elections demonstrate a national consensus that it’s time to seek an exit from the Iraq war. The Iraq Study Group report offers a bipartisan path to a national consensus about how to extricate ourselves from the Iraq war. Certainly there is no attractive or easy answer.
The local origins of the Iraq Study Group have been forgotten in the much of the attention given to the Iraq report this past week. The idea for the study group, including its leaders and its funding, is the brainchild of U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-10), who represents all of Loudoun County and much of Fairfax County locally.
On a trip to Iraq more than a year ago, Wolf recognized the deteriorating conditions there well before it became obvious on a daily basis, and began to consider how he could act to help find solutions.
It is characteristic of Wolf to seek real solutions to intractable problems and to do so in a way that bypasses ego and grandstanding to allow for consensus, shared credit and face-saving.
Here’s what the New York Times wrote Dec. 8, 2006, about Wolf’s role in the study group:
“The study group was created by Congress at the urging of Representative Frank R. Wolf, a Virginia Republican active in foreign-policy issues who grew alarmed by what he saw in Iraq during a visit last year.
“He pressed Congressional leaders to approve $1 million for the project through the Washington-based United States Institute of Peace, which oversaw logistical and scholarly support for the project and helped recruit Mr. Baker and his Democratic co-chairman, Lee H. Hamilton, a former chairman of the House International Relations Committee. Mr. Baker and Mr. Hamilton selected the commission’s other members — four Republicans and four Democrats.”
It’s worth remembering the report’s local — and Republican — origins as national leaders continue to grapple with the study group’s report and the war in Iraq.
It’s time to embrace this thoughtful report as a beginning to extract ourselves from a war we should not have instigated to begin with.
<1b>— Mary Kimm