The Model ISG

Model UN For Retirees

By Dan McLaughlin Posted in Comments (23) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »

the unofficial avatar for the ISG

After thinking about it a few days, though, it occurred to me what the ISG reminds me of: the Model UN from high school. Now, for those of you who did not attend a Model UN conference, the idea was that each school's delegation represented a country and you were supposed to be like the real UN, sitting down to hammer out compromises on an array of international issues. In fact, a lot of people were there to get away from their parents for a few days, party and pick up girls . . . which maybe isn't so different from the real UN after all, when you think about it.

That said, the emphasis at the Model UN was all on reaching compromises and consensuses, but it quickly became obvious to me, even as a teenager, that this was an absolute sham because everybody wanted to make a deal and nobody actually had any real interests at stake or real leverage other than the hollow threat to not make a deal.

This is essentially what the ISG is: Model UN for retired public servants, a bunch of people sitting around reaching meaningless compromises. There are two ways to make decisions: do what you think is right, or reach a compromise that represents a middle ground between what two or more people think is right. But consensus-based decisionmaking only has a chance at working when the people reaching the consensus actually represent the contending interests and can compel them to accept the deal.

Read on...

And on that score, the ISG is no more representative of the contending parties than I was of Botswana back in high school. Not only are the members of the ISG representative of nobody, elected by nobody and answerable to nobody, but their composition includes nobody from the military, no real left-wingers, no libertarians, only one conservative (Ed Meese, who has little foreign affairs experience), no Israelis, no Iraqi Shi'ites, no Iraqi Sunnis, no Kurds, no Saudis (unless you count Jim Baker), no Iranians, no Syrians, etc. They're making deals with Monopoly money, but they can't make anybody accept the whole deal, which means they ended up proposing an unprincipled compromise as the starting point for negotiations.

They probably didn't even get any decent parties out of it.

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The Model ISG 23 Comments (0 topical, 23 editorial, 0 hidden) Post a comment »

And absolutely on point.

"But consensus-based decisionmaking only has a chance at working when the people reaching the consensus actually represent the contending interests and can compel them to accept the deal."

Once you put it that way, it becomes even harder to understand why people are taking the ISG at all seriously.

Great post.

This entire ISG report is poorly disguised plan to assist Jim Baker's employer , Saudi Arabia ! He picked the flunkies on the panel and already had the report written. The report is a a lets turn back the clock so the Saudi family stays in power ! Disgraceful !

For your conspiracy theory to be true, all the 9 members of the group would have to have interests invested in Saudi Arabia, and they don't.
A concensus was reached, and I doubt that Baker said to the rest of his buddies: "psst, hey buddies, why don't you reach a conclusion that is favorable to my Saudi clients?

This isn't a conspiracy. It's rank stupidity. And rank stupidity of the identical kind that Baker has been peddling for a generation.
If "pro" is the opposite of "con", what is the opposite of "progress"?

First, it is not unlikely that they do. We know that at least four do have substantial Saudi contacts and interests. Staff was provided by CSIS and many of the members are members of the Council on Foreign Relations. Both CSIS and CFR have significant Saudi contacts and CSIS has significant Saudi funding.

Second, we know that the drive was to achieve consensus. All you need is a few holdouts and the rest to go along.

I'm not saying it is a Saudi plot but to say that this report isn't a carbon copy of Saudi Middle East policy is just wrong.

is recommendation 16; Israel give back the Golan Heights and we'll ask Syria to stop helping Palastinians kill you and we might even ask Hamas to acknowledge your right to exist.

The only thing more stupid than the ISG is the next thing Jimmy Carter says..

-Miles Christianus
The U.S. Constitution - It's in there; look it up.

reminds me of nothing more than listening to post-Iron Curtain Marxists:

"There's no fundamental flaw in our ideology. If Communist governments would have carried out Marxism correctly, and Capitalist states hadn't messed things up, and if The Revolution had had more time to get through its growing pains, Communism would've worked out great!"

Oh, the pain of being right when the facts have somehow all conspired to make you look wrong. Yep, sounds like it's time for y'all to get together with your Marxist dopplegangers to form a utopian ideologues support group.

Envisioning when all that is Left is the Right.

you'd know that a lot of us are very displeased with the way Iraq has been handled. Me especially. On the other hand, the ISG report is not the way out of the wilderness.

I'd elaborate, but memory serves me today - something about pearls before swine. And please be offended, it was meant that way.
If "pro" is the opposite of "con", what is the opposite of "progress"?

That's a fundamental parallel. Both you and they attribute the failure of your utopian schemes to the execution, not the broader plan.

If "pro" is the opposite of "con", what is the opposite of "progress"?

I'll keep lurking, but I won't further interrupt your delusions. Though witty and insightful analysis like that does entice me to stay.

that if you even attempted to add to the discussion you'd be quite welcome here. We have any number of liberal posters who add a great deal to the conversation. They have a couple of things going for them you don't seem to understand/have, however. First of all, they're reasonably to very intelligent and can logically assemble an argument on an issue and communicate it. Secondly, they are polite.

You, based on your two magnanimous comments, are neither intelligent, logical or able to communicate. You are also a jerk.
If "pro" is the opposite of "con", what is the opposite of "progress"?

Huh. I was just going to make him or her apologize for ignorantly comparing the readers of this site with the adherents of an ideology whose death toll easily reached 8 figures and possibly 9.

Ach, well. Probably for the best, anyway.

The Fuzzy Puppy of the VRWC.

he didn't send a committee.

Envisioning when all that is Left is the Right.

"No compromise with the main purpose, no peace till victory, no pact with unrepentant wrong." - Winston Churchill

it is clear these self-appointed, self-anointed "Distinguished Public Servants" went in with the objective to come out with a piece of paper. so they did. mission accomplished.

second objective - fawning, uncritical commentary from the drive-by media. mission accomplished.

third objective - undermine the presidency of George W. Bush.
mission accomplished.

Rush quoted Lady Thatcher yesterday about "consensus decision-making". Her comment was something along these lines - "consensus is something no one believes in and everybody supports"

is that they all already fundamentally agreed on the answers without knowing the questions. The group needed only one member, as they are all functionally each other's bobbleheads.

Evil men hide from the truth, but good men stand upon it.

was to come up with a strategy that the United States could persue to advance American interests. If it doesn't make sense to allow Israelis, Iraqis, Saudis to vote in American elections and take part in the American government, then I don't see how it would make sense to include them on a panel such as the ISG.

let's assume for the sake of argument that I agree with your premise, to wit:

The goal of the ISG was to come up with a strategy that the United States could persue to advance American interests.

I don't believe that to be the case but I'll stipulate it for the moment.

In developing that strategy they require Israel, Syria, Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia to carry out various actions: like a comprehensive land for peace deal between Syria and Israel.

You do see where requiring parties who are not represented in the negotiations and over whom we have very little leverage to carry out specific acts, acts which would be politically unpopular in those countries, is a non-starter. (This is sort of the flip side to your "vote in American elections and take part in the American government" argument)

The fact that these various nations did not even have staff involved in this plan, other than the Saudis who sent Jim Baker, doesn't lead one to believe this is a serious report by serious people.

From what I'm hearing, it sounds like they might not have even reached a consensus. More like they played the computer from Paranoia: Whatever was programmed in was spit back out, even if it was contradictory.

People are diasppointed that there wasn't some magical solution in the report. It shows the psychology of today. Every issue should be solved w/in a one hour show. War is ugly. Freedom is hard work.

I can't believe the Bush admin allowed the "Stay the course" phrase be distorted and morphed by MSM into doing the same thing over and over. Just like "Mission Accomplished" being spun negatively, "Stay the course" no longer means continue towards victory but means we can't win.

If you always find yourself arguing the exceptions rather than the rule you just might be rapidly sliding down your own slippery slope to irrelevance. -CommonCents

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