Et tu BrookeThis is

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Et tu, Brooke?

This is interesting. Brookings is still often considered the centrist-liberal prestige think tank in Washington. But Brookings actually played a pretty key role in building support for the Iraq War in 2002 and 2003, particularly through Brookings scholars Ken Pollack and Michael O’Hanlon. (ed.note: Full disclosure, at the time I favorably reviewed Pollack’s book and interviewed him, I believe twice, for TPM.)

Now, however, Brookings is hosting an Iraq policy briefing on possible ways forward in Iraq in which the one speaker is AEI ‘scholar’ Frederick Kagan, who’s pushing his study Choosing Victory: A Plan for Success in Iraq. Here’s the blurb from the Brookings email …

The war in Iraq has reached a critical juncture. With the mission faltering, popular and Congressional pressure on the administration to redefine US objectives and commit to reducing troop numbers in Iraq is growing. This approach has taken on added impetus with the recent release of the Baker-Hamilton report, whose suggestions parallel public opinion. In contrast, a group led by Frederick Kagan under the auspices of the American Enterprise Institute has recently released a study proposing a radically new approach for stabilizing Iraq, titled Choosing Victory: A Plan for Success in Iraq. The report proposes shifting the focus of the American military from training Iraqi forces to securing the Iraqi population and containing the escalating violence and increasing American combat forces in Iraq by roughly 30,000 troops. The report lays out why the AEI team believes such an increase would be useful and sustainable for the American military over the long-term.

Frederick Kagan, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, will present the recommendations elaborated in the AEI report and Michael O’Hanlon, Director of Research for the Brookings 21st Century Defense Initiative will provide commentary. Kenneth M. Pollack, Director of Research of the Saban Center at Brookings, will moderate.

The discussion will take place in the Stein Room on the second floor of the Brookings Institution at 1775 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W. in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, December 21, 2006 from 2:00-3:30p.m. We look forward to seeing you there.

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.

I also hear that this is kicking up some controversy within Brookings itself. So maybe some of the friends on the inside there can drop me a line and let me know what they’re hearing.

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