The Mordor Study Group

Transcript from a Dec. 18 session.

By T.A. Frank

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JAMES BAKER: I want to thank you all for being here. We took some heat for our work on Iraq, but I still think most Americans thought it was valuable. Now, we turn our attention to a new problem. Again, our mandate isn’t to examine how we got into Mordor or to rehash the intelligence leading up to the War of the Ring. I agree things would be different had we known there was, in fact, no ring. But our job, now, is to use your wisdom to help the president create a stable, self-governing Mordor and to expedite a proper transfer of power to the Orcs.
LEE HAMILTON: I’ll second my distinguished colleague, and I’m proud to have such wise luminaries on this commission. People like Vernon Jordan, Sandra Day O’Connor and Chuck Robb will offer valuable, bipartisan expertise on how to stabilize Middle Earth. And I think in confronting a ferocious Mordorian insurgency we’re blessed to have the advice of Leon Panetta. Now, I’d like to open the floor for some questions to our wise panelists. Subscribe Online & Save 33%

VERNON JORDAN: Mordor. That’s the place with the pointy-eared people, right? I think we have some clients there.
JAMES BAKER: No, that’s Dorwinion, with the elves.
VERNON JORDAN: Oh, right. Good wine there.
SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR: I thought that was Erebor.
LEON PANETTA: I recently gave a speech in Erebor. Good golfing.
WILLIAM PERRY: Are we going to travel to Mordor?
LEE HAMILTON: At least once, hopefully, and that should bring you up to speed. We’re also going to try to see the area outside Mount Doom if we can arrange for security. I think it’s important we meet with ordinary Orcs.
ALAN SIMPSON: Honestly, folks, I don’t know squat about Mordor.
JAMES BAKER: No worries, Al. You’re here because of your good sense.
EDWIN MEESE: Then why am I here?
JAMES BAKER: Don’t know, Ed.
SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR: I’d like some recommendations for reading up on Mordor.
EDWIN MEESE: I find Wikipedia really helpful. Also, there’s my 2004 book, Leadership, Ethics and Policing.
CHUCK ROBB: Is that about Mordor?
EDWIN MEESE: No, but it provides a helpful insight into my thinking.
ALAN SIMPSON: I recommend my own book. It’s called Right in the Old Gazoo: A Lifetime of Scrapping with the Press.
CHUCK ROBB: Is that about Mordor?
ALAN SIMPSON: Not at all. But you’ll appreciate that I’m down-to-earth and plain-spoken.
LAWRENCE EAGLEBURGER: I’m still worried that the north might attempt to secede and draw us into conflict with neighboring states like Rohan. There’s a lot of bad feeling.
JAMES BAKER: Well, that’s why it’s so important to bring actors to the table. We know that the freed slaves of Núrn are still resentful about generations of being forced to farm for the Orc armies, but we’re still hoping for a coalition Orc-Slave-of-Núrn government. Apart from several millennia of exploitation and hatred, they have some shared interests.
WILLIAM PERRY: I’m curious about your talks with neighboring countries. I read that you’ve had several meetings with representatives from Gondor.
JAMES BAKER: I have. I’ve also met with the foreign minister of the Dead Marshes. The tough part is that his president denies the existence of the moon and drinks mercury.
LEON PANETTA: I think a lot of what we do in Mordor depends on the next six months. That’s what Friedman says today.
LEE HAMILTON: Hmm, that’s very wise. And you’re wise to quote it. But we’ll be here well over six months anyway.
EDWIN MEESE: Hey, pardon me, but I’m actually pretty sick of those Orcs. Let’s beef up our forces and kick some ass.
LEE HAMILTON: Hang on, Ed. To tell you the truth, that doesn’t sound very bipartisan.
WILLIAM PERRY: Yeah, Ed. Plus Mordor’s screwed. I vote we get the hell out of there by early 2008.
JIM BAKER: Whoa there, Bill, that’s not very bipartisan either. I thought we discussed the importance of bipartisanism. Anyway, this is my commission. I get to decide on troops.
LEE HAMILTON: Hold on, Jim. It’s my commission, too.
SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR: Maybe we should just not mention troop levels. Let’s just sort of, you know, write around it.
WILLIAM PERRY: That’s very wise, Sandy.
ALAN SIMPSON: Or we could say we forgot.
JAMES BAKER: No, we can’t do that. Let’s say that we should withdraw some number of troops at some time.
LAWRENCE EAGLEBURGER: You mean a set number of troops at a definite time?
JAMES BAKER: No. I mean we withdraw a set number of troops at an indefinite time.
LEE HAMILTON: Or we withdraw an indefinite number of troops at a set time.
JAMES BAKER: That works too. As long as we don’t rule out adding forces, too.
LEE HAMILTON: Not at all. As long as we withdraw them, too. At some time.
JAMES BAKER: Let’s say at least 10 brigades should be withdrawn sometime.
LAWRENCE EAGLEBURGER: Wait. Is that saying anything?
JAMES BAKER: It’s saying everything.
LEE HAMILTON: Indeed. And in a quite bipartisan way. It’s very wise.
EDWIN MEESE: Let’s call it the Meese Report.


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T.A. Frank is a consulting editor of The Washington Monthly.  
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