The Corner

Let the surrender begin

This Baker-Hamilton recommendation, if the New York Times report is accurate, is a disaster. It represents, as Cliff noted earlier, the establishment quitting on the war. If you have combat brigades retreat to their bases in Iraq (the least bad of the options for withdrawal), you might as well just have them leave entirely. The problem in Iraq is that our forces have been able to clear, but not hold, because they have insufficient numbers. Now Baker-Hamilton wants them to stop clearing too. This recommendation is the worst sort of bi-partisan commission difference-splitting. Confronted with a split over whether to quit in Iraq or not to quit, the commission has decided to sort of quit. But sort of quitting will only hasten the day that we quit entirely, because it will almost certainly lead to a further deterioration on the ground and politically in Iraq. I thought maybe Bush could swallow a little Baker-Hamilton–some kind of fig-leaf talks with Iran or Syria–in the cause of embracing its recommendation that we not leave Iraq. But now it seems clear that there will be nothing good in the report. Bush will have to stash the thing in a drawer somewhere. But while he may well do that, the important thing is to watch the Trent Lott’s of the world. If they embrace the report, that’s a sign Republican politicians are ready to quit on Iraq and on Bush. Politically here in the U.S., that will really be the beginning of the end. And James Baker is supposed to be a Bush family friend?

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