David Ignatius – Baker-Hamilton Does Its Job –

Well, they’ve finally come out and stated the obvious: Iraq is a mess, one that, our behest, has created instability in the region. We have days, not months to take our heads out of the sand and change course.

Their laundry list of recommendations contains few things that are new – most of it is so common-sense that you wonder why it hasn’t been policy all along.

We already know that people on both sides are going to criticize the report as either going too far or not far enough. The question that remains to be seen is whether those that say that the MEDIA is responsible for making Iraq seem worse than it really is (the “I’ve got friends over there and they tell me things are a lot better than CNN reports” argument) will continue to willfully ignore the facts.

The first step to solving any problem is (according to AA) to admit you have one.

The thing that I was impressed with the most about this group of elder statesmen was their ability to bridge partisan divide and the desire for short-term political advantage, and come up with 79 recommendations that they unanimously supported.

If nothing else, that shows the rest of us that when serious people get together to solve a serious problem, statesmanship is still possible.


6 Responses to “Baker-Hamilton”

  1. Mamacita Says:

    The IRG is made up of elders with the values, if not the birthdates, of the Greatest Generation. They are using the values exercised by Eisenhower and the architects of the Marshall Plan, who brought democracy to Germany, Japan, and S. Korea.

  2. Em Says:

    The only thing that the report does not contain is a solution to win and that is exactly what we need.

  3. Rip Says:

    A group headed by a well-known diplomat calls for diplomacy. The insights offered by the Baker-Hamilton Commision are obviously a step up from the current Administration’s idiocy, but fell short. They fell short because of the obvious which they did not state. They failed to state that the war that’s going on is someone else’s war. Also, getting Iran and Syria at the table for discussions is not going to yield meaningful results, as their goals for Iraq (yes, other countries besides the US have goals for Iraq) are different than ours.

    Truth be told, we won the pre-war sell and then lost the grandiose (BS Neocon) vision. We won in that we achieved our goal as stated before the war, which related to preventing Saddam Hussein from possessing WMD’s. We lost in our efforts to achieve that vision which we were later offered, the vision of building a “free and peaceful” Iraq. Those two facts won’t be changed by continued American presence in the country. It’s time to pull the plug on the “We’ll stand down when they stand up” gig. Instead, we should respond with an immediate withdrawal of our troops. Not a “phased withdrawals” or other feet-shuffling. To me, “by early 2008”, as the Commission recommended, is not sooner, but most certainly later. Pack it all up and call it a day.

  4. Logipundit Says:


    Agreed on Iran and Syria, but disagreed on pulling out immediately. Whatever “vision” might have existed would be all but given up to the “vision” of Iran and Syria.

    I don’t necessarily consider that acceptable, BS Neocon or not.

    What the report DOES (and what little it does) is shift the rhetoric from, “We’re here as long as you need us until you step up,” to “We’re no longer going to be here if you don’t step up.”

    I think that’s a positive shift, although agreed, not nearly enough. An immediate withdrawal would be absolute lunacy, because THEN it would be Vietnam all over again. I’m all about looking out for US interests first (and that’s what this panel is about), but I don’t think our interests would be met in the Middle East by bailing and letting Iran and Syria have their way.

  5. scottie Says:

    The report is definitely a good start.

    I did notice that the report said that goals in the broader Middle East cannot be achieved until there is a lasting Arab-Israeli peace agreement, which meant for the current admin to adhere to its own “roadmap”, to work for a Palestinian state, for the Palestinians to be granted their right of return, for Israel to return the Golan to Syria as a dangled carrot for bringing Syria to the table for discussion.

    I must go to class, but this report reminds me why I liked George HW Bush so much more than his son ; he surrounded himself with people like James Baker, and not people like Karl Rove.

  6. Rip Says:

    As I’ve said before, I think we’re trying to blend together varied factions who will only blend in the way that Saddam was able to do it: by brute force. Also, our momentum within Iraq (in the eyes of the majority of the Iraqis) and here at home is drained. Additionally, I don’t things our military being in the country is a “stabilizing” factor and that our departure will result in widespread regional chaos.

    However, there’s no doubting that we are going to stay for a while (since no important Democrat or Republican has yet suggested otherwise). So, the reality check on our earlier vision provided by the Commission is an important step. And, I guess that having Iran/Syria at the table, if we are willing to make real compromises with their interests, could contribute to progress. However, considering our existing qualms with those countries, that’s a BIG IF.

    Lastly, I agree that it’s good to see the Commission trying to relay the importance of the conflict to the bigger picture situation in the region. Iraq is not “in a box”.

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