Baker Commission, Isn't It Obvious?

This whole charade of the Baker Commission really irritates me. I listened to Baker on the Daily Show tonight and while I have a very healthy respect for Mr. Baker (as should we all, like him or not) I was very troubled. When Stewart would ask, “what’s in the report?” Baker simply repeated, “after the election John.”

Now, I don’t know about you but I remember the 2002 election where the Republicans forced the Congress into a debate on an authorization to use force against Iraq. The constant refrain was, “let’s have the debate now, the country deserves it. Better before the election, not after, so as to hold politicians accountable and have an honest debate.”

Do you remember that? I sure do. Now, in a sense the feckless Democrats got what they deserved. Daschle and Gephardt? Who remembers those losers, right? But at the same time, if these Democrats, especially Harry Reid, had any real skill, they would be alluding to the Baker Commission and the only realistic conclusion that the Commission will come to, all the time. (And don’t get me started on the moderate Republicans.)

The outline of the Commission’s conclusions will be something like this: a tri-partite Confederated Iraq, with each confederate party largely autonomous; American forces, in small numbers will remain behind in Kurdistan (and possibly elsewhere if political considerations warrant) to both keep the Kurds from declaring independence and to project power. Think Germany after WWII: American troops were there to keep the Germans down and the Russians out, same principal with the Kurds and Turkey. Finally, there will be some kind of a phased withdrawal, strategic redeployment, retreat or whatever you want to call the day when the vast majority of our troops bug out of Iraq.

The withdrawal will be the most contentious issue but it’s the easiest to predict. There will be arbitrary metrics of success to be met before a troop draw-down can begin. Once the metrics are met the politicians declare victory and the troops go home. Of course, we won’t meet any of the metrics because they will be easily fudged (Iraq meet Enron). And once again the Republicans will have, for all intents and purposes, stolen Jack Murtha’s idea, although with a bit more polish.

This should be a brickbat the Democrats should beat over Bush’s head. A simple refrain really, “release the commission conclusions and let’s debate them before the election. After all the American people deserve a real choice.”

The other wildcard is Bush himself. Will he take Baker’s advice? Or will he stay true to his nature, as Atrios predicts?

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Sean Paul Kelley

Traveler of the (real) Silk Road, scholar and historian, photographer and writer - founder of The Agonist.

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  • When Nixon was running for president he told the American people he had a plan for Viet Nam and how to get out. But he would not tell until after the elections, he said. I thought “gosh, Dick, tell us now, why wait, let’s get out of there”. You know the rest of the story.

  • I seem to recall that it was Henry Kissinger who admitted after the US retreat from South Vietnam that Nixon had no plan for successfully ending the Vietnam War during that campaign. It was all a lie, from the gitgo. People just wanted to believe that the situation could be rescued from the terminal condition it appeared to be in by the summer of 1968 at some bearable cost. Of course, nobody ever mentioned that Westmoreland had come back to the US around that time with a plan to increase ground troop deployments to something like 1 million men, which promptly got tossed as the dreams of a madman and certified his termination as commander as soon as possible. The ticket punchers never did learn.

    In one respect, the disaster in Iraq is Bill Clinton’s fault. When the military brass started dissing him in 1993, he should have taken the courageous path and fired ever general officer above one-star level. He should have cleaned house and asked for fresh ideas. He could have shaken up the Pentagon enough to dump the ticket punchers who were only good at playing politics and terminate their brood of attendants who went on lead us into this Iraqi quagmire. Of course, this isn’t the failure that the Bushistas usually think of when they play the blame game with Clinton.

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