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.”
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