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Iraq Study Group – Cut and Run or Duck and Cover?

February 5, 2007

I thought I would publish this unfinished post written Dec. 3 2006
regarding my thoughts on the surge. I’ll elaborate on them shortly. Was Austin Bay right or wrong?

Rob bugs me for more thoughts on the cut and run/bait and switch/duck and cover scenario presented by the ISG.

One man’s "phased withdrawal" is another one’s "cut and run". Those accusations go both ways, and I’m sure whatever happens both sides will claim victory, and crow over the defeat of the other. As I indicated in my post mid-term post, I’m taking a wait-and-see attitude. Recent developments have been discouraging however, and as I left for my Thanksgiving vacation to see my new Niece, I had to shake off dark thoughts.

Far more is at stake here than troop levels, the image of America, Bush’s legacy, the future of the Republicans or even my own vanity in being right or wrong. Whatever. That’s not what haunted me. What I think of is the Iraqi’s who supported Democracy being purged in some killing spree like Cambodia (after we broke our promises to them again). What I think of is Lebanon being given away to Syria in some grand bargain.

Link: Austin Bay Blog.

The Baker-Hamilton study group will not produce any new thinking. The U.S. military has analyzed and gamed every course of action, including cut and run. For that matter, it gamed “non-intervention” in Iraq as well.

What Baker and Hamilton provide is political cover for Democrats. Our plan has been a sound one — build Iraqi security and political institutions to the point US and coalition forces move to “strategic overwatch.” … Be prepared.  2009 is the earliest date I see strategic overwatch beginning — and that assumes Pelosi and her clan don’t go with Murtha and Cindy Sheehan.


Which is where Baker-Hamilton comes in. Baker-Hamilton is an academic committee. I guarantee the John Kerry-level strategic geniuses who participated in the study have radically differing views of the issues, different definitions of problems, and a spectrum of mutually-incoherent policy prescriptions. (Like I said, it’s an academic committee.) My bet is the Baker-Hamilton “consensus” will ultimately reflect Jim Baker’s and Lee Hamilton’s two-man consensus (in other words, truth in packaging unusual in government and academia).

If we are lucky, the Baker-Hamilton magic show will drop a scarf over the top hat and with a the ”poof” of a New York Times headline produce a “unifying” policy of words that will let the Democrats join the war, despite the howls of their blogosphere nutsroots.

Then the military will continue to do what it’s been doing in Iraq and Afghanistan and the new Iraqi government will continue to learn by doing — and in the ordeal of war that will mean learn by bleeding, suffering, and sweating.

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