George Bush has a history of long-overdue u-turns.And one hell of a U-turn it will be. The Baker-Hamilton commission did get one thing right.
But Bush has never had to pull off a U-turn like the one he is contemplating now: to give up on his dream of turning Babylon into an oasis of freedom and democracy and instead begin a staged withdrawal from Iraq, rewrite the mission of the 150,000 U.S. troops there as they begin to draw down, and launch a diplomatic Olympics across the Middle East and between Israel and the Palestinians. Even calling all that a reversal is a misnomer; it would be more like a personality transplant.
So it may take the 43rd President a little more time than it normally does to execute this particular U-turn. And he will do all he can to make it look more like a lane change. But sometime in the next month or so, Bush will begin the biggest foreign policy course correction of his presidency. No matter what else may get stapled onto it, the maneuver will be based on the agreement reached by the bipartisan commission led by former Secretary of State James Baker III and former Indiana Congressman Lee Hamilton.
While there will be no lights flashing or sirens wailing, the commission is proposing nothing short of a repudiation of pretty much all U.S. foreign policy for the past three years.
In The Realists' Repudiation Of Policies for a War, Region Glenn Kessler and Thomas E. Ricks also make the point that if nothing else the commission's report is a direct frontal assault on the Cheney/neocon foreign policy.
From the very first page, in which co-chairmen James A. Baker III and Lee H. Hamilton scold that "our leaders must be candid and forthright with the American people," the bipartisan report is nothing less than a repudiation of the Bush administration's diplomatic and military approach to Iraq and to the whole region.
Throughout its pages, the report reflects the foreign policy establishment's disdain for the "neoconservative" policies long espoused by President Bush and his aides. But while many of its recommendations stem from the "realist" school of foreign policy, it is unclear at this point whether a radically different approach would make much difference nearly four years after the invasion of Iraq.
As for the commission's recommendations, will they work? Of course not. Michael Gordon explains why but what he misses is that the commission knows they won't work, Iraq is simply too far gone.
Ever since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the United States has struggled in vain to tamp down the violence in Iraq and to build up the capacity of Iraq’s security forces. Now the study group is positing that the United States can accomplish in little more than one year what it has failed to carry out in three.Many now realize that victory in Iraq will be preventing the chaos and death in Iraq from spreading to the rest of the region - a continuation of the 1,400 year old war between the Shiites and the Sunnis.