Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Baker Report: To The Left, So What?

The reaction of the left to the ISG report is a bit baffling. Many see it as face saving for a failed administration. Many more see it as too little too late. Many just see through a prism that is found more frequently on the left these days. If it doesn't cover everything we determine is important, it's just not good enough.

A few items in the report where the left should agree.
  • Iraq is a disaster
  • The primary cause is sectarian violence, not al-Qaida
  • Current policy is not working and should be changed
  • Troops should be withdrawn
  • Resources should be redirected to Afghanistan

Given there are so many points of view advocated by the left explicity stated in this report, its a bit shocking to see it roundly denegrated.

It is true many of the findings of the report have been known for years. Some of them espoused on this very blog. Frustration that no one listens until a blue ribbon commission comes along to give blessing is understandable. But instead of pooh-poohing the politics of the situation, the left should be celebrating the fact that it was likely the continued pressure for realistic assessments that led us to this point.

It is tragic every time a soldier dies. 10 more died in Iraq today. But the fact is any tactician will tell you withdrawal in the face of enemy forces is the most dangerous maneuver. It is delicate and it is time consuming. Immediate and absolute withdrawal might prevent deaths in the present but possibly would defer those deaths to the future as one of any horrific scenarios comes to fruition in the rapid vacuum we would leave. We had our chance at rapid withdrawal years ago and for not taking that opportunity the Bush administration should be held accountable. In the present, however, its simply no longer a reasonable option.

The troops are coming home. Not as fast as some of you may like, but they are coming home.

If it takes the blessing of some "grand old men" (and one woman) to get our boys and girls home as soon as possible, so what?


Sara said...

This is a problem I often have with inflexible political types. When you can get your opponent to adopt your policy agenda, you win. Even if your opponent obtains a positive response from the public (or at a minimum, cover) and even if it denies you a future wedge issue, what politicians should always be hoping for is to get their opponent to adopt their policy positions and thus help make them official government action.

During the election, what the left wanted by and large was the U.S. out of Iraq and our troops out of harm's way. This report advocates a substantial progress in that direction, and they should be happy to see it. But this is where I think good politics and good policy unfortunately have diverged.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Grift, hook, line and sinker.