Sunday November 19, 2006
"For Americans, Iraq has ceased to be a video game running along the edge of public consciousness. The midterm congressional elections demonstrate that the US public wants to get out of Iraq almost as much as the British, as does the attention suddenly given to the Baker-Hamilton Commission, which was actually set up months ago.
But how is exit to be accomplished? Clearly the White House does not know, nor does the US army. The Baker-Hamilton Commission is unlikely to know, as its members were chosen because they represent the higher reaches of the conventional wisdom.
Yet the impression the Bush administration now gives is that the whole matter has been put into the hands of Baker's group - which is ridiculous, especially as the President continues to declare that inviting Iran and Syria to help stabilise Iraq is unacceptable; he is against talking to them, and says he still expects 'victory'. If so, what is the purpose of the commission?
So this is the situation in which both the administration and most of the Democratic opposition find themselves. The existing policy is a failure, yet nothing can be changed because no one can imagine a valid alternative. American intentions and actions have, it is held, been correct, their goals irreproachable.
If anyone is to blame it is the Iraqis, who failed to seize the wonderful opportunity the United States offered them. Neocons are now saying that the Iraqis did not deserve our help. Some suggest they are an inferior breed."