Anti-war Democrats should be very concerned that the Democrats on the
Baker-Hamilton Study Group may give up the fight for a phased withdrawal
from Iraq for the sake of "consensus." If they do so, they will have
weakened the position of those Democrats in the Senate and House who favor
at least the beginning of withdrawal this coming year.
Fearing the conclusions of the Study Group, both the White House and
Pentagon have set up study groups of their own. But most Democrats are
depending, apparently, on the Study Group's work itself. That risks the
result that withdrawal will fall outside the "bipartisan consensus." Reports
so far indicate that the Study Group may fail to reach consensus on
Crucial Democrats like former President Clinton are meeting behind closed
doors with the Study Group, presumably sharing the view that "we're not
there yet," that is, at a point when withdrawal becomes necessary. [see New
Yorker interview, Sept. 18, 2006]
Democrats on the Study Group need to consider to their Party's
rank-and-file, the majority of party leaders, and the interests of our
country by simply saying No to any proposal by James Baker that fails to
include beginning the process of withdrawal.
Some Democrats may want to use James Baker as a shield from charges that
they favor cut-and-run. In the process these Democrats could watch Baker
take the anti-war issue away from the Democrats without actually ending the
war and bringing the troops home. Baker is widely credited for managing the
Republican presidential victory in 2000. It would be ironic this time if
he manages to disarm the Democrats over Iraq by incorporating them in a
bipartisan diplomatic consensus.
Proposing diplomatic initiatives towards Iran and Syria will not end the
presence of 144,000 US troops in Iraq who are being killed at a rate of 100
per month. It is a pseudo-solution to the war that neatly places the
Baker-Hamilton Study Group in the middle between anti-Iran factions in the
White House and pro-withdrawal factions in the Congress. It only postpones
the inevitable, the need to exit Iraq before the blood of war spills over
into the national presidential election.