The New York Times reports today that “a growing number of senators from both parties are making a new push to adopt the [Iraq Study Group’s] recommendations into law.” The Washington Post’s Fred Hiatt claims in today’s column that “everyone agrees” on the Baker-Hamilton approach.
The middle-ground proposal, introduced by Sens. Ken Salazar (D-CO) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN), has been touted as a “compromise” between the President’s stay-course-strategy and a phased redeployment.
But as Center for American Progress Senior Fellow Lawrence Korb, who formerly served as a Pentagon official in the Reagan administration, explains in today’s NY Daily News, the Baker-Hamilton recommendations “are now far too weak a prescription for the dire situation that faces us on the ground in Iraq”:
A cursory reading of the report might give one the impression that adopting its recommendations would result in a serious change of policy. After all, it calls for transitioning U.S. forces away from combat missions, accelerating the training of Iraqi forces and focusing more on regional diplomacy.
But look closer. While the Iraq Study Group does call for withdrawing some American troops in the spring of 2008, it conditions that withdrawal on the Iraqi government accomplishing a host of objectives.
But those are the very same benchmarks Bush is already using to measure our progress and using as a condition of withdrawal. The initial assessment report the White House released late last week makes clear that none of these benchmarks has been fully met, and on only half of these have the Iraqis made any progress.
Inexplicably, Salazar has argued that the Baker-Hamilton measure is the “right thing” because “there are people on both sides who don’t like it.”
As Korb explains though, the so-called “compromise” offered by Salazar and Alexander is toothless and does not constitute the true departure from the President’s failed policies that is needed. Instead, Congress should embrace the Levin-Reed amendment and start to “strategically reset” our presence in the Middle East.