“The rethinking of U.S. Iraq policy represented by the Baker-Hamilton report is an important and welcome start but insufficiently radical if Iraq’s collapse and an unprecedented regional war are to be avoided,” writes the International Crisis Group by way of introducing their report on the situation. I concur. The White House, meanwhile, believes that Baker-Hamilton goes too far. They believe that things are basically fine in Iraq. The improvement that needs to be made, says the White House, is that we should send the new rotation of troops into Iraq on schedule. Those troops are supposed to relieve troops who are already there. Which is where the White House plan comes in . . . if the troops who are supposed to get relieved just . . . stay in Iraq for a while, then — like magic! — we have more troops in Iraq.
This is the “surge” option that, apparently, the Joint Chiefs of Staff oppose on the grounds that the White House has no particular mission in mind for the surged troops and is just looking for a policy that sounds good while remaining committed to an open-ended occupation of Iraq.