I’d been worried that the Iraq Study Group would come out with some version of a Last Big Push recommendation, which Bush would embrace, leaving the Democrats on the Hill to either capitulate and own the war or resist and allow the Republicans to blame them for the all-but-inevitable defeat.
I’m not firmly against leaving some troops there for a while; as horrible as our occupation has turned out to be for Iraq, I can imagine that our withdrawal could make things worse rather than better. (Churchill once said of Lenin that the only event in Russian history more disastrous than his birth was his death.)
But even an Administration more skillful at diplomacy than this one (and could there possibly be an Administration less skillful?) would have a hard time getting anything useful out of Syria and Iran, two of the key players. We’re not holding many cards; worse than that, we’re known not to be holding many cards. And George W. Bush has spent five years convincing the rest of the world that the United States needs taking down a peg. So diplomacy might not accomplish much, in which case leaving slowly rather than quickly just incurs more casualties.
But the key point, as I see it, is that a group including Baker, Meese, Eagleburger, and Simpson is going to publicly admit (having more or less cleared it with the White House) that the course we’ve been staying is a road to nowhere. Sounds like progress to me.