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Baker Report: Nothing New Here

The "realists" sound like idealists mugged by reality: “I think everyone felt good about where we ended up,” one person involved in the commission’s debates said after the group ended its meeting. “It is neither ‘cut and run’ nor ‘stay … Read More

By / November 30, 2006

The "realists" sound like idealists mugged by reality:

“I think everyone felt good about where we ended up,” one person involved in the commission’s debates said after the group ended its meeting. “It is neither ‘cut and run’ nor ‘stay the course.’ ”

So what, then? "Melt and leak"? Sort of:

The bipartisan IraqStudy Group reached a consensus on Wednesday on a final report that will call for a gradual pullback of the 15 American combat brigades now in Iraq but stop short of setting a firm timetable for their withdrawal, according to people familiar with the panel’s deliberations….The report leaves unstated whether the 15 combat brigades that are the bulk of American fighting forces in Iraq would be brought home, or simply pulled back to bases in Iraq or in neighboring countries. (A brigade typically consists of 3,000 to 5,000 troops.) From those bases, they would still be responsible for protecting a substantial number of American troops who would remain in Iraq, including 70,000 or more American trainers, logistics experts and members of a rapid reaction force.

One benefit of keeping semi-permanent garrisons — particularly in Kurdistan and southern "Shiastan" — is that this will allow U.S. troops to further school Iraqi soldiers and civil police officers without the threat of anyone being killed during orientation week. If the goal is to protect Americans at the expense of Iraqis, then the only positive outcome short of a full or gradual withdrawal is to create a network of Fort Braggs throughout the country: fortified training bases where indigenous forces can study counter-insurgency tactics and then run right out and apply their knowledge. Peter Galbraith has been arguing something very much like this as part of his divide-and-wait scenario for a tripartite state: Keep U.S. forces in relatively safe outlying areas like Kurdistan, Kuwait, where they'll be ready at a moment's notice to rush back into main Iraq should another Fallujah or Amara convulsion take place.

 

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