Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Yesterday's news?

How interesting. It looks as if the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group report, out today, already feels like yesterday's news, or a footnote to history, what with all the leaks in advance and the frenzied commentary. I haven't found the full report on the Web yet, but I will, and as usual, I'll be conscientious enough to read pretty much the whole thing.

What I wonder -- and doubt -- is whether it will deal with the core question most people are trying to avoid. What if Maliki's government, which is something of a fiction anyway, noticeably falls apart? The problem with the Iraqi army is not its level of training, but its loyalty. Most of the units now are suspected to be essentially sectarian militias rather than arms of a "unity government," as the president continues, against all evidence to the contrary, to call it. He seems to prefer a fantasy-world to the real world, and maybe he's virtually incapable of recognizing reality when he sees it. But whhat if even the fiction of a national government disappears over the next few months?

Do we get the hell out, join one of the sides (probably the Shia, a genuinely catastrophic idea), or hunker down on the relatively isolated and reasonably secure bases in the countryside, hoping to mediate (sometimes forcefully) among the inevitable incursions from Iran, Syria, Jordan Saudi Arabia, etc?

None of the options looks especially attractive.

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