Oh ... it will be spun -- "this is not 'cut and run',"; the difference between "withdrawal" and "strategic redeployment" will be chewed over in the kinds of Western bureaucratic venues where they think this distinction matters. But the deep unseriousness of the Baker-Hamilton report is contained in just two facts:
First of all, it seems to have some notion that negotiations with Iran and Syria will be helpful to the U.S. stance in Iraq or any conceivable U.S.-acceptable Iraqi government. That this is an utter pipe dream was shown even before the report was released. It's not that the panel is proposing a bad idea, but that they do not realize that to propose it now, with the US obviously preparing the way for bugging out, is to reveal a deep deep DEEP ignorance of the nature of power politics and the role of ideology (particularly strong in the case of the Islamist regime in Tehran). The US has been defeated. Iran and Syria have gotten what they want vis-a-vis us -- our humiliation and discrediting. Why should they now negotiate, except maybe to ratify their victory? We're in the position of the Germans calling for negotiations after the Battle of the Bulge.
And second, the panel buys into the false narrative that the Iraqi civil war (much less the general disaster that is Dar Al-Islam) is in some serious sense the result of the Palestinian refugee crisis of 1948. But far worse, it tries to put on the table a "Right of Return" (and using the "Palestinian" nomenclature, BTW). At an absolute immediate minimum, creating such a right would wipe out Israel as a Jewish state. And by creating an Arab-majority polity, it is reasonable to say that this puts Israel's whole Jewish populace on the road to the sword. But hey, as Baker has said, "fuck the Jews, they didn't vote for us."
The real hell to pay though is in what this does to the image of the US and the West, and what this means for the clash of civilizations. As Osama bin Laden has said, people naturally gravitate toward the strong horse. By pulling out of Iraq, we'll have confirmed his diagnosis from the Black Hawk Down fight in Somalia, that the US is a paper tiger, and that Islam's jihadists (of whatever particular variety -- and I'm aware there are many, some of whom can't stand each other) can even defeat the mightiest armies of the great superpower, Insha'allah. He has shown that the polytheist infidels are weak and decadent, and need only to be pushed and fall over before they crack. Rod Dreher wrote the following at Beliefnet yesterday (before the ellipse, Rod is quoting someone else):
We separationists affirm the following:As I told him in the Combox ... 5 does follow, if 1-4 are true (and I affirm them all, as he does). The Iraq war was, among other things, an attempt to rebut 3. But really important things like bringing down Chimpy McHallibush have taken that off the table for the foreseeable future.
1. Islam is a mortal threat to our civilization.
2. But we cannot destroy Islam.
3. Nor can we democratize Islam.
4. Nor can we assimilate Islam.
5. Therefore the only way to make ourselves safe from Islam is to separate ourselves from Islam.
Hmm. I believe 1, 2, 3 and 4, with caveats. ... But I can't affirm No. 5, though I freely admit that I don't know whether the premises don't support the conclusion, or whether it's because I don't want it to be true. Which, if it's the latter, is pathetic.
I once told Rod that in the long run, we really only have three options; turning the Middle East into a glass pancake; accepting September 11th's as annual events; or re-forming the political culture of Islam, which the war was (supposed to be) one step among many. And so we had to fight the Iraq war because only the last was morally acceptable and the process had to start, under our suzerainty, if need me (I acknowledge I didn't think of deporting all Muslims and cutting the Middle East off from Christendom). Our Iraq defeat means we've now acknowledged that we can't change them by force -- for a variety of reasons, of which their own recondite culture is just one among several.
Thus, I think our choices are now as follows: frequent 9/11-scale massacres; nuclear war against Islam; isolation of Islam. Because nothing we say and attempt to back with threats will be believed for the foreseeable future. We are in a bazaar with nothing to bargain with.