November 14, 2006
MICHAEL KINSLEY WONDERS WHO ELECTED THE BAKER COMMISSION:
If we had wanted our country to be run by James Baker, we had our chance. He was interested in running for president in 1996 but discovered that his interest in a James Baker presidency was not widely shared. . . . People like Baker always favor a bipartisan consensus.
They don't really believe in politics, which is to say they don't really believe in democracy.
In this, "people like Baker" make up a large part of the political/journalistic class.
UPDATE: Greg Djerejian takes a more positive view of the Baker Commission: "A huge challenge, to be sure, but the good news is that the last best hope for Iraq might well involve a mixture of policy positions some of which are popular with Democrats and others with Republicans."
ANOTHER UPDATE: Related thoughts from Jon Henke, who thinks that Nancy Pelosi might be onto something by saying Iraq isn't a war: "If it were a war, we could win it by killing people and blowing stuff up. While security problems necessarily involve the occasional application of force, the dominant difficulties in Iraq simply aren't force-on-force problems. The remaining problems are sociopolitical. No amount of firepower is going to resolve the intractable conflicts of interest between the Shiites and the Sunnis, or between various subgroups. No US troop level will convince the rival Iraqi factions that pluralism is better than asserting their own interests. They'll either find it in their interest to moderate. . .or they won't."
I think that's right -- as I've said before, it's a political rather than a military issue, which is why I've been unpersuaded by the more-troops argument. We'd prefer for Iraq to be a military problem rather than a political/diplomatic one because . . . well, because we have a lot better military than we have politicians or diplomats. Though I have to admit that the Sunnis haven't been as smart about things as I'd thought they would be, either.
MORE: Various readers call foul, noting that Greg Djerejian's father is the director of the Baker Institute. I thought everybody knew that.