Bush and Maliki Meet, Baker Report Gets Leaked

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Nov 30, 2006 11:53 AM

Bush and Maliki were side-by-side today, after a leaked memo from NSA and a rescheduled meeting between the two had folks talking up tensions:

President Bush delivered a staunch endorsement of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki Thursday morning and dismissed calls for U.S. troop withdrawals from Iraq as unrealistic, following a summit meeting in which the two leaders discussed cracking down on sectarian violence and speeding the turnover of security responsibilities.

"He's the right guy for Iraq," Bush said an a news conference in the Jordanian capital, as he stood next to a somewhat stiff and unsmiling Iraqi premier.

Some of the Baker Commission recommendations were leaked last night, prior to the Maliki meeting. Allah:

Update: “It is neither ‘cut and run’ nor ’stay the course,’” one source told the Times. Right, which is way both sides will hate it.

The military end recommends that roughly half the troops in country redeploy “soon,” hopefully starting sometime next year, either to bases elsewhere in Iraq or the Middle East or all the way home. Which of the three it ends up being will obviously depend on how hairy things are six months or so from now. The other half would stay behind and embed with Iraqi troops in support roles and as instructors, and some would comprise a rapid reaction force. Quote:

[I]t was the military recommendations that prompted the most debate, people familiar with the deliberations said. They said a draft report put together under the direction of Mr. Baker and Mr. Hamilton had collided with another, circulated by other Democrats on the commission, that included an explicit timeline calling for withdrawal of the combat brigades to be completed by the end of next year. In the end, the two proposals were blended.

That’s not a war plan, it’s a deal. How many Iraqi troops do they think are going to hang around waiting to be trained if all-out civil war begins between Sunnis and Shiites? If you’re not going to send American forces after the militias in earnest then you’re abandoning Iraqis to their fate whether or not you’re still physically there on the ground with them. It’s the ultimate manifestation of war by half-measures — almost literally, as it turns out.

And, Bush:

Although the president was not asked directly about the panel's recommendations, which will be made public next week but were partially leaked to reporters late Wednesday, he seemed to have the group in mind when he said: "This business about graceful exit just simply has no realism to it whatsoever."