A bi-partisan commission co-chaired by James A. Baker III has been formed to offer the White House options between "stay the course" and "cut and
run." Mr. Baker was chief of staff and secretary of state to President George H.W. Bush, and has close ties to the GOP.
Baker did not disclose specific proposals that might be adopted by the commission, which plans to issue its report after the November congressional
elections. But his remarks Sunday on the ABC's "This Week" were the latest in which a high-profile Republican has seemed to say it is time for the
administration to consider other alternatives in Iraq.
White House spokesman Tony Snow said that when the commission makes its proposals, "We are going to take them seriously." Asked if the administration
would make changes after the election, Snow said "There are tactical and strategic changes and adjustments that are made all the time. That's the
nature of a war."
The mounting U.S. costs of the Iraq war -- more than $300 billion and more than 2,700 American troops dead -- has taken a toll on Bush's popularity
ratings and on Republican prospects for retaining control of Congress in the Nov. 7 elections.
Agreeing in part with Bush, Baker said "if we picked up and left right now" Iraq would be plunged into "the biggest civil war you've ever seen," with
Turkey, Iran, Syria and other neighboring countries getting involved.
But he made it clear that the commission would advise changes in U.S. strategy, nevertheless.
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I see this as a positive. Mr. Baker has impeccable GOP credentials, but is also described as being "pragmatic." We need an acceptable middle-ground
option on Iraq, and the WOT in general, that will help re-unite this government and this country and break the gridlock in Congress and at the White
We are currently headed stubbornly in the wrong direction, and we need to change course, significantly, not "stay the course."
We can't afford to "cut and run," either. I think we all know, in the long run, that would be even more disasterous than our current course.
We are trapped by the rhetoric surrounding these two mutually exclusive positions, and we must break through the defensive postures and seize the high
ground in the "No Man's Land" of politics and public opinion that is polarizing and poisoning the governing process in this country.