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Baker-Hamilton Commission on Iraq reports

By John E. Carey - posted Monday, 11 December 2006

Nearly four years after US military forces toppled the Saddam Hussein regime, the United States faces a "grave and deteriorating" situation in Iraq and the Middle East, according to the bipartisan commission headed by the commission's co-chairmen, former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, and former Rep. Lee Hamilton.

The report painted a grim picture of the situation in Iraq and delivered 79 recommended actions.

"There is no path that can guarantee success, but the prospects can be improved," the report says.


The commissioners warn that if the situation continues to deteriorate, there is a risk of a "slide toward chaos (that) could trigger the collapse of Iraq's government and a humanitarian catastrophe".

"Neighboring countries could intervene ... The global standing of the United States could be diminished. Americans could become more polarized," commissioners said.

President Bush received the report at a 7am White House breakfast meeting. The president said the report "gives a very tough assessment of the situation in Iraq. It is a report that brings some really very interesting proposals, and we will take every proposal seriously and we will act in a timely fashion."

The report recommends more emphasis on key areas of US effort including:

  • training Iraqi forces better and faster;
  • “training the trainers” here in the US better and faster;
  • diplomacy; especially an opening of a dialogue with Iran and Syria.

On September 26, 2006, an essay of mine entitled, “Rumsfeld Needs To Go” stated the case made by senior retired military professionals that Mr Rumsfeld’s approach in the Pentagon was not being entirely successful.


Now that discussion seems positively reinforced.

General Eric Shinseki has also been vindicated. While Chief of Staff of the US Army before the invasion of Iraq, he told Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld he needed a lot more troops in his plan to rapidly stabilise and assure security after Saddam’s government fell.

When General Shinseki retired, neither Rumsfeld nor his Deputy Secretary of Defense attended the retirement ceremony.

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First published on Peace and Freedom on December 6, 2006.

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About the Author

John E. Carey has been a military analyst for 30 years.

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