The eagerly-awaited report from the Iraq Study Group is published today, and America’s soldiers in Iraq will be amongst the keenest readers. This is because it may say, among other things, that they should withdraw from a combat role over the next year. The group is chaired by James Baker, and the report may signal the end of one team’s failed policies, and the beginning of an eventual pullout.
Baker is a veteran of the Reagan administration and former foreign minister under president Bush’s father. Bush has not said he will take the ISG’s advice. Leaked contents indicate it might mean biting a particularly unsavoury bullet, talking to two names on his “axis of evil” list, Iran, and Syria.
It seems since the Twin Towers that there has been one foreign policy direction in Washington, and the government has brooked no opposition. But yesterday the man Bush wants as Foreign Minister, Robert Gates, said it is not working. However that, Gates added, does not mean we are losing either. It is going to be a packed day of declarations and public debate in Washington that will have a huge effect on Iraq and the region. Iraqis may be also keen to follow today’s events to see what is to happen. But with the level of violence in their daily lives, they may have other priorities.