Baker-Hamilton: Road to peace leads through Iran

With regard to the troops, the Baker-Hamilton commission's early reports remain about as safe as you can be and still have words combined to make sentences: "[the report] will call for a gradual pullback of the 15 American combat brigades now in Iraq but stop short of setting a firm timetable for their withdrawal."

Or: they have to go eventually. The Times also specifies that the report hints at withdrawal beginning "sometime next year."

To my thinking, the much more potent part of the report is this:

As described by the people involved in the deliberations, the bulk of the report by the Baker-Hamilton group focused on a recommendation that the United States devise a far more aggressive diplomatic initiative in the Middle East than Mr. Bush has been willing to try so far, including direct engagement with Iran and Syria. Initially, those contacts might be part of a regional conference on Iraq or broader Middle East peace issues, like the Israeli-Palestinian situation, but they would ultimately involve direct, high-level talks with Tehran and Damascus.

This would directly interfere with neocon wet dreams involving regime change in Iran and Syria, regardless of the fiasco in Iraq. It's another stage of the battle for the administration's future, with Cheney on the one side and Bush Sr.'s fellas on the other, urging the president to be more, well, conservative.

Seymour Hersh has essentially said that it comes down to whether Rumsfeld's replacement Robert Gates (no knight in shining armor, him) can resist Cheney's demands for bombing Iran.

Bomb Iran or negotiate with Iran. The commission has spoken and the internal Civil War begins.

Or is it a scuffle between factions?

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