David Ignatius says that George Bush's announcement that he'll soon revert to the recommendations of the Baker-Hamilton report--whether his decision is a wild political grasp or the product of administration confusion or anything really--is better late than never. And of course he's right, but that's not to say that this really means anything.
Baker-Hamilton, remember, isn't really a plan, but a series of recommendations, many of which are hinged upon the administration's interpretation of the things actually happening in Iraq. It's perfectly possible, therefore, for the president to put forth a new plan in September that contains some, but not all, of the Baker-Hamilton recommendations and call it "The Baker-Hamilton Plan" with practically a straight face. Alternatively, George Bush could--in a craven but actually somewhat honest turn away from his more usual, rosy evaluation of the situation in Iraq--agree to all of the Baker-Hamilton recommendations, but then say that events on the ground make a swift end to the war impossible. Either way, the report still leaves the president an awful lot of room with which to do very little but claim he's doing a lot. It's hard to imagine him assenting to most of the weightier suggestions, such as asking Israel to return the Golan Heights to Syria. Or instituting broad diplomatic discussions with Iran and Syria without preconditions. To wit:
Some of the possible incentives to Iran, Syria, or both include:
i. An Iraq that does not disintegrate and destabilize its neighbors and the region.
ii. The continuing role of the United States in preventing the Taliban from destabilizing
iii. Accession to international organizations, including the World Trade Organization.
iv. Prospects for enhanced diplomatic relations with the United States.
v. The prospect of a U.S. policy that emphasizes political and economic reforms instead of (as
Iran now perceives it) advocating regime change.
vi. Prospects for a real, complete, and secure peace to be negotiated between Israel and Syria,
with U.S. involvement as part of a broader initiative on Arab-Israeli peace as outlined