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The Iraq Study Commission’s hinting we need a grand diplomatic strategy, involving Iran and Syria, to get us out of the war in Iraq. But it’s hard to believe we’re going to talk our way out of this mess. The idea that there is a diplomatic, magical wand Jim Baker (or anyone else) can wave over Iraq to solve our problems is wishful thinking. Iran and Syria are not our friends. The key to getting them to help us isn’t going to be talking, it’s going to be paying a price. What will that price be? Taking the Golan Heights from Israel? Or allowing Iran to proceed with building nuclear weapons?

Behind the scenes politicians have another motivation for negotiations. Some sort of diplomatic agreement – even one as paper-thin as the Paris Peace Accords at the end of the Vietnam War – will give them a political fig leaf. Then as they bring the troops home, like Nixon, they can declare they have negotiated a ‘peace with honor.’ Of course, like in Vietnam the honor may be ephemeral and the peace may only last a few months. But at least that puts some soft edges on losing the war.

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