Washington, D.C. â€“ In an analysis released today, the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation suggested that the much-anticipated report from James Baker and Lee Hamiltonâ€™s Iraq Study Group (ISG) has the greatest potential to produce a changed Iraq policy since 2002.
If the prognosticators are proven correct and the Democrats win back the House and/or Senate, many Republicans will blame Iraq. Travis Sharp, Herbert Scoville Peace Fellow at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, argues that â€œThe release of Baker and Hamiltonâ€™s report may offer Republicans a face-saving alternative to their staunch support for a bad war. Republican defectors could flee the Bush camp en masse and shift the dynamics of the debate in a more bipartisan direction.â€�
Sharp continues: â€œThe Democrats stand to gain enormously from the Iraq Study Groupâ€™s report and may finally be able to seize the middle ground on Iraq before the Republicans are done licking their wounds from November. They will possess a combination of political weapons that could pressure President Bush to relax his iron grip on our nationâ€™s misguided Middle East policy.â€�
If President Bush fails to heed Baker and Hamiltonâ€™s recommendations after they are released in December or January, it could severely embarrass Baker and exacerbate the Bush I v. Bush II foreign policy schism. The resulting confrontation may pit the rebuffed Baker, Colin Powell, Richard Armitage, and Brent Scowcroft against Bush II insiders Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and John Bolton.
â€œBush Iâ€™s team has remained publicly quiet throughout the Iraqi adventure but Bush IIâ€™s rejection of Baker could be the last straw and unleash a circular firing squad,â€� said Sharp.