The Plank

No Sense In Trying

By and

From the looks of things, printouts of the Baker Commission are being used as toilet paper in the White House, and the Bush administration plans more-or-less to stay the current, too-marvelous-for-words course in Iraq:

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice yesterday rejected a bipartisan panel's recommendation that the United States seek the help of Syria and Iran in Iraq, saying the "compensation" required by any deal might be too high. She argued that neither country should need incentives to foster stability in Iraq.

Well, who knows? The United States has publicly committed to regime change in both Iran and Syria, and has shown something of an affinity for invading random countries for no good reason. Damascus and Tehran might be perfectly fine with a moderate level of instability in Iraq, so long as it keeps the U.S. Army bogged down and preoccupied. Obviously I don't know for sure, but this doesn't sound so implausible that it's not even worth trying to explore.

Many opponents of negotiations with Iran and Syria have argued that those two countries probably wouldn't offer any help, and even if they would, they probably can't do anything to stop the anarchy in Iraq, and even if they could--as Rice says--the price of cooperation "might" be too high. It's very possible that critics are right on all counts, in which case we're back to the status quo. But what's Rice's rationale for not even bothering, at the bare minimum, to find out?

--Bradford Plumer

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