On the Sunday shows, Republicans were seemingly all over the map on what to do about Iraq.
(Though what Cornyn described -- a short-term increase of at least 20,000 troops -- actually is closer to the "Go Long" plan.)
Over on NBC's Meet The Press, presidential hopeful Rep. Duncan Hunter (CA) sought to articulate his own strategy called "Go Iraqi," reshuffling the placement of new Iraqi troops from relatively quiet areas into more violent areas.
Perhaps the most eyebrow-raising was leading social conservative Sen. Sam Brownback (KS) on ABC's This Week, and Sen.-elect Bob Corker (TN) on CBS' Face The Nation, supporting talks with Iran and Syria to enlist their help with Iraq's stability.
That is evidence of further momentum for the idea of regional talks including Iran and Syria (an idea long pushed by the Center for American Progress and key Democrats.)
Today's NY Times reports that the congressionally-created Iraq Study Group is seriously considering such talks for its recommendations.
If formally recommended by the ISG, and pursued by the Bush Administration, would that amount to a fundamental shift in foreign policy -- away from the unilateralists and neocons and towards the internationalists and realists?
By itself, no. And in turn, we should be careful not to set the bar too low for the ISG.
The Baker commission will probably come out with some sound advice on dealing with the neighborhood, with Iran, with the Israeli-Palestinian issues, which is relevant but essentially will offer some procrastination ideas for dealing with the crisis.
The fact of the matter is, the undertaking itself is fundamentally wrong-headed ... This is a mistaken, absolutely historically wrong undertaking...
If we get out sooner, there will be a messy follow-up after we leave. It will be messy, but will not be as messy as if we stay, seeking to win in some fashion.
In other words, unless actual foreign policy objectives change, mere tactical shifts won't solve anything.
The crystallization of the current objectives is the permanent military bases.
Trying to exert control over Iraq's political system and natural resources via permanent occupation is the main destabilizing force -- strengthening terrorist organizations and giving incentive to Iran and Syria to be counterproductive.
If you don't renounce the bases, and the plans for further "regime change" that go with them, then talks with Iran and Syria will be nothing but a show.
Much like how the six-party talks involving North Korea have gone nowhere. Because Dubya's Asia policy still centers on constraining China, China has no incentive to help out.
So when sizing up the final product from the ISG -- and more importantly, Bush's actions thereafter -- watch to see if they renounce and begin to dismantle the permanent bases.