Sustained increases in U.S. troop levels would not solve the fundamental cause of violence in Iraq, which is the absence of national reconciliation. A senior American general told us that adding U.S. troops might temporarily help limit violence in a highly localized area. However, past experience indicates that the violence would simply rekindle as soon as U.S. forces are moved to another area. As another American general told us, if the Iraqi government does not make political progress, “all the troops in the world will not provide security.”
Similarly, the harsh response to the test balloon floated by the Simpson-Bowles commission--even from its own members--seems to ensure a similar stillbirth.
Yet just because the Baker report was right that violence would return once troop levels were decreased, post-surge, doesn't mean the Simpson-Bowles commission's plan is the correct one. Everyone talks a good game about bipartisanship, but on major issues like the Iraq War and the fiscal policy, the two sides are coming with with completely different premises (Our presence in Iraq is bad/good; the end goal of legislation should be helping people/shrink government) and thus spend most of the time talking past one another.
The takeaway is these bipartisan commissions only seem useful in giving ideas exposure, rather than proposing specific courses of action that will actually be realized. But we'll soon see, won't we?