50,000 More Troops Plus Baker

That's what Kristol and Kagan are now favoring. Money concession to the 41 crowd:

As for the Baker commission's likely recommendation that the United States should engage Syria and Iran in the search for solutions in Iraq, we are skeptical that those countries will want to be helpful. But it is one thing to seek their help while we are losing and withdrawing, when our negotiating position is at its weakest, and quite another to engage in such diplomacy while we increase our force levels and try to improve the security situation. If people are serious about negotiating with the likes of Syria and Iran, they should want our diplomats to go in with as strong a hand as possible.

Maybe that's the deal they are now aiming for: more troops and more realism. My only worry about this is that it really is too late. As another reader comments:

I think the thing we have not come to terms with is just how atomized and broken Iraq has become. Every plan everyone proposes presupposes that leaders can deliver their communities, ala the Bosnia peace accords. That is true whether you are talking about partition or unification. But it just feels to me like Iraq is in little shards, other than Kurdistan.

It also feels to me, when I see the kind of brazen kidnapping of 150 people in broad daylight, that we have no clue what is going on there, no real intel, because no one can get a bird's eye view of the place. Everyone is in their own green zone or fox hole or walled garden. In Lebanon, reporters could cross lines and really feel like they had some kind of coherent picture of the battlespace. But I don't think any party has that in Iraq - not us and not Maliki. It makes one reluctant to propose anything.

I'm torn between these two analyses. But I'm leaning toward an acceptance that Iraq may have to experience an actual civil war before any settlement can really hold. It was suppressed for decades. We had one chance to exert control and unwind the sectarian dynamic peacefully; and we blew it.