Gen. Tony Zinni
On Meet the Press.
The guy knows his stuff. He came out against the invasion of Iraq. He criticized VP Cheney's remarks that we know for certain Saddam Hussein was amassing WMDs.
He is also critical of the lack of a debate about the future of foreign policy in the Middle East. This is both the Democrats and Bush Republicans fault. Bush sticks stupidly to a tactical change in failed policy-strategy-goal. The Democrats talk about simply withdrawing.
What is going to happen is the race to a fairly serious drawdown/re-positioning which is what all the fighting is currently about. In other words, basically nothing. When that is over, American forces in large numbers will remain in Kurdistan and Kuwait if not Iraq proper for 5-10 years. It will be a slow bleed, an ugly occupation, and the partitioning of the country will need to take place. [There are still US troops in the Balkans btw].
As Zinni correctly notes there is no getting out of the Middle East. There is re-deployment, changing numbers, changing the troops functions, roles, no doubt. But no leaving altogether. Not with war brewing between the Turks and Kurds, the civil war going to get much worse between the Shia and Sunni, and the biggest fear of all--an Iranian-Sunni Regional War.
I've constantly discussed Joe Biden along with Baker-Hamilton as the only ones considering a real strategic vision for the region.
The best recommendation of all by Zinni in my mind is the following--a constitutional amendment to turn the presidency into a 6 year one-term only position. He talks about needing the president to be a statesman (or woman) who rises above the partisan fighting and that this doesn't and won't happen so long as election cycles dominate the thinking. I've discussed a dual presidency: one foreign, one domestic. Make that into a team unit one term, 6 year cycle. Throw out the Electoral College, pure popular vote, move all the primaries back to a national primary week for both parties (f--k Iowa).