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Baker, Hamilton Discuss ‘New Way Forward’ Proposal for Iraq

The Iraq Study Group released recommendations Wednesday calling for greater diplomatic efforts, as well as a "change in the primary mission" of U.S. troops that will allow "responsible" troop withdrawal. Co-chairmen James Baker and Lee Hamilton discuss the report.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    Gentlemen, welcome. Secretary Baker, in the first sentence of your report, you say the situation in Iraq is grave and is deteriorating; how grave is it exactly?

  • JAMES BAKER:

    Well, it's quite grave. We also say that there are improvements that can be made if the recommendations we put in this report are followed; we say that later in the report. We say the prospects can be improved. But this is a very candid assessment that we've given you of what we think is a very, very grave situation. How do you quantify it, what percentage of gravity, I don't know how to do that, Jim.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    What about deterioration, Congressman Hamilton? For instance, ten more American troops were killed today, the U.S. military just confirmed that, is that what you're talking about, the situation involving the killing of Americans, as well as Iraqis?

  • LEE HAMILTON:

    Yes, it is. One of the chief measures, of course, of the situation are the casualties and the fatalities that are occurring, not only with American forces, but also the Iraqis themselves. If you look over the past few weeks and months, there's been a real spike in the violence.

    But that's not the only measure of the gravity of the situation. We're not impressed that much progress is being made by the government in dealing not only with security, but with all of the other problems of governing in that country. We think pessimism is pervasive throughout the country. And if you just land in Baghdad, step out of the airplane, and begin to walk around that country, or look at it from the helicopter, you get a sense of the distress and the suffering of the Iraqi people.

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