BAKER JOINS WITHDRAWL FACTION….Bush family major domo James Baker appears to be joining the “declare victory and get out” crowd:

Former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, an architect of the U.S. war with Iraq in 1991, is advising the Bush administration to consider a phased withdrawal of some of the 150,000 U.S. troops in Iraq.

Otherwise, Baker says, the United States risks being suspected of having an “imperial design” in the region.

….former President George H.W. Bush’s secretary of state said, “any appearance of a permanent occupation will both undermine domestic support here in the United States and play directly into the hands of those in the Middle East who ? however wrongly ? suspect us of imperial design.”

There sure is a lot of this going around. Some pretty senior Republicans have been getting awfully nervous about Iraq lately, and apparently they’ve decided on a party line for why they’re counseling withdrawl: we’re not losing because we have too few troops in Iraq, we’re losing because we have too many troops. I imagine this has the advantage of not sounding like a direct criticism of Bush and Rumsfeld while still advancing a plausible reason why we need to get out.

I wonder if anyone in the White House is buying it?