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16 October 2006

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semper fubar

Well, he's the Bush family fixer. Did anyone think he was really going to give an honest assessment of the situation? He's only in there to try to salvage the Bush family name and reputation, not to help America actually deal with the huge disaster the Idiot Son has created.

Richard Whitman

Pat, lets not prejudge the ISG. They may actually come up with something "less stupid" than what we are now doing.

T-Bone

Col, you are the man.

James Pratt

Baker has devoted most of his career to promoting the financial interests of the wealthiest members of the oil industry. His actions, and the continued pro-war political campaign contributions of those oil people, speak louder than words in defining the real attitude of Big Oil towards the Iraq War,(despite numerous public denials). This war is the biggest subsidy they have gotten from the American taxpayer and soldier to date and Baker can be trusted to guard the gravy train for them. They can't expect new discoveries to fulfill new oil demand anymore.

John Howley

The conflation is also present in the routine news coverage of the "violence in Iraq." Typically, there is a reference to sectarian violence, perhaps a mention of U.S. casualties and then, invariably, there is a mention of something related to AQII -- another suspected Number Three was arrested or whatever. The impression in the mind of the listener is that our soldiers are being killed by AQII.

Most experts tell me that foreign fighters (organized by AQII) are less than ten percent of the problem. So, who is this mysterious 90 percent of the enemy attacking and killing our soldiers who is never identified?

"Insurgents" and "militias" are nameless and meaningless. The only NAMED enemy is AQII and sometimes Muktada.

I guess this is why it was so important for DoD to hold a press conference annointing the successor to Zarqawi after he was killed.

The Conflation you have identified is implicit in the news coverage most Americans get.

Yohan

No surprise at all, just another Team B.

lina

"There it is again. The great conflation."

They will rewrite the script after the election - especially if they lose big. Because let's face it, the ONLY thing the Bush crowd has done well is win elections. If this one goes as it is projected to go, they will have finally failed at the only thing they know. Post Nov. 7, the players will change and the slogans will change.

I was struck during that interview by the sheer absurdity of having to appoint a blue ribbon commission to formulate a war strategy. I don't even think Lyndon Johnson had to stoop that low.

The Baker group is supposed to be providing political cover, but instead it simply underscores how weak, ineffectual and clueless this Commander in Chief really is.

wtofd

PL,

I listened to Baker on the News Hour and thought, He drank the kool-aid.

But do you think anything good can come from this man? In other words, are you impressed with his history of forcing Shamir to freeze settlement expansion by withholding loan guarantees in 92? Is there any realpolitik in him?

arbogast

The senior President Bush's father, Prescott Bush, did business with the Nazi's throughout World War II.

These people are dirty, dirty, dirty.

anna missed

Well PL,
as usual, and in addition to #1,#2,# and 3, its really all about US, is'nt it? Everything we do "over there" is about US. And they, "over there" know as well as anything under the sun, that its all about US, and so will act accordingly, and in their own time eventually cut US out. And why shouldnt they?

sbj

Col. Lang,

I've had the sense for quite a while that there's a battle going on between, (for lack of better monikers), the Neocons and the Carlyle Group type crowd for control of US policy and action abroad.

It is perhaps a testament to how bad things are with the current bunch in charge that James Baker and the so-called "foreign policy realists" look so good by comparison.

Might it be that James Baker, by hawking this "beware the terrorists lest they take over" line, is just threading the needle with respect to trying to get control of "Bush's Brain" by saying such things so as to not publicly challenge the current Bush position too soon? I think if I were trying to get this particular president to stop listening to Cheney and his Jacobins I might resort to saying such things to reassure him I didn't intend to turn over the whole applecart.

James Pratt

#4 Doesn't scare me because I've heard that line before, something about fighting them over there so we wouldn't have to fight communist armies on the beach at Waikiki. I was fooled until 1969, when I saw the pictures of My Lai and realized we were fighting to repress the popular will, not liberate it. Now after I get home from shopping and look at the labels closely I find out I wear Vietnamese made clothes and eat Vietnamese grown food.


dano

It's all about the GOP retaining power in both '06 and especially '08. Planning now for the election then. Aside from Papa Bush, Baker is the most prestigious "traditional" Repub around - and 41 can't publicly humiliate 43. (He's not as good as Baker with the smooth tv appearances anyway.)

This isn't really about Iraq, it's about retaining political power in the US.

Walrus

Nothing is going to change. The Republicans are owned by big oil and the rest of the military industrial complex.

The Democrat party is owned by the Israeli lobby, which is why they always seem like the clown in the circus who is always looking the wrong way to the amusement and frustration of the kids in the audience. No Democrat can tell Israel where to get off.

So you have the Republican backers and the Democrat controllers in furious agreement that America must attack Iraq and Iran because its in Israel's interests, and the daddy warbucks interests.

zanzibar

IMO, the Iraq policy is too far gone for real changes anytime soon. There does not seem to be anyone in political leadership in the US who can be change agents to focus attention and build consensus to get it right. The domestic political climate today prevents it. Complex scenarios with many shades of gray are not amenable to black & white rhetoric and 30 sec soundbites. All that is being done is to provide political cover. Its either pull out or keep the charade, nothing about recognizing what the problems are, who the stakeholders are, what are their interests and how to draw compromises. How to bring stability to the ME? The Jim Baker bi-partisan group is no different than the 9/11 commission. It will not get to the bottom of the issues. Negotiating with Sunni insurgents, talking to Iran and Syria, working with SCIRI and Mahdi is all hard work and requires real leadership. We are on auto-pilot now. It seems that Iraq has to exhaust itself with a genocide that is underway. The repercussions of this bloodshed will be felt long after its all over. Are there lessons from the Lebanese civil war that can be brought to bear in Iraq?

Soonmyung Hong

Richard Whitman.

I think he is trying to balance between Bush43's acceptance and national interest.
But 'lesser stupid' is not enough...

pbrownlee

More incestuous amplification with JBIII as this election cycle's Colin Powell the Great Salesman and Cheney/Rumsfield under tarpaulins pro tempore.

Will

Interesting things excerpted from newspaper article
EIGHT CHILDREN

http://www.dfw.com/mld/dfw/15778710.htm

Baker discusses his life, work and new book
By MAX B. BAKER
STAR-TELEGRAM STAFF WRITER


"I'm honest that we underestimated the cost of winning the peace in Iraq," Baker said in an interview. "I also make it clear that I'm not implicitly criticizing the president. I don't seek to determine at what levels the mistakes are made."

JAMES BAKER

Age: 76


Family: Wife, Susan Garrett, and eight children


On Iraq

"The Defense Department made a number of costly mistakes, including disbanding the Iraqi army, pursuing de-Baathification too extensively (and thereby prohibiting many qualified Iraqis from serving in a successor Iraqi government), failing to secure weapons depots, and perhaps never having committed enough troops to successfully pacify the country. One thing is for sure: the difficulty of winning the peace was severely underestimated."

Turf battles

"As sorry as I am to say it, the scrimmages between State and Defense in the first four years of the George W. Bush administration hurt the president and made it more difficult for him to win public, congressional, and international support for U.S. foreign and security policy, particularly for U.S. operations in Iraq."


The Five P's

Baker says his father had an austere manner and was a strict disciplinarian who liked to say, "Prior preparation prevents poor performance."

"He called this 'the Five Ps.' It's a simple aphorism, the sort of thing adults tell children, then forget. People are often surprised to hear a man my age recite it, and without embarrassment. But this is a gift from my father that has helped me in one way or another almost every day of my adult life."

BDF

Just came across this:
http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/1009iraq-baker1009.html

Combined with your post it seems that Baker may be looking for a way to save face for Bush administration while still pulling the chestnuts out of the fire...so to speak.

I wonder if the kinds of deals that the "Iraq Study Group" is talking about would give Iran more influence in Iraq and the ME. Not that the US would ever admit to that kind of deal in a public forum but such is the situation we have found ourselves.

backsdrummer

Does the ISG not have at least one representative from the "sovereign" Iraqi government? I could be wrong, but I didn't see one name on the list:

http://www.usip.org/isg/working_groups.html#military

So do I understand correctly the goal of Baker and Co. is to plan a "free" and "sovereign" Iraq that provides the US military bases, control of its airspace, prohibits all criminal and civil prosecutions of Americans, an economic policy friendly to US companies, and a foreign policy in virtual lock-step with the US? And all this without a single representative from the Iraq government? I'm eager to hear this one.

On a side note, I thought this article on counter-insurgency, found in the March-April 2006 edition of Military Review, might be of interest to the group:

http://usacac.army.mil/CAC/milreview/English/MarApr06/Cohen.pdf#search='military%20review%20The%20Paradoxes%20of%20Counterinsurgency'

On page 50, "Isolating insurgents from their cause and support", I found the reference to redressing grievances heartening, but also found the reference to "biometric identification cards" creepy.

In light of this article, has any strong effort begun to provide local commanders at least one American staff officer who has a deep understanding of the local languages, religions, cultures, history, and politics so they can make the kind of changes needed quickly without relying totally on hired locals whose loyalty and impartiality is in question? (Think Chalabi) I understand that thousands of Americans were taught Japanese language and culture in WW2. Why is there no similar effort today, given the stakes and necessity of getting it right?

salsabob

AQ2 or Sectarian?

Is it not most likely that the truth lies in the middle?

AQ2 is there in the mix, currently aligned with the secular Bathish and doing its best to stimulate Naji's "Management of Savagery" strategy and Zar's "Work Plan" for civil war between the Sunni and Shia. If we leave, sure, the Shia skull drillers will continue to fight them and many of their Sunni head choppers will turn on them, but do you think AQ2 will really become a non-factor overnight? More imporantly, do you not think AQ2 knows where its credibility/survivability lies, and that they will do some pretty nasty things to provoke us into staying in our role as their giant recruiting machine?

Is there not also a middle ground between 'stay the course' and 'cut n' run'? Can't we be smarter (and more ruthless) at playing their game -- e.g., redeploy to 'Kurdistan', and embrace,promote and contain conflation to Sunnistan and Shiastan?

I've grown so weary of baby boomer Tinkerbell thinking (i.e., "if we all just clap our hands and really, really believe ...") on both sides. Are there not any Cold War SOB thinkers left? I'd be more optimistic if it was Brzezinski rather than Baker.

Got A Watch

Just one big smoke and mirrors scheme to try to rescue Republican (really should change their name to Restupidican or Rethuglican) chances in 08.

As others have noted, how farcial is a "US Study Group" deciding on the "future" for Iraq without input from Iraq or its neighbors. This "Report" is purely for US domestic consumption, and most likely will have no resemblance to reality, as usual. Just another act in the ongoing kabuki tragedy that is the US government.

John Robb

Here's an alternative explanation. The word "terrorist," to Baker, may apply more to Iran than to Sunni extremists. He thinks in terms of nation-states and not non-states.

Michael

Given Bush just signed his new Anti-terror bill - a bill that I didn't believe congress would allow in a million years - I wouldn't be surprised by anything this administration does anymore. Its very discouraging to see my US neighbor (I'm in Canada) going down this road.

Col. Lang, do you have any thoughts regarding the DPRK? Would they consider a 'pre-emptive strike'? (the irony there is overwhelming).

Thanks!

M


http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20061017.wusterhigh1017/BNStory/Front

John Howley

Also note the ISG includes no UK representatives. I guess it's logical based on recent experience to assume that the Brits will go along with whatever we decide to do.

Recent reports indicate the Army is planning for the maintainance of current troop levels (140,000) through 2010. http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/article1873833.ece

Yes, it's just a planning exercise but does it presume the British Army stays in Basra for another four years?

Perhaps General Sennatt was speaking to James Baker.

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