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10 November 2006

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FB

No meaningful solution to the Iraq quagmire can be found until Bush-Cheney give up their present fantasy goals (a friendly national govt which uses a national army and a national police to run the country and suppress or contain the insurgency) for realistic ones. To find out what these could be, they have to negotiate with Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, and pay the price necessary for them to stabilize Iraq.

That solution is likely to be a Shiastan under Iranian oversight, a Kurdistan acceptable to Turkey and Iran, and a Sunnistan pacified by Saudi money and Syrian muscle (possibly under a cosmetic confederal structure). That will enable the US to pull its troops out, leaving a small number in Kurdistan and Kuwait. Other consolation prizes : some influence with Kurdistan, some stake in Kurd oil. The price : bigtime influence in the ME for Iran, and a Syrian comeback; guarantees of non-aggression to them.

Baker may recommend talking to Iran and Syria, and Bush may even agree, but unless he is prepared to modify his goals to something realistic this will go nowhere.

Will he? Don't hold your breath! What is likely is an increase in troops in Iraq, as, with Rumsfeld gone, the top generals stop quaking and pass on what their underlings have been screaming for a long time. When that fails to improve the situation, it would not surprise me if the US supported a would-be strongman (my money is on Muwaffaq al-Rubaie) to take over (the neocons may have been routed in Washington but one of these wackos is sitting in the Baghdad embassy). When that fails, sit back and watch the whole thing go down the chute.

confusedponderer

Soonmyung Hong,
you are probably right: A guy of Baker's seniority doesn't work for anybody.

Impressive guy. I have great respect for Bush Sr. and Baker due to their performance when ending the Cold War peacefully. That doesn't mean they are saints. They are ruthless. But they are firmly moored in reality.

But as for Jr. ... geez ... and no respect whatsoever. Sadly Baker having success in fixing Bush's mess will undeservedly benefit Bush. But then this is about the nation, not about the man.

Walrus

With the greatest respect, I'm still concerned that people aren't seeing the forest but the trees, except for Arbogast and Will.

There is an unholy alliance between Israel and the American military industrial complex and their armies of lobbyists and think tanks.

Declaring that America is "under threat" and finding a group that can be demonised as an enemy is an old tactic to avoid facing new realities and postponing social change. This is exactly what the military industrial complex want to do since they are threatened by the possibility of winding down Americas armed forces after the end of the cold war and the potential for massive social change as a result.

Israel of course is surprised and delighted that we conveniently decided to demonise her own sworn enemies.

Their lovechild is the "Project for a New American Century". It provided a rationale for keeping America's armed forces at current or increased levels indefinitely.

This type of tactic has been used by ruling elites at least four times this century, excluding the current attempt.

Kaiser Wilhelm II declared that decadent western powers (France, Britain, America, you name it) were denying Germany's rightful status as a "great power", and embarked on a military program to back this up, conveniently maintaining his military power base among the Junkers and the army and effectively co-opting the ordinary, deeply patriotic, people into abandoning their fifty years of pressure for democratic reforms in favour of militarism. Look what happened to him.

Hitler demonised the Jews, Communists and slavs, declaring that Germany was under threat in 1932, soldifying the Nazis grip on power and justifying both total political repression and a military build up.

Stalin, watching on the sidelines, staged the assassination of Kirov the following year, and used it as justification for the purges that cemented his total grip on power.

Kim Jong Il is still doing it today in North Korea.

Here is a hint. Try and find out where the word "Homeland" came from in American political discourse.

President Bush first used it in a security context "protecting our homeland" on Sept 20th 2001.

But guess where the word was first used and why?

It first appeared in the Project for a New American Century paper "Rebuilding America's Defences"

http://www.newamericancentury.org/RebuildingAmericasDefenses.pdf

As if someone had done a simple find and replace operation and replaced the words "United States" with "Homeland".

None of their previous publications used the word Homeland as far as I can tell.

Peggy Noonan thought that it was "creepily teutonic" in a column 14 July 2002.

Now why would anyone use the word "Homeland" instead of America? The answer is because it is a highly emotive word, and "Fatherland" and "Motherland" had already been taken by you know who.

Iraq is a sideshow. We are being railroaded by the current elites who are threatened by the possibility of peace and disarmament.

God forbid that Americans should decide to live with a smaller army, fix a corrupt political system that gives all power to the rich, and then start creating a fairer more decent society.

W. Patrick Lang

All

It seems that you did not listen to his majesty's radio address today. He is still saying that "Iraq is the central battlefield in the war on terror"

I have no doubt that the ISG/Poppy crowd intend to pressure junior into a change in policy in Iraq.

Let us wait and see if they succeed. pl

Byron Raum

Walrus,

No surprise at all that we chose Israel's enemies as our own enemies. It's not a conspiracy at all; rather, what has happened is that America has ceded comprehension of the Middle East to Israel. Instead of taking the trouble to sort these issues out for ourselves, we accept the Israelis as the absolute authority on how Arabs think. This is why Israel's definition of evil is our definition of evil, no matter what Israel or anyone else does. As long as this persists, we will have many enemies in the Middle East, and very few friends, all false.

BR.

different clue

Efforts by us commenters and others to determine who
Gates will work for, and who
the ISG really works for, and what it all means; remind me of Kremlinologists
reading signs and signals from Soviet photographs, speeches, Soviet Party Congress seating charts, and
the like; in order to determine who had what power, what connections, what goals. An example of
such Kremlinology right now
today is this post from BagNews Notes: http://bagnewsnotes.typepad.com/bagnews/2006/11/poppy_leaving_t.html#comments

I think ISG hopes Gates will be Junior's Thinking-Brain Dog, and will help bring Junior to heel. But
Junior is willful and headstrong, so perhaps Gates's CIA background shows
a willingness to use quietly
extreme blackmail against Junior to make him behave.
Its all just kremlinology.

More kremlinology: look at
what ISG will NOT suggest giving up in order to see
whose interests ISG was convened to serve and to save. I suspect ISG will
try to figure out how to save and preserve the sweetheart-deal Production
Sharing Agreements for American oil companies over
Iraqi oilfields. That would
show who ISG is working for.
That's just my uninformed
civilian opinion, to be sure.

confusedponderer

Walrus,
you are correct, especially about PNAC and Israel. They are firmly linked. There are others, like the UK.
UK's Royal Ordnance now also has a stake in US military procurement policy. Israel's IMI is selling a good deal of their hardware to the US. That are the rare cases when 'not invented here' is not a procurement obstacle in the US. For all of them war is good business. PNACs 'statement of principles' laid the groundwork for a foreign policy that would be good business, if you're into building arms and high-tech.

PNAC's method isn't new. It's probably much older than the Team B effort to protray the Russians as 3 metres tall, or their hysteria under Reagan. Ray McGovern wrote sarcastically about Gates performance in the 1980s:
"I was amused to read this morning in David Ignatius' column in the Washington Post that Gates "was the brightest Soviet analyst in the [CIA] shop, so Casey soon appointed him deputy director overseeing his fellow analysts." He wasn't; and Casey had something other than expertise in mind. Talk to anyone who was there at the time – except the sycophants Gates co-opted to do his bidding – and they will explain that Gates' meteoric career had most to do with his uncanny ability to see a Russian under every rock turned over by Casey. Those of Gates' subordinates willing to see two Russians became branch chiefs; three won you a division. I exaggerate only a little."

You want a policy everyone at his senses would refuse outright, so you cook up a picture that would support what you want to do anyway, and try to sell it to the daft as 'über-top secret-super-special-intel'. It's lying with a capital 'L'.

I read recently, that to justify the Iran dealings during Iran-Contra, Gates then helped cook the Iranian inelligence and produced an NIE that said Iran had abandoned terrorism and became nice again - thus dealing with them did no harm :) It's that easy.
The politisation of intelligence we could witness in the advent of the invasion of Iraq was and is SOP for these people, and IMO that's unlikely to change under either Negroponte, Gates, Hayden or Goss. For the seniors in the Bush crew that's the reflex of political control over the executive. Well political control over facts yet has to be established. They try by spinning.

The Team B actors - and that was before Israel really came to be seen as a US ally rather than a crypto-commie nuisance. Sometime in the 1980s the Israelis managed to persuade the Team B folks that they are an asset, and they became friends. They helped in the Iran-Contra dealings, and I don't think that was an accident.
I think Israeli aid in fighting terrorists also helped persuade the rest of the world that they are good, unlike the palestinians who indiscriminately butchered civilians for a political statement. That was good PR. Israel in the US made one of the most outstanding public diplomacy efforts ever since the British talked the US into preferring them over the Germans in WW-I.
To complicate things, they established an old buddy network spanning over both parties, and that's established for decades. It isn't going to go away soon.

blowback

If the ISG is already at the stage of "either declare defeat and withdraw completely tout de suite, or we surge troops into Baghdad and fight.", then that effort is well and truly shafted. They have already precluded diplomacy in favor of unilateralism and that is very scary.Have they learnt nothing from the Cold War or the failure of Israeli unilateralism over the past few years?

I wonder how much of the media interest in the ISG/SecDef issue is generated within the Vice-president's office. An effort like the ISG normally works best if it takes place outside the glare of publicity. If you want the disrupt the ISG's efforts, the best thing to do is to subject it to the full glare of the media spotlight.

Otto

The fact is the Washington policy establishment of the left and right doesn't know what to do about Iraq. All the options are bad ones. The ISG is going to produce some kind of consensus view which avoids the really hard questions because basically they can't agree on anything else. Baker's motives I'm convinced are to find some fig leaf to cover Bush's and the Republican party's culpability for this fiasco. As has been frequently suggested, there are only two ways out of this morass. A huge new committment of time (10 years), treasure (three trillion bucks), and troops (at least 150,000 more) to stabilize the situation and perhaps, and it's a big perhaps since this represents a huge new gamble, produce some sort of still unified and stable Iraq. The other option is withdrawal. It is probable that the political will to make the required investment does not exist. Ergo.

Soonmyung Hong

Col.

"we're another one of the tribes." -PL, MEPC Symposium

I believe U.S. have far greater interest in Iraq than Afghanistan.
If you predict U.S. will be there for a long time and so become one of afghan tribes effectively, she might become one of iraqi tribes, too. right?

Barry Posen suggest his new iraq policy.
It seems to me 'become another one of the tribes' idea.

Altough U.S. have very strong (conventional) military power, she is too incompetent to understand political, cultural background or consequence. So how can she overcome her weaknesses?

Byron Raum

It occurs to me that everyone who is proposing a solution - or not proposing a solution because it is too hard - is making one assumption: that it is necessary to come up with a disengagement plan and a plan for the future of Iraq for all time. Agreed that it is a lack of such planning that got us into this mess in the first place. But under the current circumstances, how about starting work on the smaller problems first? Running water..electricity..It might be better to try a bottom-up approach and get SOMETHING out there that's better than what we have today. Progress that is incremental is still progress.

BR.

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