Waiting for Baker

British online commentators sniff change in the air at the White House at the hands of Bush family friend and former Secretary of State James A. Baker III.

The British speculation was ignited by last week's report in the Los Angeles Times that a bipartisan panel co-chaired by Baker was considering recommending two options that "would represent reversals of U.S. policy: withdrawing American troops in phases, and bringing neighboring Iran and Syria into a joint effort to stop the fighting."

But commentators seem more certain of a change in policy than Baker himself, who told ABC News earlier this month that he was "not sure" the Bush White House would follow the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, the panel Baker co-chairs with former Indiana congressman Lee H. Hamilton. Baker has not said what those recommendations might be, only that a "change of course" may be necessary in coming months.

The panel has attempted to stay above the political fray by holding its recommendations until after the midterm elections, but as sectarian violence continues to worsen, the U.S. strategy has remained a major issue in the U.S. and abroad. The LA Times story, said The Independent(as republished in the New Zealand Herald) , "paved the way for a large-scale withdrawal of US forces and a dramatic shift of US policy."

"Politicians on both sides of the Atlantic believe there is an endgame being played out for Mr Blair and Mr Bush and a policy shift is growing nearer," said the liberal London daily.

The White House dismisses talk of a withdrawal timetable, but assertions by Bush that no "dramatic shift" in policy is being contemplated and by Blair that the British will "hold their nerve" are not given much credence.

"The President and the Prime Minister were left clinging to the dream of establishing a lasting democracy in Iraq as their advisers urged them to look for a more realistic exit strategy," said the Independent.

The editors of the Daily Telegraph, who strongly supported the U.S. invasion in 2003, declared Monday that "Withdrawal from Iraq is the Best Option." They said the U.S.-British policy of establishing a stable democracy had failed and predicted "a new approach...will probably be adopted only once America's midterm elections are safely out of the way." The commission's proposals, said the Telegraph, will likely fall "somewhere between 'cut and run' and 'stay the course.'"

"The Bush administration's exit strategy increasingly coincides" with Baker's group, said The Times this weekend.

"The group will report in January and is believed to favour setting political and military 'benchmarks' enabling US forces to withdraw to its bases -- and ultimately to nearby countries such as Kuwait -- leaving US military advisers embedded with Iraqi forces," reported Sarah Baxter, Washington correspondent of the London daily, which also supported the war.

"Key differences remain over the wisdom of talking to Syria and Iran about the future of Iraq. Bush and Rumsfeld are sceptical of the idea floated by Baker, but Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state, is 'interested and wants to be engaged,'" the newspaper reported.

David Mack, a diplomat and consultant to the ISG who served in the first Bush administration, told the Guardian: "We are really at a point where any talk of victory is an illusion."

Mack, who said he was expressing personal opinions that did not necessarily reflect the views of the panel, "insisted the Bush administration would have to redefine victory. It would have to give up its rhetoric about spreading democracy, as well as its aversion to talking to Syria or Iran - both central planks of the Bush Doctrine, which emphasises the muscular use of US power to isolate enemy 'rogue regimes.'"

Mack said that success might then be achieved in the form of "an orderly exit from the country that doesn't make a bad situation worse."

The Guardian added that "those involved with the Baker commission hope that its recommendations, coming from friends and camouflaged as tactical tweaks, could offer President Bush a face-saving way out of the current bloody impasse. But they concede there is no guarantee of a decisive change."

By Jefferson Morley |  October 24, 2006; 12:08 PM ET  | Category:  Europe
Previous: Is Iraq's Civilian Death Toll 'Horrible' -- Or Worse? | Next: More on Counting Civilian Casualties


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I do not know if Bush would accept the recommendations of the Baker Commission, but their work might be useful to future Administrations regardless of party. We might even be able to have a non-partisan foreign policy. In general, I rather liked the inclusive nature of the alliance formed during the Gulf War, and believe, as with domestic problems, it is the way to go in solving international problems. Turkey, Syria, and Iran need to be involved, and any fears Iraq's neighbor's may have about a united Iraq need to be addressed. This does not mean Iraq's national interest or sovereignty should be compromised.

Posted by: P. J. Casey | October 24, 2006 01:17 PM

I think Bush will withdraw troops next year with or without Baker's help. My question is, after three years of being told 'Stay the Course' what is the Republican base going to do when this happens?

Posted by: gregdn | October 24, 2006 01:56 PM

Waiting for Baker? Really?

The Iraqis are not, the majority of which want the US troops out, and so obviously support the struggle in that direction.

Neither has British command. "While insisting that Britain would stay the course in Iraq, Gen. Dannatt told the BBC: "We need to keep thinking about time because time is against us. Because time is money, time is particularly soldiers and soldiers' lives, and we cannot go on forever."..."We don't do surrender. We don't pull down white flags. We're going to see this through," Gen. Dannatt said in an interview with British Broadcasting Corp. radio."

In context or out of context, that's clear enough, general. Game is over and time is running out (... and above all, "time is money", isn't it??!!!...). We're all in agreement (indeed!). So we stay the course (indeed!), declare victory one more time (indeed!), and see this through (indeed!), which means we just get the h..l out of there in the most orderly fashion the situation still allows.

Thanks for endorsing what we've suggested for so long, general.

No need to celebrate, sir, we're all much too busy remembering the victims and mourning the dead. Been rather messy, you know...

Good day, sir!

Posted by: Robert Rose | October 24, 2006 02:01 PM

Baker won't do anything unitl the Carlyle Group has found a way to benefit. His efforts in getting Kuwait to forgive Iraqi debt garnered a billion dollar benefit for the Carlyle Group, including the elder Bush and Barbara and the bin Laden family and Baker himself. Nice work if you can get it. Who needs the Mafia with Baker and the Bushes around?

Posted by: 274627 | October 24, 2006 02:18 PM

I find the whole Baker commission discussion quite similar to Nixon's "Secret Plan" to end the Vietnam War. The fact is that the implementation of whatever transpires from here on out will evidently be undertaken by the same people who have been consistently and unequivocally wrong about every single aspect of the adventure so far. This Argument is Over! The anti-war voices have won the argument, and should now be encouraged to solve the mess. Bush ran in 2004 on the basic premise of "I created this mess, you have to let me clean it up." Sounds pretty stupid now, doesn't it? Well, it was a stupid argument then, and the people who accepted it belong in the woodshed with Bush, Cheney, and the rest of them. Did Baker speak out against the war in 2002, 2003, 2004, or 2005? If not, then he has blood on his hands and should get out of the way and let the people who have been right all along work on the problem.

Posted by: Jim Preston | October 24, 2006 02:22 PM

price per month of staying in Iraq :
64 dead on average
200 badly wounded (lost legs, arms, vision, broken backs, badly burned, etc,etc)
between $ 10 and $ 12 billion in borrowed money
and then add the indirect costs for equipment replacement plus future health care costs for 10,000 badly wounded, and the thousands with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, etc, ect
It is funny, the criminals that got us into this bloody and expensive mess never talk about the costs but instead try to appear macho by accusing anyone who disagrees with them of "wanting to cut and run", alas, it is so easy to be brave with someone else's life..

Posted by: jaime - california | October 24, 2006 03:09 PM

Bush's Iraq war strategy and public bluster place more importance on saving face than on saving U.S. soldiers. Otherwise, why delay Baker's Study Group recommendations until after the election? Bush's foolish Iraq invasion decision now has U.S. soldiers in harms way on the ground in hostile Iraq urban areas -- like sitting ducks for insurgent snipers. If alternative strategies or policies would help our soldiers, they should be implemented immediately. Bush appears to spend more time hobnobbing around raising money for rubber-stamping Republican politicians than on getting Iraq right. It's reminiscent of Kissinger arguing for weeks over the shape of the conference table for Vietnam War peace talks while U.S. soldiers were injured and died every day that went by because Kissinger didn't want to appear weak. Had Kissinger resolved the table issue sooner - - they eventually agreed to a circular table -- more of our soldiers would have lived or not been injured. This is the same Kissinger from whom Bush now seeks advice that helps maintain his state of denial. The media was criticized for cheerleading rather than asking critical question during the run-up to the war. Will reporters give the Bushies a pass or will they ask tough questions about requiring Baker to wait until after the election before announcing recommendations that would otherwise benefit our soldiers sooner.

Posted by: LJPipes | October 24, 2006 04:05 PM

My earlier comment was removed. Since so many people have attacked the Lancet study of the Iraqi death count, I want to posit the following:
If the Lancet study can be disputed, then what proof do we have that 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust? Do we have 6 million death certificates? I think only 30,000 Jews died in the "holocaust". But the same Holocaust industry that perpetuates the 6 million myth now wants you to believe that the 650,000 Iraqi death count is fake. That's why they keep removing these comments.

Posted by: Jiminy | October 24, 2006 05:51 PM

Bush won't listen to any withdrawal plan put forward by Baker. If anything, he's more likely to increase troop numbers dramatically after the election.

The 'One last push' option is the only change Bush is likely to consider. You could also call it the 'Double or quits' option.

Even to maintain current troop strength, the Pentagon is going to be calling up unprecedented numbers of Guard and reservists in the next few months. They're just waiting for the election to pass.

Posted by: OD | October 24, 2006 09:47 PM

Aloha: Since the Baker report has not been released, I don't know if this might be one of the strategies?? Has it ever been discussed or will it be discussed that The Military could place many rapid reaction Brigades at strategic location at the discrecion of Bush, Rumsfeld, Pace, Casey etc. We could observe via some means of Intellgence, which areas were in the most danger and send aircraf first, then reaction forces to supplement Iraqs Military or Police Force to help quell the situation. In the meantime it would be hoped that the Iraq Government would get its act together. Detemine which route they wish to go, and have the UN Monitor the situation as well to see the US was no longer there and let the Security Council make hard choices about the problems. Vrspy Buzz Baer Major USMC Ret. Naval Intelligence, Communications and Logistics Holualoa Hi

Posted by: Buzz Baer | October 24, 2006 10:02 PM

like to point something out.

George H.W. Bush, George W. Bushs' father has been working in connection with Washington DC, purportedly for over 50 years. Purportedly, he started in with the CIA/Mafia in trying to murder Castro to get his uncle Walkers West Indies Sugra Plantations back from the communists. The mafia and rich people had some common beefs. CIA Mafia Texas LBJ Kennedy Bush

sometimes the same things come up in conjunction with each other.

George H.W. Bush _has_ been friends with Paul Wolfowitz author of PNAC, Goss appointee to head the CIA under his son, and John Negroponte' who was ambassadour to Honduras when George H.W. Bush was Director of the CIA. Fact is they all went to YALE TOGETHER.......class of '60 I believe....along with Walker.

George H.W. Bush was also president when Saddam Hussein was suckered into attacking Kuwiat, through April Glaspie. That was in NewsWeek around the time of Desert Storm.

Saddam also uttered these words as Bagdhad was under attack by George H.W. Bushes son George W. Bush.........."why is he doing this to me?"

those are the same words that Noriega, the colombian coke smuggler for democracy and Honduran playmate said as he was assailed by United States Military Industrial forces......for supporting our effete' elites.

PNAC was the result of anger at a plan interfered with by Clintons' ELECTION. They had to put things on_hold for 8 years. Or at least most of it. Clinton like most short timers in Washington acted most surely in matters of domestic policy, leaving international matters more in the hands of his advisors. The Washington REGULARS.

The front men for the Military Industrial Complex.

Whatever Clinton decided, he decided under advisment, he didn't have 50 years to set up his men and make connections in Washington.

The point is, George W. Bush is acting on behalf of the men that people like Baker represent, Clinton may have trusted him, but only because he's not an insider. Just because Baker was on his team doesn't make him a purveyor of truth.

IN FACT, after watching Baker on Jon Stewarts, The Daily Show, I would have to say that Baker represents George H.W. Bushes' position more than he represents the people of the United States.

2ND LARGEST OIL RESERVES IN THE WORLD, that's why we're in Iraq. And don't forget, the "bad guy," Saddam was surprised that George H.W.'s son George W. was attackining him in Bagdhad.

Course Saddam did get to escape with a cool Billion in cash under heavy surveillance, somehow in 3 tractor trailers loaded with that cash. But you know, if you know the _right_ people, sometimes LUCK HAPPENS.........

and my named is rumpled stilktin.


Posted by: I would | October 24, 2006 10:23 PM

it was reported that 6 Million Jews died.

what was under reported is that 6 Million people of other persuasions also died. Gypsies, mental patients, homosexuals, some other religious groups.

12 Million people died in the Holocaust, in death camps. Jews were just in the majority.

Posted by: regarding the Holocaust... | October 24, 2006 10:27 PM

impression is Baker represents the

Military Industrial Complex Establishment.

Rumsfeld, Cheney, Negroponte, Wolfowitz, PNAC signatories....

Project for a New American Century...

g o o g l e PNAC, find out about the response to Clinton interfering with their plans to sculpt the world in the image of elitists interests.......

and why aren't we in Darfur? because they're not kneedeep in Texas Tea?

funny that.


Posted by: my | October 24, 2006 10:32 PM

Florida Mafia Castro Cuba Walker Bush ZapataOil TEXAS Jeb Walker

Gore sought a manual recount of votes in several Florida counties. This was supported by Florida Attorney General Bob Butterworth, a Democrat, and opposed by Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, a Republican. On November 14, while the Palm Beach County Canvassing Board was recounting its ballots by hand, Harris officially certified the election for Bush.

isn't Harris saying that Gawd told her it didn't matter if it was legal or not so long as gawd said it was okay?

Doesn't Jee zoos talk to Katherine? Goss is from Florida too....

lotta weird things seem to go in favor of certain kinds of white men in Texas and Florida.


Posted by: sometimes the same things show up together... | October 24, 2006 10:38 PM

Bridas Corporation Afghanistan Argentina Taliban 13 Trillion dollars.

Posted by: or look at this | October 24, 2006 10:40 PM

Bush will use Baker to define the official strategy to pull out of Iraq. Obviously the precise reasoning that Baker will present has been well-known by insiders for several years (same as having extra cash at an other Bank) but he is the right guy (friend of Bush, Republican, former Secretary-of-State, still articulate, etc.) to be the "presenter" of this latest (hopefully also final) chapter of Bush disasters. Truly sad how we have failed in Iraq and how this has strengthened Iran for a long time to come. Will create major problems in the Israel - Middle East situation.

Posted by: Anagadir | October 25, 2006 06:58 AM

regarding the Holocaust...

What proof do we have that 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust? Did a medical journal like Lancet do a statistical study? Where are the death certificates?

Posted by: Jiminy | October 25, 2006 07:37 AM

Baker or no Baker, a solution for Iraq does not exist. Bush bungled his misadventure so badly that the tempest is unmanageable by anyone except the immediate players, and we are not one of those. The US government and military are simply observers of a destiny they unleashed but cannot control. Our side is impotent in the chaos except perhaps to exacerbate the violence. Bush needs to be held accountable through impeachment. In the process, the truth must be exposed in detail so that American governments in the future never make the savage mistakes this president chose.

Posted by: Ben James | October 25, 2006 10:19 AM

the existence of PNAC, as a document that lays out what happened in Iraq, written in 1997.

Shows intent.

The reason for the document is that the Military Industrial Complex Guys and the we use the Government to make money people were pissed off about Clinton

and their plan being plannus interruptus, for the more sexually minded of you, it's a reference to the raping of LIBERTY and installation of a POWER OVER/FEDERALIZATION of the constitution to make sure

that they didn't get interrupted again.....

to the point that electoral fraud/Katherine Harris, New Hampshire Phone Jamming, ET FRICKING AL

lying, theivery, chicanery, BS propaganda campaigns, homophobia/hate_as_a_family_value

(they completely ignored what the citizenship wanted based upon wanting to put a PNAC government in place)

the long and the short of it is, _they_ is more than bush

it is a COMPLICIT CONGRESS, a corrupt EXECUTIVE BRANCH and a distorted and influential MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX, that Eisen fricking Hower warned about. Get your head out of your fricking rear end!

It's not that hard to see _or_ understand.

please, what abuncha stupid people.


Posted by: dearest boneheads | October 25, 2006 10:38 AM

gregdn wrote:
--I think Bush will withdraw troops next year with or without Baker's help. My question is, after three years of being told 'Stay the Course' what is the Republican base going to do when this happens?

They might do what the past republican in this predicament did, call it peace with honor and withdraw troops leaving Iraq to whoever can win the civil war. But I don't see that happening. Bush has invested too much in this to withdraw all of our forces. I expect him to keep troops locked up on the new bases he's building in Iraq and manipulate the Iraqi government to allow those bases to stay "as a deterent to foreign agression while the Iraqi army is reconstituted", a decades long project. That leaves US troops in Iraq as a forward base looking at Iran, Bush's next adventure, while appearing to disengage from Iraq and "bring the troops home". The question is, will we be fooled again?

Posted by: Sully | October 25, 2006 11:02 AM

I will reluctantly serve my obligation to my country as I swore to do... But I'm afraid I will not return...

I pray someone looks mercifully on my wife and children when I am gone...

Posted by: A Soldier... | October 25, 2006 11:49 AM

The USA after losing its global propaganda war has started to lose its proxy wars in the Middle East while its Deputy Sheriff, with all of its military might, has failed to muster its will on Hezbollah.

This leaves limited options available to Americans to counter their demise in the region, as their dream of "the new Middle East" has collapsed spectacularly. This dream has turned into a nightmare and it has been buried beside the infamous "New World Order".

Read More ...


Posted by: Muhammad Azeem Akhter | October 28, 2006 04:30 PM

wow. col site. christmas gift, christmas!!!

Posted by: gift | November 25, 2006 04:51 PM

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