” I would not be surprised if in our state's top two races, the Senate and the 8th Congressional District, we hear more about Baker and the Iraq Study Group and some version of Baker's Sunday money quote:
"I happen to think, and I think it's fair to say our commission believes, that there are alternatives between the stated alternatives ... of stay-the-course and cut-and-run."
Even before Baker's well-publicized comments, Congressman Dave Reichert was relying on his support for the Iraq Study Group to show daylight between him and the president on the war…”
I posted a bit on my initial take on Baker’s role there but I want to go a bit further on the subject here. I said on Postman’s blog, ”It is worth noting, however, that Baker comes from the "diplomacy first" crowd and worked in the Bush Whitehouse that dismissed an Iraqi invasion as... - well as what it has turned out to be. His ties (and I would suggest his loyalties) are to "Bush the father" and that any work he has done for W has been at the behest of the father.” Most folks I know are very familiar with Baker’s role in helping secure the Whitehouse for George W in 2000. He became a much despised man in the circles in which I travel. However, the argument can be made that Baker was acting more out of a sense of loyalty to George HW Bush and the Republican Party than on a personal basis to W himself. His next “job” for Junior came when he was asked to try to mend fences with our allies and ask for financial pledges in the reconstruction of Iraq. Again, this was a job that relied on his own contacts as a former Secretary of State and, I am sure, was encouraged by HW who most likely was hoping for something that might resemble diplomacy from his offspring.
I remarked on more than one occasion during the 2004 election campaign that HW Bush seemed conspicuously absent from the campaign trail. It was (and remains) my opinion that it must have been painful for the former WWII pilot to have to watch his son (who had been afforded a privileged “get out of ‘Nam’ free pass” into the Air National Guard and then snorted his flight wings away) lead this country into an invasion that you yourself advised against. It must have been hard to watch your “frat boy” stand on a stage at a VFW convention and tell them (your brothers in arms) that he was more qualified to lead us to war than a decorated combat veteran. It has to hurt while you watch your influence be replaced by the likes of Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney and, more recently, Henry Kissinger. Is it any wonder HW spends more time with Bill Clinton than with W these days?
Over the course of the past year we have watched something almost unheard of in the history of this country. When Jack Murtha came forward to suggest an exit strategy from Iraq, he came as a respected veteran who had gained the trust at the highest level of the Pentagon. When his words were used to paint him as un-American it sent a signal to the military that they were being disrespected. Within a few months we started to hear from retired generals (some of whom retired just so they could speak out) about how the military effort in Iraq was being mismanaged. This is rare. Even retired generals do not speak with troops on the ground. When those generals came under fire from the Bush administration, it became apparent that George W was operating in a vacuum and the situation was becoming dire. Recently we have begun to hear from generals on the ground that they do not feel they have the tools or troops necessary to do the job and even some voices from the Pentagon are starting to suggest that there are profound differences in the way Bush and Rumsfeld view the situation in Iraq and the way the military sees things. The voices became even louder when Bush suggested changes to the accepted rules of detainee treatment and interrogation. The Judge Advocates for every branch of the military testified against the Bush plan. Realizing that even this was not enough to get W’s attention, former Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell attempted to stand up to his former boss. And now we are hearing from James Baker; perhaps as one last attempt on daddy’s part to get the son’s attention. Oh sure, we are told that Baker is working with the blessings of the Whitehouse but, until we hear a final report from Baker and see W’s response, this may simply be so much lip service.
Now what I have just set out is certainly speculation; possibly even wishful thinking. Baker may indeed simply be running interference for Karl Rove and the Bush regime – providing election year cover for those republicans who wish to run away from Bush in November. However, given that there ever was a time when rational people were responsible for diplomacy and government in this country, it is possible that we have reached the point (particularly in light of the recent nuclear test in North Korea) that those rational folks know they must take their stand or go down in history as not even trying. We can only hope.
Chad (The Left) Shue