Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Iraq Study Group's report: File under ignore.

The Baker/Hamilton Iraq Study Group report is finally out and uncle Jimmy has finally gotten his chance to make the boy president to listen to the grown ups. If nothing else comes of this -- which it probably won't -- that will be a major achievement all on its own. Finally someone has told the emperor he's buck naked. There's no doubt W. won't have liked what he heard.

The ISG report's appraisal of the mess in Iraq is pretty stark:

"The situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating. There is no path that can guarantee success, but the prospects can be improved."

Not exactly the 'absolutely we're winning' happy talk he usually hears from his yes-men. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall as Baker made W. take his medicine. I'm probably not going too far out on a limb to guess that W. probably listened impassively, fidgeted in his chair a bit and in the end wound up asking no questions. This would be SOP for the great "decider," who is notoriously incurious about things people tell him that don't correspond to his preconceived notions. And writing that our "leaders must be candid and forthright with the American people," is certianly not going to win Baker any friends in this administration. One committee member reportedly said of Bush's reaction: "[He] was very gracious and did not push back, but he made no commitments." In other words; they were talking to the wall.

Judging from what I've been hearing from administration officials in the media leading up to the report's release, the White House was already prepared to be "under whelmed" by Baker's recommendations. In particular, Baker's crazy notions about talks with Iran and Syria; that was never going to fly. Yesterday, Tony Snow-job threw cold water on the idea of talking to the Iranians by repeating the administration’s oft stated refusal to talk to Tehran until it accepted our preconditions; namely that they stop enriching uranium (which won't be happening). And the US pushing for sanctions against Iran in the Security Councel isn't going to help matters, either. Condi's diplomatic gambit to get Iran to the table is DOA, so rather than expecting any kind of diplomatic effort, I'd say Cheney & Co. will havew a green light for military action.

The administration talking to Syria is equally far fetched, mainly because the chances of getting the Syrian regime to provide the rope to hang themselves in the investigation of the Rafik Hariri assassination are highly improbable. [Baker's Saudi buddies made sure that got in to the report.] Enlisting the assistance of the "axis of evil" in extricating us from the rapidly degenerating inter-religious and ethnic struggle of biblical proportions that is George W. Bush's Middle East is surely a non-starter. This is just the sort of consensus building and diplomatic give-and-take that the Cheney/Rummy cabal and the neocons hated so much about 41 & Co

And what about Israel? On the subject of the Palestinians and the Israelis the reports says:

"The United States cannot achieve its goals in the Middle East unless it deals directly with the Arab/Israeli conflict and regional stability. There must be a renewed and sustained commitment by the United States to a comprehensive Arab/Israeli peace on all fronts. ."

That'll be the day! The Israeli government is pretty adamant that they aren't onboard with the whole idea. Ehud Olmert said yesterday, "The attempt to create a linkage between the Iraqi issue and the Mideast issue - we have a different view. [AP]Not really much of a surprise there. I'm thinking the Israelis aren't about to get involved in any nutty ideas cooked up by James Baker that involve international conferences. They did that once before in Madrid and they felt they gave up too much. [James Baker's political calculations back then, remember, were encapsulated in one famous phrase: "Fuck the Jews, they don't vote for us anyway."] George Bush, the best friend Israel ever had in the White House, isn't about to do anything like force the Israelis to give up the Golan Heights for peace. Perish the thought! (Perhaps, another big shipment of cluster bombs, but nothing like that!)

What makes the ISG think anything W.'s administration could do now would make any difference? They have spent W.'s entire presidency ignoring the Arab/Israeli conflict, except for signing off on anything Israel wanted (and starving the Palestinians half to death), so it's not like the Palestinians should be any more open to the US coming in at this late date and saying they're committed to a two state solution. [Give me a break!]The administration claims it's got Condi over there working on something or other, but the Palestinians and the Lebanese are not likely to forget her infamous piano recital in Kuala Lumpur last summer while Beirut burned. The only way any progress is going to be made is after W. and Condi are out of a job.

I'm affraid W. has screwed the pooch so thouroughly that all the kings men and all the kings horese wouldn't be able to fix this mess.


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