March 20, 2006
The cracks and fissures are finally beginning to appear in Fortress Bush. The AP is reporting that Congress quietly appointed an "Iraq Study Group" headed by James A. Baker to "assess the Bush administration’s policies in Iraq and political and economic developments in the troubled country". In other words, Baker has been picked to tell Bush that the war is over; we lost.
The group was voted into being with little fanfare to spare the White House any unnecessary embarrassment, but the message is clear; the adults are finally stepping in. The war has been so appallingly mismanaged that jittery American elites are forcing themselves back into the policy-making apparatus.
The group is led by Bush-family friend and consigliore, James Baker who helped the president squeak-by in election 2000 by convincing the Supreme Court that his client (George Bush) would suffer "irreparable harm" if the legally cast Florida ballots were counted. Now, Baker has returned, leading a team of disgruntled government big-wigs and policy-wonks to see if they can extricate the recalcitrant executive from his Babylon folly. The move illustrates the widening chasm between American elites and the White House over the bungled handling of the war. In the last two weeks, die-hard conservatives William Buckley and Francis Fukuyama "bailed out" decrying the present policy as a failure and urging the administration to change course.
Just days ago, Carter’s National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, a foreign policy giant and master of American-style Realpolitik, added his voice to the growing chorus of nay-sayers; opining that it was time for the withdrawal of American troops. It is unlikely that Buckley, Fukuyama, or Brzezinski would concede defeat if it was just a matter of wiping out another 100,000 Iraqis or so. Their judgment is predicated on the simple fact that the U.S. will not win.
The newly-formed Baker group consists of political insiders and powerbrokers who typically work behind the scenes to guide the ship of state in a corporate-friendly direction. Members include former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, head of the Woodrow Wilson Center, Lee Hamilton, former CIA Director Robert Gates, former Clinton advisor Vernon Jordan, former Clinton chief of staff Leon Panetta, former Defense Secretary William Perry, former Senator of Virginia Chuck Robb, and Former Senator of Wyoming Alan Simpson.
Traditionally, the real power in Washington derives from a core of elites who hale from the various think-tanks and semi-secret organizations (particularly the 4,200 member Council on Foreign Relations CFR) that provide the financial support for congressional campaigns and political maneuvering. This new commission represents a departure from their normal modus operandi of working behind the scenes. That implies that the situation is graver than we think. Baker would never humiliate the president unless the plutocrats were running scared, but Bush has given them little choice. The deteriorating situation in Iraq and the thickheaded disregard for differing opinions has raised the level of angst among Baker’s friends and precipitated a major crisis.
The group is put together to look like a "fact-finding" mission, but it’s not hard to figure out what’s going on. All of the members are well-connected with contacts on ground in Iraq as well as in the military. They know what is going on in Iraq; it’s a mess, that’s why they have decided to break with precedent and jump in headfirst.
The group will probably produce a document that will tell the nation that the 'war has been lost’ and we should prepare to leave immediately. There’s no telling what the media’s response will be. Some will see it as a conspiracy by panicky Americans Mandarins who want to wrest power from the small cadres of fanatics and neocons that surround the president. In fact, that is exactly the case.
In just six years Bush has enraged enemies, alienated allies, increased terrorism, eviscerated America’s moral authority, and savaged the military. In fact, military equipment is deteriorating at five times the normal rate and many soldiers are now headed for their forth tour in Iraq. Baker knows that this situation is not sustainable.
He’ll try to pile up enough facts to make his case before the American people hoping administration die-hards will see the light. It won’t be easy.
It’s likely that the group will make concrete suggestions concerning a timetable for complete withdrawal, a plan to remove troops from all Sunni cities, negotiations with high-ranking members of the Iraqi resistance, appeals for international assistance, and stealth-agreements for future oil concessions.
There are many glaring ironies about Baker’s involvement in the present coup. Baker not only led the charge in the 2000 election; he also headed the Independent Task Force on Strategic Energy Policy Challenge for the 21st Century for the Council on Foreign Relations. As Lawrence Shoup reports in "The CFR Debates Torture" ( Z Magazine March 2006) "Fifty one task force members, many of them connected to the oil industry, signed the report which reached a consensus on a number of questions. The first general conclusion was that 'a new era of energy scarcity’ was upon the world…presenting fundamental obstacles to continued economic growth and prosperity. …"
The report advised the forming of an "interagency process to articulate and promote energy security policy" …noting that the Bush administration has moved has moved rapidly in this direction through the creation of the White House Energy Policy Development Group headed by Vice President Dick Cheney".( Lawrence Shoup; "The CFR Debates Torture")
This was the beginning of the dividing up of Iraq according to future contracts with the oil giants. (all behind closed doors) This suggests that it was James A. Baker who provided the report to the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) that persuaded them that 'something had to be done about Iraq’.
Now he’s back telling them its time to quit.
Baker’s new assignment is to loosen the madman’s grip on the nations’ steering wheel and glide the people’s-wagon back to safety. Expect to see Baker looking a lot like Sisyphus pushing his boulder up the hill.
After years of struggle, Baker and company have finally created the one-party system of their dreams with a government that is unaccountable to the people, the law, or its political base. Unfortunately, he’s about to learn what others have known for some time; the nation is in the vice-like grip of homicidal maniacs who have no intention of relinquishing power or admitting defeat.
Courtesy and copyright © Mike Whitney