Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Wow.

This is from the Times Online, and it's pretty amazing stuff if true. Both Baker Commission options mentioned here imply the complete negation of the Bush Administration's raison d'être: to defeat terrorism with all sticks and no carrots. Bush & Co. have bet everything on the proposition that the politicians and statesmen of the last 3,000 years, who have slowly and incrementally built the science and art of diplomacy, are idiots, and that only they understand the true nature of reality.

In political terms, the "Stability First" option could be a little more palatable for Republicans, since "Redeploy and Contain," from what little is said here about it, appears to be nothing less than the wholesale acceptance of the Murtha Plan. All the carping chickenhawks will have to either choke down their "cut and run" crow, or identify a microscopic distinction between the Baker and Murtha phrasings to justify their support for it.

Either way, it appears that, if November is the bloodbath some are predicting, the Republican establishment will take George Bush across its knee. We can expect a very dejected cheerleader-in-chief for the next two years.

US panel to propose Iraq policy U-turn
By Devika Bhat

A high-level panel set up to advise the White House on Iraq is to propose radical changes to US policy including the large-scale withdrawal of US troops, it has been reported.

The commission, which is headed by James Baker, the former Secretary of State under the first President Bush, will recommend two options which would effectively represent reversals of US policy.

One of these, called "Redeploy and Contain", would see the phased withdrawal of US troops to bases outside Iraq where they could be deployed against terrorist organisations anywhere in the region.

Another alternative, titled "Stability First", calls for continuing to try to stabilise Baghdad and boosting efforts to bring insurgents into politics, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times. Under this option, Iraq’s neighbours, Iran and Syria, would be brought in to help end the fighting.

The ten-member commission, called the Iraq Study Group, will release its recommendations in the coming months. It was set up by Congress but has been endorsed by President Bush.
Apart from Mr Baker, who is one of the Bush family's closest political allies, other members include Lee Hamilton, former Congressman, who also served as co-chairman of the commission investigating the September 11 attacks, Sandra Day O’Connor, retired Supreme Court of Justice, and Leon Panetta, a Californian Democrat who was President Bill Clinton’s chief of staff.

It is unclear how willing Mr Bush is to change his strategy, which centres around improving security in Baghdad, training Iraqi security forces, and pushing the Iraq government to find political agreement amongst rival groups. The President has insisted on more than one occasion that the US will not leave Iraq "until the job is done", but last week he also said in a news conference that he was open to ideas.

When the panel was formed in March, it was hoped by some administration officials that it would produce a bipartisan endorsement of existing policy. But as sectarian violence in Iraq has worsened, there have been increasing calls for the White House to rethink its policy, with even senior Republicans saying that changes are necessary.

While refusing to comment directly on the report in the LA Times, White House officials have been eager to make clear in recent weeks that while they intend to look seriously at the panel’s recommendations, there was no obligation for the President to follow them. "We’re not going to outsource the business of handling the war in Iraq," said Tony Snow, the White House spokesman.

Crucially, a third option on Iraq, entitled "Stay the Course, Redefine the Mission", appeared to gain less interest from the panel according to the LA Times, with members reportedly agreeing that change had to be made.

"It’s not going to be ‘stay the course,’" the newspaper quotes one participant as saying. "The bottom line is, (current policy) isn’t working. There’s got to be another way."

Mr Baker has hinted in recent weeks that the report would recommend changes, some of which the White House would not necessarily welcome. "There’ll probably be some things in our report that the administration might not like," he said in a television interview last week.
"Our commission believes that there are alternatives between the stated alternatives, the ones that are out there in the political debate of 'stay the course' and 'cut and run,' " he added, also implying he had considered the option of reaching out to Iran and Syria.

"I personally believe in talking to your enemies," he said. "Neither the Syrians nor the Iranians want a chaotic Iraq ... so maybe there is some potential for getting something other than opposition from those countries."

Another participant, speaking anonymously, revealed that the commission was also considering whether the US should threaten the Iraqi government that it would withdraw troops unless its performance improved.

But yesterday in a telephone conversation, Mr Bush told Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi Prime Minister, that he had no plans to pull forces out of the country, insisting that the US would continue to stand strong despite the daily violence which has plagued the nation.

A rise in American casualties in recent weeks, as communal violence spirals ever more out of control, has served only to boost the likelihood that the President will face increasing pressure to change his policy. At least 58 Americans have died in Iraq in the first two weeks of October, a pace that, if continued, would make the month the worst for coalition forces since 107 US soldiers died in January 2005.

4 Comments:

Blogger sexyretard said...

I share the belief that the ground occupation is a mistake.

Is it possible, however, that far from not being diplomatic enough, that George W's failure is really in his inability to kick the requisite ass? Best not to fight a war, but if you must, you fight to win and then you get the hell out of there.

Maybe what Bush needs to do, now that his party is about to take one up the poopchute, is give everyone 25 hours to get themselves and grandpa out of the Sunni triangle and then level it to nothing, and then drop food everywhere else. One week later, if the terrorists have found somewhere else to concentrate, the same terms can be offered, with the same amount of food dropped.

But the ass kicking is necessary. Having our troops over there, essentially for target practice, is utter bullshit. Either fight the war to win it, or don't fight it at all.

But limp-wristed diplomacy isn't the answer--that was tried with Kim Jong Il to great victory and success!!!!

6:49 PM  
Blogger Germanicu$ said...

Jeff: "All the carping chickenhawks will have to either choke down their "cut and run" crow, or identify a microscopic distinction between the Baker and Murtha phrasings to justify their support for it."

Right, but they would have had to do that eventually anyway. We can't keep the massive troop presence there forever. Conveniently, this decision won't have to be made by said hawks until AFTER the election.

I am more convinced than ever that "staying the course" means absolutely nothing, since there is no "course." "It is unclear how willing Mr Bush is to change his strategy, " says the Times Online, implying that there is a strategy to begin with. Appointing commissions to describe how bad things are in Iraq does not constitute a strategy. At best we have a mish-mash of ideologies masquerading as objectives, the most dominant being the Rumsfeld "tough love" approach of letting the Iraqis do the hard work of being blown up by IEDs.

12:47 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

"But limp-wristed diplomacy isn't the answer--that was tried with Kim Jong Il to great victory and success!!!!"

I have to take issue with you SexTard. I think that diplomacy in the classical sense is part of the larger concept of statecraft, and in this sense diplomacy itself depends on the appropriateness of ass-kicking when absolutely necessary.

But in the case of N. Korea that you mention, how exactly should we go about that ass-kicking? One of the greatest moments of the Bush presidency was when he told that reporter that he had a visceral reaction to Kim Jong Il because the guy was starving his own people. I think we can both agree on Kim's motives and objectives, and that he's going to get those nukes, one way or the other, in order to get respect from the global community.

You might say that this is a textbook example of an appropriate time to use force, but who wants to take an action that will mean the immediate incineration of tens of thousands of South Koreans and Japanese? This is a situation in which we have to recognize that things beyond our control (NK's vast array of missiles and its proximity to SK and Japan) limit our options (which, incidentally, is why the Bush administration has been so avoidant about the whole thing--recognizing constraints is not how they like to view themselves). So what do you do? Nothing, like the Bush administration, even though you have no other options? Or do you engage diplomatically like the Clinton administration, slow their nuke program, get inspectors on the ground, and, ultimately, through your public willingness to compromise, bank some good will in the international community in the horrifying event that do have to use force somewhere down the line?

The latter course of action is repugnant in lots of ways, but given the circumstances, what would you do?

9:23 AM  
Blogger sexyretard said...

"You might say that this is a textbook example of an appropriate time to use force, but who wants to take an action that will mean the immediate incineration of tens of thousands of South Koreans and Japanese?"

I think the first thing you do is lean a little harder on the Chinese. We need to take our business and "most favored nation" trade status elsewhere, or they need to stop trading with North Korea. Trying the "Clinton" approach of negotiations with megalomaniacs, which is how we got here in the first place, isn't going to do it.

But if we are not going to use force, then we must not pretend that we will. We told Kim Jung Il that if he tested a nuclear weapon that there would be serious repercussions (sp) and I don't see them. We also tell the Chinese that their human rights record is abysmal, and then we get into a trade deficit with them. With all due respect to my residents, how retarded is our foreign policy? It's all of the retard and none of the sexyness, and I wish an actual man would get elected to the office of President of the United States.

9:00 AM  

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