Friday, October 27, 2006

Blumenthal: Bush’s Policy Quagmire - Salon

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Bush can get away with stealing elections and with committing war crimes, but I would be very surprised if he could get away with diddling James Baker. DS

Abstract: The post-midterm-elections politics over Iraq have already begun. Many serious factors weigh on President Bush’s mind as he speaks about his quagmire. Besides the state of the war and the stability of the Iraqi government, the one that he stresses repeatedly and spontaneously is the commission on Iraq policy chaired by former Democratic Rep. Lee Hamilton and, most important, James A. Baker III, the elder Bush’s close associate and his secretary of state, who is scheduled to report to Congress and the president after the elections, when, presumably, one or both houses of Congress will fall to the Democrats. A new Democratic House (and perhaps Senate) will be receptive to Baker’s proposals. But will Bush?(...) Bush is engaged in a shadow politics of fending off Baker that he can’t admit and that require new disingenuous explanations for rejection even before receiving Baker’s report. But will consummate political player Baker permit a dynamic in which he is humiliated and join the ranks of the dismissed and discarded, like “good soldier” Colin Powell? If Baker, taking his cue from Bush’s rebuke, simply closes ranks, what would have been his point, except to highlight his failure at an attempted rescue? By undermining Baker, especially beforehand, Bush sends a signal that he is determined to maintain his counterproductive strategies in Iraq and the Middle East. Yet his tightening coil will trigger further attempts among U.S. allies and Arab governments to disentangle themselves.(...) When Bush was asked if he supported Baker’s suggestion of negotiations with Iran, he knocked it down, putting the onus entirely on the Iranians and making any negotiations dependent on their acceptance of U.S.-European demands not to develop nuclear weapons. Baker’s idea is not tied to those conditions. On Syria, Bush reiterated his old position and said, “They know our position, as well.” Since they already know it, there is no need for the diplomatic initiative Baker proposes.(...) Now it’s Baker’s move. Read More

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