Matthew Yglesias notes that James Baker's Iraq Study Group is a fraud, intended not to bring Bush back to reality but to provide more support for his fantasies:
Matthew Yglesias / proudly eponymous since 2002: The Commission: Via Jim Henley, a Guardian story shows once again that Democrats can't count on James Baker to solve the Iraq issue: "Mr Bush's refusal to give ground, coming in the teeth of growing calls in the US and Britain for a radical rethink or a swift exit, is having a decisive impact on the policy review being conducted by the Iraq Study Group chaired by Bush family loyalist James Baker, the sources said."
The Commission, in other words, not only won't change Bush's mind, but is changing its own mind to suit Bush's blinkered worldview. The idea that the enforcer sent down to Florida to help finesse the will of the electorate away in 2000 was going to be a big help to the Democratic Party always seemed like something to be skeptical about.
It's worse than that, Matt. The idea that the enforcer sent down to Florida to help finesse the will of the electorate away in 2000 was going to be a big help to the American people and the national interest always seemed like something to be skeptical about. Jim Baker regards his key role as backing up George W. Bush's fantasies rather than bringing him to reality.
More from the Manchester Guardian:
US plans last big push in Iraq | Special reports | Guardian Unlimited: "You've got to remember, whatever the Democrats say, it's Bush still calling the shots. He believes it's a matter of political will. That's what [Henry] Kissinger told him. And he's going to stick with it," a former senior administration official said. "He [Bush] is in a state of denial about Iraq. Nobody else is any more. But he is. But he knows he's got less than a year, maybe six months, to make it work. If it fails, I expect the withdrawal process to begin next fall."
The "last push" strategy is also intended to give Mr Bush and the Republicans "political time and space" to recover from their election drubbing and prepare for the 2008 presidential campaign, the official said. "The Iraq Study Group buys time for the president to have one last go. If the Democrats are smart, they'll play along, and I think they will. But forget about bipartisanship. It's all about who's going to be in best shape to win the White House.
The official added: "Bush has said 'no' to withdrawal, so what else do you have? The Baker report will be a set of ideas, more realistic than in the past, that can be used as political tools. What they're going to say is: lower the goals, forget about the democracy crap, put more resources in, do it."
What else do you have? Well, the Baker Commission could fulfill its mandate and tell the Congress the most important thing that could be done to improve the U.S.'s chances in Iraq, the Middle East, and around the world. If George W. Bush and Richard Cheney were to be removed from office, the situation would look so much brighter.
Here's Jim Henley
Jim Henley: Once More Into the Breach!: The "breach" being the President's ass, his head being what's going in "once more." Per the Guardian:
President George Bush has told senior advisers that the US and its allies must make "a last big push" to win the war in Iraq and that instead of beginning a troop withdrawal next year, he may increase US forces by up to 20,000 soldiers, according to sources familiar with the administration's internal deliberations.
Mr Bush's refusal to give ground, coming in the teeth of growing calls in the US and Britain for a radical rethink or a swift exit, is having a decisive impact on the policy review being conducted by the Iraq Study Group chaired by Bush family loyalist James Baker, the sources said.
Keep in mind that the ISG works for the White House. George Bush is its sole real customer, certainly not any pious abstraction like "the American people." The Repubs on the panel are going to bow.... Theoretically the Dems might not, but you have to consider the official Democratic Party's proven record of cowardice, befuddlement and dithering on the topic of Iraq. I figure at least some committee members will feel duty-bound to sign on to a "bipartisan"report that is, since it%u2019s what the President wants, in truth as partisan as reports get.
"The extent to which that [regional cooperation] will include talking to Iran and Syria is still up for debate," said Patrick Cronin, of the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
Translation: the President, and especially the Vice President, don't want to talk to Iran or Syria. At most they are willing to issue their preexisting and empty ultimata face to face rather than through the media.
Point three focuses on reviving the national reconciliation process between Shia, Sunni and other ethnic and religious parties. According to the sources, creating a credible political framework will be portrayed as crucial in persuading Iraqis and neighbouring countries alike that Iraq can become a fully functional state.
To the certain dismay of US neo-cons, initial post-invasion ideas about imposing fully-fledged western democratic standards will be set aside. And the report is expected to warn that de facto tripartite partition within a loose federal system, as advocated by Democratic senator Joe Biden and others would lead not to peaceful power-sharing but a large-scale humanitarian crisis.
bipartisan plan to install a junta or dictator. Iraq the Model! of covering your domestic ass politically. Which is important, because who wants everyone to see your ass when you've got a great big old head jammed up there?
Now, a field guide: The proposal clearly amounts to nothing more than avoiding the admission of defeat until it's time for the Bush Administration to leave office. No matter what Poppy and the family fixit man privately feel about the wisdom of starting the Iraq War or the idiocy of its prosecution, they will do everything to bail out their ward. He is their priority, not any quaint notion of the national interest. You've got to make the tough choices...
Here is General Abizaid saying that the "one big push" the Bushies are pushing for is simply stupid:
Informed Comment: Abizaid Opposes Withdrawal, Increase in Troop Levels: Here's how I interpret the contretemps Wednesday between Gen. John Abizaid and Republican Senator John McCain. McCain wants to send another division, about 20,000 US troops, to Iraq.
Abizaid told him:
- that would produce only a temporary improvement since the US doesn't have a spare division to send to Iraq for the long term and
- Increased US troop levels are counterproductive because they remove the incentive for the Iraqi government and army to get their acts together and fight the guerrillas and militias effectively and
- If Iraq is going to come back to better days, it will have to be primarily with Iraqi troops and
- Iraqi troops are not now doing the job, so if more US troops are sent to Iraq it should be as trainers and units available for joint patrols, not as independent combat troops....
Juan Cole comments:
[M]ost of Abizaid's arguments could also be deployed for a phased withdrawal, which he opposed.... What if it isn't just an increased US presence that would remove the incentive for Iraqi leaders to compromise and/or fight effectively? What if present troop levels do that? I say, let's take out a division ASAP (20,000 men) and make it clear that we're never putting a division back in to replace it. Then let the Iraqis try to fill the resulting vacuum themselves. Give them armored vehicles, tanks, helicopter gunships, and a nice wood-panelled room where they can negotiate with one another.... Such a phased withdrawal is not guaranteed to succeed. It has a better chance of succeeding than the current policy.