Skeptisim on Baker Report From WaPo

Annie

Diamond Member
Joined
Nov 22, 2003
Messages
50,848
Reaction score
4,826
Points
1,790
Very interesting, seems the Dems are not going to be given the green light they seemed to assume:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/12/09/AR2006120900581.html

ad_icon
An Unlikely Offensive
The Iraq Study Group imagines a Middle East that doesn't exist.

Sunday, December 10, 2006; B06

THE IRAQ Study Group's recommendations for shifting U.S. military tactics in the war are specific, focused and aimed at incremental improvement over the next few months; they are also close to what the Pentagon and Iraqi government already were hoping to achieve. By contrast, the group's diplomatic strategy is sweeping -- and untethered to reality. The Bush administration could and should adopt some version of the military plan, though it would be right to ignore the unrealistic timetable attached to it. But to embrace the group's proposed "New Diplomatic Offensive" would be to suppose a Middle East very different from what's on the ground.

Start with the supposition that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is somehow central to ending the chaos in Iraq. In fact, even if the two-state solution sought by the Bush administration were achieved, it's difficult to imagine how or why that would cause Sunnis and Shiites to cease their sectarian war in Baghdad or the Baathist-al Qaeda insurgency to stand down. It's no doubt true, as study group chairmen James A. Baker III and Lee H. Hamilton have said, that every Arab leader they met told them that an Israeli-Arab settlement must be the first priority. But the princes and dictators of Riyadh, Cairo and Amman have been delivering that tired line to American envoys for decades: It is their favorite excuse for failing to support U.S. initiatives and for refusing to reform their own moribund autocracies. In fact, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and other Iraqi neighbors have vital interests in the ongoing Iraqi power struggle. They can and should be moved to help stop the slide toward anarchy on their borders whether or not peace breaks out in Jerusalem.

Mr. Baker, who pursued a Mideast diplomatic strategy 15 years ago focused in large part on Syria, also conjectures that its regime can be "flipped," so that it abandons its current alliance with Iran and support for extremist movements in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories. The problem with his theory is that since 1991 Syria has acquired a new leader: Bashar al-Assad is very different from his father, Hafez, with whom Mr. Baker negotiated. Bashar al-Assad, along with several senior members of his retinue, has been personally implicated in a United Nations investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri. Judging from its recent actions, Syria's top diplomatic priority is not recovering the Golan Heights from Israel -- as Mr. Baker supposes -- but stopping the U.N. investigation and undermining Lebanon's pro-Western democratic government. European envoys who have met Mr. Assad in recent weeks dismiss the possibility of a dramatic reversal of his policies.

Parts of the Baker-Hamilton diplomatic agenda make good sense, including its suggestion for a contact group of Iraq's neighbors, including Iran and Syria. The Iraqi government already has embraced the notion, by proposing a regional conference in Baghdad, and President Bush would be wise to get on board. Syria and Iran could remain adversaries of the United States across the region yet still play a role in a group where the pressing common interest is avoiding a regional sectarian war.

By the same token, the administration ought to continue its efforts to promote the creation of a Palestinian government capable of undertaking the peace negotiations that Israeli Prime Minster Ehud Olmert offered last month. It should also continue to press hard for U.N. sanctions against Iran's nuclear program and seek sanctions against Syria if it continues to flout U.N. resolutions calling for it to cease its meddling in Lebanon. All these steps could strengthen Arab moderates and U.S. allies around the region. But they won't solve the problems in Iraq.
 
OP
Annie

Annie

Diamond Member
Joined
Nov 22, 2003
Messages
50,848
Reaction score
4,826
Points
1,790
Gotta wonder what they would make Israel do, IF it didn't control the US Government :rolleyes:

http://www.suntimes.com/news/steyn/166078,CST-EDT-steyn10.article

ISG must stand for, uh, Inane Strategy Guesswork

December 10, 2006

BY MARK STEYN Sun-Times Columnist

Well, the ISG -- the Illustrious Seniors' Group -- has released its 79-point plan. How unprecedented is it? Well, it seems Iraq is to come under something called the "Iraq International Support Group." If only Neville Chamberlain had thought to propose a "support group" for Czechoslovakia, he might still be in office. Or guest-hosting for Oprah.

But, alas, such flashes of originality are few and far between in what's otherwise a testament to conventional wisdom. How conventional is the ISG's conventional wisdom? Try page 49:

"RECOMMENDATION 5: The Support Group should consist of Iraq and all the states bordering Iraq, including Iran and Syria . . ."


Er, OK. I suppose that's what you famously hardheaded "realists" mean by realism. But wait, we're not done yet. For this "Support Group," we need the extra-large function room. Aside from Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Kuwait, the ISG -- the Iraq Surrender Gran'pas -- want also to invite:

". . . the key regional states, including Egypt and the Gulf States . . ."

Er, OK. So it's basically an Arab League meeting. Not a "Support Group" I'd want to look for support from, but each to his own. But wait, Secretary Baker's still warming up:

". . . the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council . . ."

That would be America, Britain, France, Russia, China. A diverse quintet, representing many distinctive approaches to international affairs from stylish hauteur to polonium-210. Anybody else?

". . . the European Union . . ."

Hey, why not? It's not really multilateral unless there's a Belgian on board, right? Oh, and let's not forget:

". . . the Support Group should call on the participation of the United Nations Secretary-General in its work. The United Nations Secretary-General should designate a Special Envoy as his representative . . ."

Indeed. But it needs to be someone with real clout, like Benon Sevan, the former head of the Oil for Food Program, who recently, ah, stepped down; or Maurice Strong, the Under-Secretary-General for U.N. Reform and godfather of Kyoto, who for one reason or another is presently on a, shall we say, leave of absence; or Alexander Yakovlev, the senior procurement officer for U.N. peacekeeping, who also finds himself under indictment -- er, I mean under-employed. There's no end of top-class talent at the U.N., now that John Bolton's been expelled from its precincts.

So there you have it: an Iraq "Support Group" that brings together the Arab League, the European Union, Iran, Russia, China and the U.N. And with support like that who needs lack of support? It worked in Darfur, where the international community reached unanimous agreement on the urgent need to rent a zeppelin to fly over the beleaguered region trailing a big banner emblazoned "YOU'RE SCREWED." For Dar4.1, they can just divert it to Baghdad.

Oh, but lest you think there are no minimum admission criteria to James Baker's "Support Group," relax, it's a very restricted membership: Arabs, Persians, Chinese commies, French obstructionists, Russian assassination squads. But no Jews. Even though Israel is the only country to be required to make specific concessions -- return the Golan Heights, etc. Indeed, insofar as this document has any novelty value, it's in the Frankenstein-meets-the-Wolfman sense of a boffo convergence of hit franchises: a Vietnam bug-out, but with the Jews as the designated fall guys. Wow. That's what Hollywood would call "high concept."

Why would anyone -- even a short-sighted incompetent political fixer whose brilliant advice includes telling the first Bush that no one would care if he abandoned the "Read my lips" pledge -- why would even he think it a smart move to mortgage Iraq's future to anything as intractable as the Palestinian "right of return"? And, incidentally, how did that phrase -- "the right of return" -- get so carelessly inserted into a document signed by two former secretaries of state, two former senators, a former attorney general, Supreme Court judge, defense secretary, congressman, etc. These are by far the most prominent Americans ever to legitimize a concept whose very purpose is to render any Zionist entity impossible. I'm not one of those who assumes that just because much of James Baker's post-government career has been so lavishly endowed by the Saudis that he must necessarily be a wholly owned subsidiary of King Abdullah, but it's striking how this document frames all the issues within the pathologies of the enemy.

And that's before we get to Iran and Syria. So tough-minded and specific when it comes to the Israelis, Baker turns to mush when it comes to Assad assassinating his way through Lebanon's shrinking Christian community or Ahmadinejad and the mullahs painting the finish trim on the Iranian nukes. Syria, declare the Surrender Gran'pas, "should control its border with Iraq." Gee, who'dda thunk o' that other than these geniuses?

Actually, Syria doesn't need to "control its border with Iraq." Iraq needs to control its border with Syria. And, as long as the traffic's all one way (because Syria's been allowed to subvert Iraq with impunity for three years), that suits Assad just fine. The Surrender Gran'pas assert that Iran and Syria have "an interest in avoiding chaos in Iraq." This, to put it mildly, is news to the Iranians and Syrians, who have concluded that what's in their interest is much more chaos in Iraq. For a start, the Americans get blamed for it, which reduces America's influence in the broader Middle East, not least among Iran and Syria's opposition movements. Furthermore, the fact that they're known to be fomenting the chaos gives the mullahs, Assad and their proxies tremendous credibility in the rest of the Muslim world. James Baker has achieved the perfect reductio ad absurdum of diplomatic self-adulation: he's less rational than Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

If they're lucky, this document will be tossed in the trash and these men and women will be the laughingstocks of posterity. But, if it's not shredded and we embark down this path, then the Baker group will be emblematic of something far worse. The "Support Group" is a "peace conference," and Baker wants Washington to sue for terms. No wonder Syria is already demanding concessions from America. Which is the superpower and which is the third-rate basket-case state? From the Middle Eastern and European press coverage of the Baker group, it's kinda hard to tell.
 

Most reactions - Past 7 days

Top