The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Thursday, August 10, 2006

James Baker called in to "fix" Iraq

Interesting story in the Washington Monthly. James Baker is as close as you can get to the Bushes, referred to as their fixer or (as in this article) consigliere, and was on the ground in Florida working to get the recount stopped and the case taken to the Supreme Court. Good for the family fortunes, not so good for tens of thousands of dead Americans and Iraqis.

But the White House is worried that the disastrous invasion of Iraq (and its attendant war profiteering and generally incompetent execution) could cost them dearly if the elections don't go their way this November, and they've called in Baker to help out. But it could just be about shielding Bush and his cronies from accountability.

Since March, Baker, backed by a team of experienced national-security hands, has been busily at work trying to devise a fresh set of policies to help the president chart a new course in--or, perhaps, to get the hell out of--Iraq. But as with all things involving James Baker, there's a deeper political agenda at work as well. "Baker is primarily motivated by his desire to avoid a war at home--that things will fall apart not on the battlefield but at home. So he wants a ceasefire in American politics," a member of one of the commission's working groups told me. Specifically, he said, if the Democrats win back one or both houses of Congress in November, they would unleash a series of investigative hearings on Iraq, the war on terrorism, and civil liberties that could fatally weaken the administration and remove the last props of political support for the war, setting the stage for a potential Republican electoral disaster in 2008. "I guess there are people in the [Republican] party, on the Hill and in the White House, who see a political train wreck coming, and they've called in Baker to try to reroute the train."

As the article subsequently notes, some insiders view this optimistically as a chance to inject some sanity into White House policy (there are no neocons in the secretive group), but concede that "it's Baker's show," and his true motives remain unkown.