View Full Version : Mopping up the neo con mess...the adults are finding their way back to DC

04-24-2006, 06:48 PM
and are going to attempt to clean up after Jr's playtime.


The Times April 25, 2006

Bush 'janitor' back to mop up
By Tom Baldwin

The US President is relying on his father's key ally to find a way out of the Iraq war

THE Bush family’s faithful fixer is, with little fanfare, slipping back into the key role of finding a “way forward” — if not a way out — for America in Iraq.

When James Baker last month became co-chairman of a congressional task force known as the Iraq Study Group, the news was buried beneath an avalanche of headlines about the invasion’s third anniversary and the deepening troubles of the Administration.

But slowly Washington is waking up to just how significant the re-emergence of this 75-year-old statesman may be.

Although Mr Baker’s appointment is understood to have been made with the blessing of the White House, he will forever be associated more with the first President Bush than the second.

As such, he is not only representative of a different era of foreign policy, but he is also a target of the neoconservatives, who held sway in Washington until recently. For them he embodies the cautious pragmatism of the 41st President, not the bold approach of the 43rd.

Well-placed sources told The Times that Mr Bush had lately been consulting his father more often. This has coincided with a return to a multilateral approach to foreign policy. Mr Baker was Secretary of State at the time of the Gulf War, when he argued forcefully that it would be “ridiculous from a practical standpoint” for US troops to march on to Baghdad and oust Saddam Hussein.

Such a course would “play into the hands of the mullahs of Iran” and lead to civil war, the loss of international support for the US and the fragmentation of Iraq, he said. He has told friends that he now feels vindicated.

Although Mr Baker has avoided direct criticism of the President he did, just before the invasion, say: “This is a war of choice, more so, perhaps, than a war of necessity.”

This was a formulation often used by covert critics of Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and Mr Bush, who claimed that the invasion was a crucial step towards defeating terrorism. To the chagrin of hawks in Washington, Mr Baker — with Tony Blair and others from the first Bush Administration — helped to persuade the White House to seek backing from the United Nations for the invasion.

“We should try our best not to have to go it alone and the President should reject the advice of those who counsel doing so,” he wrote in The New York Times in August 2002.

The Iraq Study Group is intended as a bipartisan attempt to inject some realism into the bitter political debate on Iraq. Mr Baker’s co-chairman is Lee Hamilton, a former Democrat congressman, who says that the group is not seeking to revisit past arguments about the case for war. “We will leave that to historians,” he has said.

Other members include Rudolph Giuliani, the former Mayor of New York, Robert Gates, a former CIA director, and two key members of Bill Clinton’s Administration, Leon Panetta and William Perry.

No time frame will be set for results, Mr Baker said. “We have no illusion whatsoever about the difficulty of this task.” Asked whether the White House was being supportive, he replied: “The Administration, as we understand it, will welcome the effort.”

Karen Hughes, a member of the President’s beleaguered inner circle, recently gushed: “I know how grateful [he] is for Secretary Baker’s current work on Iraq.”

A source close to the group told The New York Times that it would be a mistake to believe that Mr Baker was seeking the “silver bullet” to kill the issue and extricate the US from Iraq. But the source compared Mr Baker’s role with that of Dean Acheson, brought in by President Johnson in 1968 to provide advice on Vietnam. Mr Johnson subsequently halted the bombing of North Vietnam and announced that he would not seek re-election.

Mr Baker has been described as “janitor” to the Bush family because he cleans up whenever they leave a mess. He is said to have fallen out with the younger Mr Bush in 1992 when he refused to take over his father’s faltering re-election campaign until too late.
But in the Florida recount eight years later, his political and legal acumen helped to ensure that a second Bush entered the White House.


“We believed . . . that marching on Baghdad was ridiculous from a practical standpoint”
The Politics of Democracy, 1995

“Diplomatically, pressing on to Baghdad would have caused not just a rift but an earthquake within the coalition. Had we opted for this approach, we would never have been in a position to create a meaningful peace process because we would have lost the Arab members of the coalition”
The Politics of Democracy, 1995

“We should try our best not to have to go it alone, and the President should reject the advice of those who counsel doing so”
The New York Times, August 2002

“Any appearance of a permanent occupation will . . . play directly into the hands of those in the Middle East who suspect us of imperial design”
On the Iraq occupation, January 2005

Adept Havelock
04-24-2006, 06:54 PM
Part of me wants to say "About damn time". Sadly, it's likely too little, too late.