The ISG farce, Part 2

_41445788_bakerhamil_getty203b "..The group of mainstream foreign policy experts is not poised to make radical suggestions when it unveils its report, but official Washington has expected both parties to seize on its ideas for political cover…"  Kessler and Ricks in Washpost.


I haven’t changed my mind about the likelihood of a major change in American policy in Iraq.  The "decider" ain’t got it in him.  What do people think he is going to "decide?"  To withdraw from Iraq?  If he does that, then he will be seen for all time as a failed president.  He knows that.  Is he going to accept giving Syria and Iran a direct stake in the outcome in Iraq?  His position on Iran is public and well known.  More failure on his part will be perceived if he lets the Persians play the role that they want.  Syria?  Hah!!  Hah!! Hah!! 

What we should hope for is that he has no more compunction about abandoning his "game face" vis a vis the "evildoers" than he has announced with regard to the Democrats whom he was denouncing as akin to traitors a week ago.

Most amazing of all is the "newsy" hysteria being generated by the 24/7 broadcast media over the ISG/SECDEF business.  In recent years it has become evident that the cable news outfits have become generators of mass hysteria.  They bring in their tub thumping anchors, their "experts," their favorite print news people, their favorite congress people and among themselves conduct an orgy of mutual intellectual masturbation that starts with rumor and quickly becomes self sustaining.

The Baker/ISG thing is just the latest, and will not be the last example.  The same press people were deeply complicit in building war hysteria before we entered Iraq.  These are the same folks who now eagerly agree with each other that "no one" could have known.

Pat Lang

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36 Responses to The ISG farce, Part 2

  1. Cloned Poster says:

    In recent years it has become evident that the cable news outfits have become generators of mass hysteria. They bring in their tub thumping anchors, their “experts,” their favorite print news people, their favorite congress people and among themselves conduct an orgy of mutual intellectual masturbarion that starts with rumor and quickly becomes self sustaining.
    Best quote I have ever read of the shameless media, just look at “Terra.. Terra.. Terra..” coverage on the BBC at the moment, all geared to get Blair his ninety day detention (and deflect US election coverage as well) passed in Parliament next week.
    Keep on rolling PL.

  2. JM says:

    I agree that the ISG is not likely to offer up anything other than platitudes…
    But I am deeply interested in seeing a reasoned debate about what can or should be done re Iraq.
    I’ve read a good piece recently, called “The Way out of War,” that offers up a fairly detailed set of suggestions for “what to do now.” My conservative friends have dismissed the piece out of hand, given the primary author (G. McGovern).
    So, can we get some inputs, either from Col. Lang or the Usual Suspects who post comments here, on a way out of this situation?

  3. Don S. says:

    Col. Lang
    Boy you people are pretty gloomy after a couple of days of changes that seem to show that the American people are starting to “get it”.
    Now that both houses are both Democrat, and the election results are in, neither the American people or the main stream media will be scared to criticize the Presidents agenda.
    Pelosi talks about getting the facts. Bush and Cheney will now have a full time battle on their hands with inquires. From now on every thing the Pres. does and says will be assumed to be out of touch or untrue. The mainstream media will be merciless, it’s pay back time for them.
    As for change of direction in Iraq, the army is a big machine, as is government, and neither turns on a dime. But my guess is this is a sea change. The US now is all about getting out.
    The immense giant is slowly turning around, he has been pricked by a thousands of tiny arrows. As he looks to the horizon, he is wondering if the way back will be a lot harder than the way he came.
    In Canada we are going to have our own little session of reality check. We are now in Afganistan in what the Canadian public thought would be reconstruction, but it has changed to a nasty little war, and looks to be getting worse.

  4. John Howley says:

    I have resisted getting cable. My lousy television reception makes it harder for me to mistake what I see on the snowy screen for reality. I recommend it to others.
    Why aren’t those who opposed the invasion being lauded as experts now? In the case of the Enron collapse, the naysayers were ignored on the way up, but afterwards, those (few) business experts who had questioned the Enron propaganda were rightly saluted for their insights.
    There were plenty of folks who predicted more or less exactly what has happened. in Iraq…easy to get in, hard to get out and so on. But, we still don’t hear much from these people in the “official” media.
    To that extent, we are still set up for failure. Democracy produces better decisions because more voices are included. Our policy discussions remain narrow and exclusive. So long as this obtains, there is no reason to expect better decisions.

  5. zanzibar says:

    Gates Crasher
    As will soon be apparent, the Iraq Survey Group, of which Mr. Gates is a member and to which I’m an adviser, has not discovered any way for the U.S. to exit Iraq — except under catastrophic conditions. Its recommendations will probably be the least helpful of all the blue-ribbon commissions in Washington since World War II because it cannot escape from an unavoidable reality: We either declare defeat and withdraw completely tout de suite, or we surge troops into Baghdad and fight. The ISG will surely try to find some middle ground between these positions, which, of course, doesn’t exist.

  6. arbogast says:

    I think this bears on whether there will be change. Will someone explain it to me?
    Bolton’s recess appointment is set to expire at the end of December, when the current Congress goes out of session. With only a few months remaining, the White House tried again to get Bolton confirmed during the summer. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee came to the administration’s aid, lobbying heavily for Bolton’s nomination. It persuaded several Democrats to support Bolton but the nomination was snagged by Chafee.

  7. chimneyswift says:

    Put me in with John Howley, only mark me as a bit more cynical.
    Of course the cable “news” channels won’t bring out the skeptics from before the war! They were hardly ever allowed a voice in the first place.
    This country is still a democracy- Tuesday proved that. But the Mil-Indust Complex still wields immense power, especially within the mass media.
    My thoughts on this over-arching subject are a bit too voluminous to put down here, but basically I figure that too many core assumptions of the national dialogue (which are false but which back up the ruling order) would be exposed by allowing real opposition voices on the television.
    What are these core assumptions? How about the lack of a reasonable alternative to militarism. Another would be the inability of people in other parts of the world to manage their own affairs, or that we are a benevolent actor on the world stage.
    Challenging these assumptions goes against the interest of every Fortune 500 CEO, and people in the news media know this. They also know they depend on the Fortune 500 for their carreers.

  8. chimneyswift says:

    And just to be clear, it’s not that we can not or are not benevolent actors on the world stage- it’s that when you disallow real questions regarding that you remove a powerful incentive for keeping us honest.
    The cable news channels are very good at not keeping us honest.

  9. blowback says:

    The problem with implementing any radical change in the Middle Eastern policy is not the President but the Vice-president. With Cheney out of the way, the Decider could radically change direction.
    Now that Rumsfeld has ruled himself out as a scapegoat, that leaves just Bush and Cheney in the frame and Bush 1 is not going to allow his son to take the fall. Since Cheney won’t jump, he will have to be pushed and I am sure there is enough evidence to fit Cheney up for the Plame outing particularly if Libby is offered a deal. Rove is almost part of the Bush family so he should be willing to talk as well.
    Cheney being dumped will also allow the Republicans to bring in a suitable candidate for the next presidential election – Cheney is probably unelectable even if he is prepared to stand which I don’t think he is.
    Once Cheney is gone will the Decider change the policy – if he wants to protect what is left of his political legacy he will. Don’t forget that he can’t stand for re-election so he has nothing to lose.

  10. Arun says:

    In today’s NYT, “Paul D. Eaton, a retired Army major general, was in charge of training the Iraqi military from 2003 to 2004” writes:
    “It is also vital to reinvigorate the military leadership. First, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Peter Pace, must begin to act in the role prescribed by the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986. This requires the senior man in uniform to have direct access to the president, a role denied to him and his predecessor, Gen. Richard Myers, by Mr. Rumsfeld. ”
    This puzzled me. The SecDef not inviting the Joint Chiefs of Staff to various meetings is one thing, but can’t the JCS simply pick up the phone and ask to speak to the President, and won’t he get through? It has to be the President saying, don’t talk to me, talk to Rumsfeld, if the above has any substance.

  11. Les Izmore says:

    Great points about the media and our political leadership, both parties. It seems the bull in the china shop has knocked most of the dishes off the shelves on to the floor and is busy trampling them. The ‘wise men’, both parties, offer us just two choices, send another bull into the shop or get the bull out the door and let the shopkeeper clean up. Maybe we’ll toss a few coins on the floor to assuage our guilt on the way out. Bush, Perle, Wolfowitz, Cheney and the rest should get a Hummer ride to Sadr City and a map to the Green Zone. Drop them off on a busy corner and a give them a jaunty wave goodbye. Their enablers, those Democrats and Republicans who now parrot the ‘no one could have forseen this tragic turn of events’ lie, share their guilt. Unfortunately none will end up accepting their responsibility for the deaths of tens of thousands of innocents. Then again have they ever?

  12. tony says:

    Colonel Lang,
    your blog is the best one by far, and the commentators are superb, I like todays entries especially John Howley’s. As far as mass hysteria in media is concerned it is not new, it is a part of american culture – otherwise known as “hoolabaloo” –
    I agree with the observation that ‘talking heads’ push the mantra ‘nobody could predict’ – as if people like Gen. Shinseki have not spoken out.. The hiding of the culprits is awful to watch.

  13. Will says:

    I’ve had a change of heart in these Mid-East matters. There is not going to be any breakthroughs until the next Gore or Clinton presidency. Then Bill will be able to resume the job he was completing until the bumbler Dumbya had his eight year run.
    Here are the salient facts.
    1. There are 30 congressman and 13 Senators who are Jewish.
    2. America Jewry are 25-30% of U.S.’s wealthiest families (citing Forbes) and wield their wealth effectively. As an example(citing Richard Cohen in the Washington Post) — supplying 60% and 35% of the total contributions respectively of the American Democratic and Republican political parties.
    Clinton can appeal to everybody’s best nature and can lead whereas Bush2 (the Dumbya version) is a panderer and appealed to man’s baser jingoistic nature.
    The most we can hope in the remaining time is no new war with Iran and minimizing Irak casualties.
    Peace does not run from Baghdad to Jerusalem. It runs from Jerusalem to Baghdad. And only Bill Clinton or the equivalent can deliver that.
    I liked the previous poster’s idea about dropping Dumbya in the Red Zone, prefferably with Deadeye Dick, and giving them a sporting chance to get to the Green Zone
    Good Night

  14. anna missed says:

    The U.S should publically absolve itself from all “economic interests” in Iraq — no oil PSA sweetheart deals, no privitization of the Iraqi economy, no micromanagement of the Iraqi economy or the previously nationalized assets or industry. The U.S. should also absolve itself of the mega-embassy and the so called “enduring” military bases. The U.S. should rapidly re-arm the Iraqi military with heavy weaponary and give the elected government the authority to use it. The democrats should restrict and de-fund any U.S. money used to support any of the above, and or redirect such money to Iraqi reconstruction, allocated by the elected government, regulated only by transparent distribution and accounting through media/public oversight. By eliminating the alterior motives of the U.S. Iraq will be allowed to reach its own equillibrium with the least amount of friction.

  15. Nand Jagnath says:

    This month’s issue of the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine has an interesting article by Lord David Owen, a neurologist as well as politician, that is titled “Hubris and Nemesis in Heads of Government”. The article takes a good, hard look at the mental make-up of George Bush and his good pal “Yo Blair”.
    The article is freely acessible:
    — Nand

  16. Matthew says:

    How appropriate that this debacle is occuring during the 50th anniversary of the Suez “crisis,” i.e, the illegal Anglo-French-Israeli aggression against Egypt.
    Col. Lang: What is your reaction to Egypt going to Russia and China in order to restart its nuclear program?

  17. confusedponderer says:

    with Cheney out of the way the decider would change direction? I think you ‘misunderestimate’ Bush Jr. He is certainly not a rocket scientist, but I think you err when you think he’s just wax in the hands of persuasive masterminds like Cheney. Point is that he IMO is inclined to prefer Cheney’s hard line, as it appeals to his instincts. That is to say, when he sais he is the decider he means just that. There is a limit to persuasive influence on Bush I presume.
    Then it’s a question if Baker really works for Jr. There still is the remote possibility that Baker works for daddy and has the son by the balls, and drags him kicking and screaming back into the real world, only allowing to save face in public, but I doubt it. It’s rather that Baker is tasked with covering up Jr’s worst failures and angage in damage control for the GOP establishment. But that said, Bush Jr. is still who he is: The decider who decides.
    I’m happy that Bolton’s tenure at the UN is over. Bolton is brilliant tactically, legally. Razor sharp, great work ethos. The guy I would hire for a lawsuit, if I could afford him. Strategically, improving US diplomatic leverage, he has utterly failed.
    To say that he is universally detested at the UN is putting it mild. Usually the only allies he could count on were Palau, the Marshall Islands (argumentum fiscalis) and Israel. He never saw himself as a diplomat, but rather as America’s whip at the UN, and made sure that was understood. That couldn’t work. Arrogant people lacking charm have a hard time even when they are brilliant. There is a point when you have insulted so many people that they collectively become irreconcilable, no matter how professional and appreciative of your qualities. You generate resistance. I’m still unsure wether Bolton was at the UN to simply provoke failure.
    In any case, IMO his problem was that he could live his views at the UN. A lawyer making his own case has a fool for a client. That was certainly the case with Bolton. He was overenthusiastic. Well, he wasn’t the only smart guy at the UN.
    The ideological policies of the Bush administration Bolton was tasked to push through were so radical and out of sync with the rest of the world that not even Archangel Gabriel could have sold them to the rest of the world. The problem for his replacement will be that he still has to sell Bush Jr’s policies.
    To make it worse: A western diplomat is said to have said that he could live with whatever position the US had, if they could only limit themselves to one. He had a point. Ever since Bush took office there has an ideologue’s and realist’s position. The policy was not only overtly agressive and radical, it was also incoherent. My message to his successor: Good luck, you’ll need it. It’s hard to sell shit.
    Bush’s ideological policies can’t be sold better with ‘applied realism’ – that is – diplomacy. The ‘Rest of World’ isn’t daft. That’s why both Rice and Powell ultimately failed: It’s the essence of Bush’s policies that’s rejected. The Bushies fell for the business fallacy that brilliant marketing can make up for a crappy product (besides: in this case we had a crappy product and preposterous marketing).
    That goes well beyond Bolton: There is a lot broken porcellaine now, and the US will have a hard time to *earn back* squandered trust. Dem controll of Congress and the ISG are nice and well, but what will count are US actions.
    What now? It certainly means Bolton will corrode the (international) legal order somewhere else. He is radioactive now. That means he’s out of direct govt service, if not Cheney hires him back to work for his office. However, I rather think he’ll end up working for the GOP. An undeniably competent lawyer in a twisted sort of way, he will sure find another occupation – like messing up a vote recount somewhere in the US.

  18. Charlie Green says:

    Whenever W praises someone (“Heck of a job”, “I support our troops”, etc.), that is a deathknell (warning shot?) for them. He praised Cheney and Rumsfeld just before Rummy got rushed off stage.
    I couldn’t figure out how it was gonna happen to Cheney but this thread cleared that up.
    “Heck of a job, Dick.”

  19. Got A Watch says:

    “We either declare defeat and withdraw completely tout de suite, or we surge troops into Baghdad and fight.”
    Indeed. Do you think Americans want to see anther 3-500,000 troops go to Iraq? Whoa, shades of Vietnam redux!
    Exactly where would those troops come from? Here is a hint, from AP today-
    “The Pentagon is developing plans that for the first time would send entire National Guard combat brigades back to Iraq for a second tour, the Guard’s top general said in the latest sign of how thinly stretched the military has become.Smaller units and individual troops from the Guard have already returned to Iraq for longer periods, and some active duty units have served multiple tours.”
    The National Guard would be asked to do the heavy lifting to “stabilise” Iraq?
    Or maybe the Iraqi Police could do it, except (from Juan Cole):
    “If 20% of Iraqi police recruits quit every year and 40% don’t show up to work, that leaves only 40% at their precinct houses or on the streets. If they supposedly have 177,000 trained police, they actually only have 70,000 or so. As for that “trained” part, I wouldn’t exactly take it to the bank.”
    I think we are back to the phantom UN divisions scenario. It’s like deja vu all over again. Will the last American out of Iraq please lock the gates of the Dream Zone behind them?

  20. Got A Watch says:

    “The U.S. should rapidly re-arm the Iraqi military with heavy weaponary and give the elected government the authority to use it”
    Really, Anna? Their first probable order of business, being Shiite, would be to slaughter the Sunni’s, drawing in surrounding countries on both sides and creating a wider religious war throughout the whole region. Better re-think that one.
    “Iraq will be allowed to reach its own equillibrium with the least amount of friction.” That resulting level would probably when no two bricks remain standing together, and most of the population are dead.
    It sounds good in theory, but would be really bloody with casualties in the millions. Seems to be the trajectory Iraq is on now, only in slow motion.

  21. confusedponderer says:

    PS: As for … “It’s the essence of Bush’s policies that’s rejected.”
    Bush’s unitary executive, huh, foreign policy means in fact asking states to, right now, surrender themselves to US benevolent hegemony, while exempting the US from all the rules that apply for the rest of the world.
    Would any of those present buy a product like that? (suggested compromise: When becoming US subjects, would the Europeans get voting rights in US elections? Maybe we can cut a deal …)
    The Bushies assumed that the undeniable US lead in military technology and power would give them an equivalent political leverage, allowing them to impose their schemes on the world uncontested. That’s the premier folly of the neo-con ‘Great Strategy’.
    Had they only wanted, the US could today be allied with Iran. The neo-cons were incapable of that. It *had to be* regime change. Well, peace you have to make with an enemy. But the neo-cons accept nothing short of ‘Siegfrieden’, or ‘Endsieg’?
    That was rejected by America’s allies because it is (obviously) inherently destabilising, escalative and destructive. Iraq and Israel’s and the US’ position in the Middle East only underline the correctness of this prediction.
    Of course, there still is the element of America’s self perception and sense of mission. What is America’s role in the world? Top dog? Lone wolf? Leader of the pack? When Madeleine Albright called the US ‘the indispensable nation’ it was not so much a statement of the obvious, but a reminder. It should be overly clear today that the world has soundly rejected Bush’s (emphasis on *Bush’s*) unilateralism. So that’s a dead end (but as we have seen in Iraq, ‘dead-enders’ are surprisingly persistent).
    The US are at a jucture. They have to get clear about where to head. That is a point the ISG will not adress, and I doubt the Dems will be able to articulate it soon. The consequence is that for the near future we will live with the incoherence of a simultaneous ideological and realism approaches to the world, to the detriment of US interests.
    When I read all the US armed forces and think tank babble about domination of land, air and space I feel that there are a couple of folks who urgently need to take a deep breath. Pre-emption, dominance are all in nature offensive. I’m all for putting ‘defense’ back into the Defense Department. Defense is the stronger form of warefare. Being on the offensive merely feels better among the hotheads.

  22. MarcLord says:

    Nand Jagnath,
    Maybe Blair is back on meds:
    “Blair to speak to US committee on Iraq:”

  23. Soonmyung Hong says:

    I don’t think Baker is loyal to Bush41 or Bush43. He is a highly self-respecting guy. I can’t imagine Jim Baker as other guy’s servant. Maybe he has some motivation like rescue “his own” party or “his friend’s stupid son”. Anyway that’s “his” agenda, “his” priority, “his” plan, not for others.
    By my own observation, Baker did not hesitate to initiate calls on that line. In private, Baker did not treat Bush with all the deference a Secretary of State usually accords a President. Baker thought that he had made Bush the President, through Baker’s political maneuvering.
    Baker also sometimes doubted Bush’s skills. At a NATO summit in London early in the administration, Baker had stunned me by coming to sit next to me in an auditorium, as I listened to President Bush’s press conference. As Bush batted the reporter’s questions, the Secretary of State provided me with a personal color commentary whispering in my ear: “Damn he flubbed that answer … I told him how to handle that one… Oh, no, he’ll never know how to deal with that…” I was one of Baker’s Assistant Secretaries, but I could not understand why he would go out of his way to disdain the President to an audience of one, me. Over time I came to understand that Baker often doubted the President’s judgment. Baker would never have gone to war in the Gulf and made that clear at several points in the months after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. The two friends and rivals did, together, demonstrate how an international coalition should be built and how America can get done what it needs without creating self-inflicted wounds.

    (Clarke, Richard A., Against All Enermies -Inside the White House’s War-, Free Press, 2004)

  24. McGee says:

    I just want to add my kudos to the Colonel and his Guests for the informed and thoughtful opinions expressed in this and the last few threads. Wish I had something to add – damned if I know how we dig our way out of the deep, deep hole that we’ve so artfully dug. Ask for a Mulligan?

  25. anna missed says:

    Got A Watch
    I was only suggesting a cure in the broadest of terms (implementing such terms is another matter). The U.S. strategy in Iraq (and many other places) has been one of divide and conquer — run amok, in that the strategy has divided the people down to the sectarian level and beyond. The entire post invasion scrabble are the results of the CPA slice and dice policies that have eliminated all vestages of nationalism (socially,economically & politically), in the effort to turn Iraq into a U.S. client state. My suggestions aim at restoring nationalism through U.S. divestment and reconstruction of the socialist political structure as the primary means to reconcile and trump sectarian fragmentation. If only at least such a policy of U.S. absolvment would be seen as a good faith effort at reconcilliation, minus the central irritant of “U.S.interests”.

  26. FB says:

    No meaningful solution to the Iraq quagmire can be found until Bush-Cheney give up their present fantasy goals (a friendly national govt which uses a national army and a national police to run the country and suppress or contain the insurgency) for realistic ones. To find out what these could be, they have to negotiate with Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, and pay the price necessary for them to stabilize Iraq.
    That solution is likely to be a Shiastan under Iranian oversight, a Kurdistan acceptable to Turkey and Iran, and a Sunnistan pacified by Saudi money and Syrian muscle (possibly under a cosmetic confederal structure). That will enable the US to pull its troops out, leaving a small number in Kurdistan and Kuwait. Other consolation prizes : some influence with Kurdistan, some stake in Kurd oil. The price : bigtime influence in the ME for Iran, and a Syrian comeback; guarantees of non-aggression to them.
    Baker may recommend talking to Iran and Syria, and Bush may even agree, but unless he is prepared to modify his goals to something realistic this will go nowhere.
    Will he? Don’t hold your breath! What is likely is an increase in troops in Iraq, as, with Rumsfeld gone, the top generals stop quaking and pass on what their underlings have been screaming for a long time. When that fails to improve the situation, it would not surprise me if the US supported a would-be strongman (my money is on Muwaffaq al-Rubaie) to take over (the neocons may have been routed in Washington but one of these wackos is sitting in the Baghdad embassy). When that fails, sit back and watch the whole thing go down the chute.

  27. confusedponderer says:

    Soonmyung Hong,
    you are probably right: A guy of Baker’s seniority doesn’t work for anybody.
    Impressive guy. I have great respect for Bush Sr. and Baker due to their performance when ending the Cold War peacefully. That doesn’t mean they are saints. They are ruthless. But they are firmly moored in reality.
    But as for Jr. … geez … and no respect whatsoever. Sadly Baker having success in fixing Bush’s mess will undeservedly benefit Bush. But then this is about the nation, not about the man.

  28. Walrus says:

    With the greatest respect, I’m still concerned that people aren’t seeing the forest but the trees, except for Arbogast and Will.
    There is an unholy alliance between Israel and the American military industrial complex and their armies of lobbyists and think tanks.
    Declaring that America is “under threat” and finding a group that can be demonised as an enemy is an old tactic to avoid facing new realities and postponing social change. This is exactly what the military industrial complex want to do since they are threatened by the possibility of winding down Americas armed forces after the end of the cold war and the potential for massive social change as a result.
    Israel of course is surprised and delighted that we conveniently decided to demonise her own sworn enemies.
    Their lovechild is the “Project for a New American Century”. It provided a rationale for keeping America’s armed forces at current or increased levels indefinitely.
    This type of tactic has been used by ruling elites at least four times this century, excluding the current attempt.
    Kaiser Wilhelm II declared that decadent western powers (France, Britain, America, you name it) were denying Germany’s rightful status as a “great power”, and embarked on a military program to back this up, conveniently maintaining his military power base among the Junkers and the army and effectively co-opting the ordinary, deeply patriotic, people into abandoning their fifty years of pressure for democratic reforms in favour of militarism. Look what happened to him.
    Hitler demonised the Jews, Communists and slavs, declaring that Germany was under threat in 1932, soldifying the Nazis grip on power and justifying both total political repression and a military build up.
    Stalin, watching on the sidelines, staged the assassination of Kirov the following year, and used it as justification for the purges that cemented his total grip on power.
    Kim Jong Il is still doing it today in North Korea.
    Here is a hint. Try and find out where the word “Homeland” came from in American political discourse.
    President Bush first used it in a security context “protecting our homeland” on Sept 20th 2001.
    But guess where the word was first used and why?
    It first appeared in the Project for a New American Century paper “Rebuilding America’s Defences”
    As if someone had done a simple find and replace operation and replaced the words “United States” with “Homeland”.
    None of their previous publications used the word Homeland as far as I can tell.
    Peggy Noonan thought that it was “creepily teutonic” in a column 14 July 2002.
    Now why would anyone use the word “Homeland” instead of America? The answer is because it is a highly emotive word, and “Fatherland” and “Motherland” had already been taken by you know who.
    Iraq is a sideshow. We are being railroaded by the current elites who are threatened by the possibility of peace and disarmament.
    God forbid that Americans should decide to live with a smaller army, fix a corrupt political system that gives all power to the rich, and then start creating a fairer more decent society.

  29. W. Patrick Lang says:

    It seems that you did not listen to his majesty’s radio address today. He is still saying that “Iraq is the central battlefield in the war on terror”
    I have no doubt that the ISG/Poppy crowd intend to pressure junior into a change in policy in Iraq.
    Let us wait and see if they succeed. pl

  30. Byron Raum says:

    No surprise at all that we chose Israel’s enemies as our own enemies. It’s not a conspiracy at all; rather, what has happened is that America has ceded comprehension of the Middle East to Israel. Instead of taking the trouble to sort these issues out for ourselves, we accept the Israelis as the absolute authority on how Arabs think. This is why Israel’s definition of evil is our definition of evil, no matter what Israel or anyone else does. As long as this persists, we will have many enemies in the Middle East, and very few friends, all false.

  31. different clue says:

    Efforts by us commenters and others to determine who
    Gates will work for, and who
    the ISG really works for, and what it all means; remind me of Kremlinologists
    reading signs and signals from Soviet photographs, speeches, Soviet Party Congress seating charts, and
    the like; in order to determine who had what power, what connections, what goals. An example of
    such Kremlinology right now
    today is this post from BagNews Notes:
    I think ISG hopes Gates will be Junior’s Thinking-Brain Dog, and will help bring Junior to heel. But
    Junior is willful and headstrong, so perhaps Gates’s CIA background shows
    a willingness to use quietly
    extreme blackmail against Junior to make him behave.
    Its all just kremlinology.
    More kremlinology: look at
    what ISG will NOT suggest giving up in order to see
    whose interests ISG was convened to serve and to save. I suspect ISG will
    try to figure out how to save and preserve the sweetheart-deal Production
    Sharing Agreements for American oil companies over
    Iraqi oilfields. That would
    show who ISG is working for.
    That’s just my uninformed
    civilian opinion, to be sure.

  32. confusedponderer says:

    you are correct, especially about PNAC and Israel. They are firmly linked. There are others, like the UK.
    UK’s Royal Ordnance now also has a stake in US military procurement policy. Israel’s IMI is selling a good deal of their hardware to the US. That are the rare cases when ‘not invented here’ is not a procurement obstacle in the US. For all of them war is good business. PNACs ‘statement of principles’ laid the groundwork for a foreign policy that would be good business, if you’re into building arms and high-tech.
    PNAC’s method isn’t new. It’s probably much older than the Team B effort to protray the Russians as 3 metres tall, or their hysteria under Reagan. Ray McGovern wrote sarcastically about Gates performance in the 1980s:
    “I was amused to read this morning in David Ignatius’ column in the Washington Post that Gates “was the brightest Soviet analyst in the [CIA] shop, so Casey soon appointed him deputy director overseeing his fellow analysts.” He wasn’t; and Casey had something other than expertise in mind. Talk to anyone who was there at the time – except the sycophants Gates co-opted to do his bidding – and they will explain that Gates’ meteoric career had most to do with his uncanny ability to see a Russian under every rock turned over by Casey. Those of Gates’ subordinates willing to see two Russians became branch chiefs; three won you a division. I exaggerate only a little.”
    You want a policy everyone at his senses would refuse outright, so you cook up a picture that would support what you want to do anyway, and try to sell it to the daft as ‘über-top secret-super-special-intel’. It’s lying with a capital ‘L’.
    I read recently, that to justify the Iran dealings during Iran-Contra, Gates then helped cook the Iranian inelligence and produced an NIE that said Iran had abandoned terrorism and became nice again – thus dealing with them did no harm 🙂 It’s that easy.
    The politisation of intelligence we could witness in the advent of the invasion of Iraq was and is SOP for these people, and IMO that’s unlikely to change under either Negroponte, Gates, Hayden or Goss. For the seniors in the Bush crew that’s the reflex of political control over the executive. Well political control over facts yet has to be established. They try by spinning.
    The Team B actors – and that was before Israel really came to be seen as a US ally rather than a crypto-commie nuisance. Sometime in the 1980s the Israelis managed to persuade the Team B folks that they are an asset, and they became friends. They helped in the Iran-Contra dealings, and I don’t think that was an accident.
    I think Israeli aid in fighting terrorists also helped persuade the rest of the world that they are good, unlike the palestinians who indiscriminately butchered civilians for a political statement. That was good PR. Israel in the US made one of the most outstanding public diplomacy efforts ever since the British talked the US into preferring them over the Germans in WW-I.
    To complicate things, they established an old buddy network spanning over both parties, and that’s established for decades. It isn’t going to go away soon.

  33. blowback says:

    If the ISG is already at the stage of “either declare defeat and withdraw completely tout de suite, or we surge troops into Baghdad and fight.”, then that effort is well and truly shafted. They have already precluded diplomacy in favor of unilateralism and that is very scary.Have they learnt nothing from the Cold War or the failure of Israeli unilateralism over the past few years?
    I wonder how much of the media interest in the ISG/SecDef issue is generated within the Vice-president’s office. An effort like the ISG normally works best if it takes place outside the glare of publicity. If you want the disrupt the ISG’s efforts, the best thing to do is to subject it to the full glare of the media spotlight.

  34. Otto says:

    The fact is the Washington policy establishment of the left and right doesn’t know what to do about Iraq. All the options are bad ones. The ISG is going to produce some kind of consensus view which avoids the really hard questions because basically they can’t agree on anything else. Baker’s motives I’m convinced are to find some fig leaf to cover Bush’s and the Republican party’s culpability for this fiasco. As has been frequently suggested, there are only two ways out of this morass. A huge new committment of time (10 years), treasure (three trillion bucks), and troops (at least 150,000 more) to stabilize the situation and perhaps, and it’s a big perhaps since this represents a huge new gamble, produce some sort of still unified and stable Iraq. The other option is withdrawal. It is probable that the political will to make the required investment does not exist. Ergo.

  35. Soonmyung Hong says:

    “we’re another one of the tribes.” -PL, MEPC Symposium
    I believe U.S. have far greater interest in Iraq than Afghanistan.
    If you predict U.S. will be there for a long time and so become one of afghan tribes effectively, she might become one of iraqi tribes, too. right?
    Barry Posen suggest his new iraq policy.
    It seems to me ‘become another one of the tribes’ idea.
    Altough U.S. have very strong (conventional) military power, she is too incompetent to understand political, cultural background or consequence. So how can she overcome her weaknesses?

  36. Byron Raum says:

    It occurs to me that everyone who is proposing a solution – or not proposing a solution because it is too hard – is making one assumption: that it is necessary to come up with a disengagement plan and a plan for the future of Iraq for all time. Agreed that it is a lack of such planning that got us into this mess in the first place. But under the current circumstances, how about starting work on the smaller problems first? Running water..electricity..It might be better to try a bottom-up approach and get SOMETHING out there that’s better than what we have today. Progress that is incremental is still progress.

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