Hello Darkness My Old Friend, Pt. IV: Cheney Vs. The Iraq Study Group
Much as it may amaze, there's a place in the Blogsophere where I'm considered a cock-eyed optimist--retract your dropped jaw please. There are quite a few places, really, but the one I'm referring to is frequented by people who are still apparently quite sane: the highly professional and no-nonsense Sic Semper Tyrannis. It is run by Pat Lang, an expert on the Mid-east who had a long career in service and the business, and he has built probably the largest-caliber community for open-source military intelligence analysis on the net. The level of historical and current knowledge there can even be intimidating. Generally, the dominant opinion is that the Bush Mis-administration can't be dissuaded from staying the course, and that Jim Baker's Iraq Study Group is an exercise in futility. I don't see it that way, and below is an exchange with a sharp regular over in the comments section who goes by the handle of "Got A Watch:"
"It takes a special kind of stupidity to be GWB. You have to go above and beyond the single digit IQ to reach this state. So any who think the situation in Iraq will be resolved by this Administration need a hard reality check. The ISG Report will be worthless before it comes out of the printer."
Baker is great with the angles, and he's not the Bush Family Fixer for nothing. He is, amongst many other under-appreciated things, the man who negotiated the October Surprise with Iran, and who got the Supreme Court to name Dubya "Preznit." I'm no fan of his morals. I am a fan of his ability as a back-door operator and negotiator because he is extremely good at what he does. When the shit hits the fan for the Bush family, for the Carlyle Group, for governments and for oil companies, he has a long record of fixing it. He's the equivalent of Pulp Fiction's "Wolf," as I posted on a while back. I never thought he would be on my side, but this time he's gunning to knock out Dick Cheney, and he already got Rumsfeld. Stopping the bleeding is probably his most challenging assignment yet, but if anybody can handle Cheney, Bush, Iran, and the Mid-east, he can. He's done it before.
Got A Watch @10AM:
If you're negotiating for an incompetent, it's your job to use their incompetence to advantage in facilitating a deal which makes them look and feel good. You use the areas they don't care about, or don't see, as leverage to achieve that objective, and the more bone-headed they are, the more they tend to miss. While the missed areas may be extremely important to others (let's say they're oil leases and development rights or domestic political concerns), to Bush they would be mere casualties in the greater cause of his ego fulfillment, of as little importance as lives and limbs lost by young volunteeers and older reservists.
Bush has his Destiny, and he will not deviate from it. For him to approve anything, he must be shown a quicker, preferably easier way to fulfill it, and Baker is keenly aware of that. He's not butting heads with Dubya, nor will he need to. Cheney, for example, has used Bush's divinely confident incompetence to his own advantage--to attempt to directly seize the world's greatest known oil reserves from the inside out.
The ISG plan isn't worthless. It was carefully set up to carry congressional imprimatur and to be bipartisan. The ISG's immediate aim, already half-met with the departure of Rumsfeld, is to neutralize or eliminate Cheney. That's where the head-butting is happening.
If James Baker (whose clients in this matter are the Bush Family, The Carlyle Group, The United States Establishment, and Big Oil), cannot neutralize Cheney, it means he probably cannot convince Bush to facilitate peace in the Mid-East or Christ's reign on earth through more reliance on diplomacy. If Cheney is removed as an obstacle, the true objective is much easier to realize.
So if Baker's first efforts to drive for a diplomatic solution fail, which they will, he has still successfully laid the groundwork for them abroad. Domestically, he can then go back to the impetus for the ISG and recommend a course of action to remove the necessary political roadblocks. Cheney correctly perceives himself as Baker's target; he even predicted that when and if his critics came after him, they would take Rumsfeld out first.
If I were Baker, I would make it look like it came from the Democrats.