04 December 2006

Dumb Looks time on James Baker

When so many wish to castigate John F. Kerry on 'nuance', they often forget how their side of the fence has its own 'nuance'-o-philes, like John McCain. Yes, there are those on the Right/Conservative side of things, as they draw those lines, that also do this flip-floppery, back-and-forthism. They are called 'Realists' or practitioners of 'Realpolitik' or 'Global Geostrategic Diplomacy' or whatever the phrase du jour is. And they are absolutely rudderless in the sea of troubles about Us as a Nation. The Unreal 'Realists', and James A. Baker III gets a bit of 'then and now' treatment as turnabout is fair play.

So lets start with a lovely article in Middle East Quarterly, SEP 1994, Vol.I: Number 3. The man of the day, James Baker III THEN [all bolding mine, of course]:

Iran, Yemen, Saudi Arabia

Obviously, the idea of reaching out to moderates in Iran was a nonstarter. On the other hand, for the full four years that I was there [at the Department of State], we were quite prepared to sit down at an official level with the government of Iran--there's no surprise about that--provided they understood the first topic on the agenda would be their support for state-sponsored terrorism. We were unwilling during our four years to have any of this back-channeling stuff. So, those are two different situations.

Today you've got Islamic fundamentalists in Yemen. I went to Sanaa to try and get them to support the [anti-Iraq] coalition. I got turned down pretty summarily (and the Saudis had told me we were going to get turned down). But that doesn't mean you don't go there and try and bring them aboard.

Saudi Arabia is the most -- I mean, custodian to the holy mosque, all of that, but clearly we've got -- So, those are my views.

Saudi Arabia is the most Muslim of states--I mean, it's custodian of the Holy Mosque, and so forth--but clearly even it has problems with the radical fundamentalists.
Wait a second, what was that about Iran? And today? From the ever irresponsible NY Times, 29 NOV 2006 article by David E. Sanger and David S. Cloud, that gives us this from what they see as the Iraqi Study Group position on Iraq:
As described by the people involved in the deliberations, the bulk of the report by the Baker-Hamilton group focused on a recommendation that the United States devise a far more aggressive diplomatic initiative in the Middle East than Mr. Bush has been willing to try so far, including direct engagement with Iran and Syria. Initially, those contacts might be part of a regional conference on Iraq or broader Middle East peace issues, like the Israeli-Palestinian situation, but they would ultimately involve direct, high-level talks with Tehran and Damascus.
So, do we get to talk about terrorism BEFORE that, Mr. Baker? How about it, Mr. Baker, has Iran turned to all sweetness and light and caring and fluffy bunnies now? Not a single bit of support for Hezbollah in Lebanon or South America or the Mehdi Army in Iraq, right? No?

And what was his view in 1994 with regards to Syria and the Palestinians? Lets take a look:
An Independent Palestinian State?

You find clear differences of position and view on the question of an independent Palestinian state. When this was the joint position of the Arab states in negotiations, they all were for it. But as unity disappeared in their pursuit of the peace process, you'll find each country looks at a Palestinian state from the standpoint of its own particular circumstances. Jordan looks at it differently, for instance, than Syria. Syria now looks at it quite differently in the aftermath of "Gaza-Jericho First," because that frees Syria to cut a deal without regard to what it might mean vis-...-vis the Palestinians. Indeed, all the Arab states, Jordan and the others, are now free as a consequence of Gaza-Jericho First. Attitudes and positions are in flux right now.
Yes, the flux has struck! And how about those lovely Syrians? Have they gotten a peace deal all worked out with Israel due to this 'flux'? Or have they, instead, moved to further destabilize the region, starting with Lebanon and Iraq? From the Wall Street Jouranl OpinionJournal page, Wednesday, November 22, 2006 :
Former Secretary of State James Baker has been saying that, when it comes to diplomacy, you don't "restrict your conversations to your friends"--shorthand for the view that the U.S. should engage Syria and Iran to find solutions in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. But yesterday's murder of Lebanese Minister Pierre Gemayel might remind even Mr. Baker and his Iraq Study Group what some of those non-friends are all about.

"The hand of Syria is all over" Gemayel's assassination, said Saad Hariri, the leader of the parliamentary bloc that helped evict the Syrian army in the spring of 2005. Mr. Hariri knows whereof he speaks: His father, former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, was blown up with 22 others in February 2005, and the preliminary U.N. investigation offered a trail of evidence pointing to Damascus as the culprit.

A who's who of anti-Syrian Lebanese politicians and journalists have also since been targeted for assassination. In June 2005 journalist Samir Kassir was blown up by a car bomb. Three weeks later, politician George Hawi was killed the same way. The following month, Defense Minister Elias Murr narrowly survived a car bombing; Mr. Murr was considered pro-Syrian but claimed he had been threatened by Rustom Ghazali, the longtime chief of Syrian intelligence in Lebanon.

In September 2005, TV anchorwoman May Chidiac lost her left leg and arm in a car-bombing. Three months later, Gibran Tueni, a former publisher and editor of the An-Nahar newspaper, was also killed by a car bomb. He had been calling publicly for Syria's withdrawal from Lebanon for nearly six years and had recently been elected to parliament. Tueni's murder coincided with the release of the interim U.N. report on Hariri's murder.

Curiously, Gemayel was killed just as the U.N. agreed on the composition of an international tribunal to try the case. It is no secret that Syrian President Bashar Assad has been pulling out all the stops to quash the trial. Six pro-Syrian politicians in the Lebanese cabinet recently resigned en masse in an attempt to cripple the government, and Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has been threatening huge demonstrations to bring down the anti-Syrian Prime Minister Fuad Siniora, who is also backed by the U.S. and France. Killing Gemayel removes another obstacle to Syrian dominance in Lebanon.

Which brings us back to Mr. Baker and the rest of the U.S. foreign-policy establishment now urging a new entente with Damascus. It's true that every Administration must deal with the world as it is. But when it comes to Syria, do the sages of the Iraq Study Group really want the Bush Administration to seek the benediction of a country that stirs such mayhem in Beirut?

Dear, me! Why, Mr. Baker supporting Syria after it has been implicated in the assassination of a Head of State, well, that sounds like *rewarding* aggression. And then to keep on killing your opponents in a Foreign Nation, well that is positively war like and gives rise to Casus Belli. You have, perhaps, heard of that in Diplomatic Circles, Mr. Baker? Casus Belli? Cause for Just War? I mean here is what Mr. Baker said in 1994:

Syria supports terrorism, permits drug trafficking, and much more that we don't like, but there are other very significant differences between it and rogue states like Iran, Iraq, and Libya. Syria is important because there won't be peace between Arabs and Israel until Israel and Syria make peace. There are certain similarities with the rogue states, but in terms of rejecting an Arab-Israeli settlement, Iran is at one extreme, followed by Iraq and then Syria. Real differences exist there. Syria was a member of the coalition that defeated Iraq, an even more rejectionist state.

Also there is a substantial difference in the extent of Syria's rejectionism. Yes, the Syrians engage in rejectionist radical-type behavior such as building up their arsenal, hostile policies toward their neighbors, terrorism, drug trafficking, and so forth, but the scope and nature of it has really not been anything like what we've seen from Iran and Iraq.

What Hafiz al-Asad did in Lebanon did not differ that much from what Saddam did in Kuwait, but he didn't do it in the same way. He did not send the military in there and brutalize the population; and there were Lebanese who wanted Syrian protection and stability. That did not exist in Kuwait. Nor did Asad engage in the abhorrent humanitarian excesses that Saddam did in Kuwait.

By the way, the notion that the U.S. government made a deal with Asad, allowing him to take over Lebanon in October 1990 in return for his joining the coalition against Iraq, is wrong. There were no hints sent to him that he could move in. Rather, a vacuum existed in Lebanon and Asad took advantage of it. We were not going to send forces in there; after all, we'd put forces in Lebanon in whatever year it was [2] and lost 250 Marines [in 1983]. We were not going to peacekeep in Lebanon.
Well Daddy Asad certainly was *different* in his repressive tactics! Instead of being all Saddamist, Daddy Asad, instead, helped form up Hezbollah with the help of Iran in Lebanon in 1982, and then authorized the go-ahead on the three Beirut bombings (two in 1983 and one in 1984) by that group along with Iran, caused the deaths of hundreds, two explosions were on direct US Territory via Extra-Territorial Enclave, then put Hezbollah into position as a minority factional party that was armed. Daddy Asad then ensured that it remained armed and repressive so that it did, indeed, represent his interests in Lebanon. Then he went in to 'save them'. Yes as a 'popular armed political party' Hezbollah serves the direct interests of both Iran and Syria in Lebanon.

Now, that arsenal that is building up is one of North Korean NoDong missiles, Iranian missiles, and all sorts of wonderful things to start putting together a nuclear/chemical weapons industry. By marrying up those two it is putting together a WMD missile delivery capability, first with the old fashioned VX and Sarin nerve gas that it makes via its facility in Homs and al-Safir and now in Palmyra, and it is expanding its nuclear work and was even in 1994. By seeking a Chinese slow-breeder reactor and using a different methodology for refining uranium from uranophosphate, Syria has been working assiduously from Daddy Asad to Baby Asad on that capability.

So, what Mr. Baker is saying that Syria was not the brutal, nasty regime of Saddam's Iraq, although it had killed 10,000 people in one of its villages because they did not like Asad or the Ba'athists, and they did not directly invade Lebanon, but undermined it by supporting a radical Islamic faction and then caused such instability that it used that as an excuse to step in. And all of that makes them 'less extreme' than Iraq under Saddam and Iran. It DOES?

Syria lacks the monetary *means* to be as nasty as Saddam was, but in their own, patient method of alliances and undermining neighbors and supporting terrorism as a filter point for Iran, it is in many ways *worse* than either Saddam's Iraq or Iran. They are corroding the fabric of neighboring Nations so as to expand influence and power. Then they arm what can only be said to be a Foreign Legion in Lebanon to further the Iranian and Syrian desires to hold sway over the entire Middle East. What part of 'hegemony' does this not cover?

How does Mr. Baker feel about that today, as his ISG plan is 100% supported by everyone in the group? Well, this is how he feels:
“I think everyone felt good about where we ended up,” one person involved in the commission’s debates said after the group ended its meeting. “It is neither ‘cut and run’ nor ‘stay the course.’ ”
All warm and fuzzy on coddling terrorists, tyrants, bullies and those seeking local and regional hegemony. Such a sweet fella, donchyaknow? So comfy laying down with those seeking to put an entire section of the planet under their sway! Say it ain't so, Jimmy! Tell me that North Korean supernotes have NOT shown up in the Bekaa and in and around Syria and Lebanon. Tell me that Hezbollah is *not* supported by either Syria or Iran...

Of course Mr. Baker has absolutely NO stake in this, right? Objective, through and through. Well, coming from The Nation, they certainly have some questions on Mr. Baker's views BEFORE the ISG was put into play for this. Coming from The Nation article James Baker's Double Life posted 12 OCT 2004 by Naomi Klein, we get this:
Until now, there has been no concrete evidence that Baker's loyalties are split, or that his power as Special Presidential Envoy--an unpaid position--has been used to benefit any of his corporate clients or employers. But according to documents obtained by The Nation, that is precisely what has happened. Carlyle has sought to secure an extraordinary $1 billion investment from the Kuwaiti government, with Baker's influence as debt envoy being used as a crucial lever.

The secret deal involves a complex transaction to transfer ownership of as much as $57 billion in unpaid Iraqi debts. The debts, now owed to the government of Kuwait, would be assigned to a foundation created and controlled by a consortium in which the key players are the Carlyle Group, the Albright Group (headed by another former Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright) and several other well-connected firms. Under the deal, the government of Kuwait would also give the consortium $2 billion up front to invest in a private equity fund devised by the consortium, with half of it going to Carlyle.
You mean that Mr. Baker actually may have some FINANCIAL STAKE in the outcomes? That all his past wheeling-and-dealing has possibly *influenced* his views? Why it is only a few measly billions of dollars involved, nothing that just might *distort* one's views on things for the private company one is involved with. I mean he wouldn't actually be employed with financial interests in something and *then* be put to work trying to find out ways to guide the Nation there, would he?

Why, the very group he is working with, The Carlyle Group has a JUN 2006 Washintonian article on this:
The conspiracists are right about Carlyle’s employing many out-of-work political celebrities. In addition to former president George H.W. Bush, they have included one-time Secretary of State James Baker, Defense secretary Frank Carlucci, and British prime minister John Major. A common view of the firm is that it has succeeded by practicing what Michael Lewis, in a 1993 New Republic article, called “access capitalism.” In other words, old pols beguile investors into giving Carlyle their cash, then the pols find defense companies for Carlyle to buy on the cheap, then the pols cajole the Pentagon into giving these companies big contracts. Big profits result, and Carlyle and its investors make lots of money.

In the early days, it’s true that Carlucci was critical in identifying defense deals, Bush and Baker opened doors, and Carlyle often promoted the Washington connections as a branding strategy. But today, the politicos are gone—they’re no longer needed. The big names Carlyle has been attracting are former CEOs like Kent Kresa of Northrop Grumman.
Well, I don't hold much to conspiracy theories, but do not like folks with financial and vested interests in an area then trying to guide the Nation in those areas. Yes, I will include the snippet on where James Baker was on 9/11, just so the conspiracy theorists can have their moment of sunshine:
On a crystalline Tuesday morning in September nearly five years ago, the Carlyle Group was holding its annual investor conference at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel on 22nd Street. Former president Bush had spoken at a Carlyle dinner the night before at Union Station, but he’d left. Jim Baker and John Major were still in attendance, as were dozens of wealthy individuals, pension-fund officials,and Carlyle executives, including DBD. Abuzz went through the crowd, television sets came on, and the gathering watched,horrified, as videotape showed—again and again—an airliner crashing into the World Trade Center.

Among the investors at the Ritz that morning was Shafiq bin Laden, one of Osama bin Laden’s many half-brothers. Shafiq was representing his family, which built its wealth in the construction business and disowned Osama in the 1990s. But Shafiq’s presence at the Ritz on that day in American history—“a disconcerting and freakish coincidence,” according to author Dan Briody—helped establish Carlyle as a motherlode for conspiracy theorists.
And NO I do not believe in the Conspiracy Theory of History dating back to the 'Gnomes of Zurich' or The Illuminati or the Knights Templar or whatever. What this does show, however, is James Baker's deep interest in the Middle East in a *financial* area that continues up until this very day. Now, lets see how this shapes up with some of the fine folks that were asked for input into the ISG report, from the NYT previously:
As the Iraq Study Group finished its meetings in Washington, it heard final testimony from Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, a Democrat who has urged a specific timeline for withdrawal, and Senator John McCain of Arizona, who has called for a significant bolstering of troops to gain control of the Iraqi capital. Two former secretaries of state, Henry A. Kissinger and George P. Shultz, also spoke to the group as it debated its final conclusions.
So, no one that has had military service in the past decade or two. And those Senator's Kerry and McCain I have castigated on other issues as to their ability to hold to *any* viewpoint over time. And here are some of the other luminaries that have served with or worked with the Carlyle Group, taken from Wikipedia, and I am picking and choosing here:

    • James Baker III, former United States Secretary of State under George H. W. Bush, Staff member under Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, Carlyle Senior Counselor, served in this capacity from 1993 to 2005.
    • George H. W. Bush, former U.S. President, Senior Advisor to the Carlyle Asia Advisory Board from April 1998 to October 2003.
    • George W. Bush, current U.S. President. Was appointed in 1990 to the Board of Directors of one of Carlyle's first acquisitions, an airline food business called Caterair, which Carlyle eventually sold at a loss. Bush left the board in 1992 to run for Governor of Texas.
    • Frank C. Carlucci, former United States Secretary of Defense from 1987 to 1989;
    • Also, former Princeton wrestling partner of present US Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld. Carlyle Chairman and Chairman Emeritus from 1989 to 2005.
    • John Major, former British Prime Minister, Chairman, Carlyle Europe from 2002 until 2005.
    • Mack McLarty, White House Chief of Staff under President Bill Clinton, President of Kissinger McLarty Associates, Carlyle Senior Advisor from 2003 to the present.
    • Norman Pearlstine - editor-in-chief of Time (1995-2005)
Now, this is *not* guilt by association, but it does serve to look at 'Group Think'. Then there is the Kissinger McLarty group...why this is becoming a veritable "Who's Who" of clueless foreign policy from the 'Realpolitik' days. Shall we get some of the notables of *that* group? Let us do the Wikipedia twirl and get some more contacts and associates:

    • Kissinger McLarty is a corporate member of the Council of the Americas, the New York-based business organization established by David Rockefeller in 1965.
    • APCO Worldwide
    • The Blackstone Group
    • Hakluyt & Company
    • Covington & Burling
    • Henry Kissinger as appointed chairman of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States by George W. Bush. Congressional Democrats insisted that Kissinger disclose the names of clients. Kissinger and President Bush claimed that such disclosures were not necessary, but Kissinger ultimately stepped down, citing conflicts of interest.
    • Lawrence Eagleburger - Congress required that Eagleburger disclose the names of 16 clients, some of which were his through his Kissinger Associates affiliation.
    • L. Paul Bremer, former managing director. Former Iraq Director of Reconstruction.
    • Brent Scowcroft, former vice-chairman. Former United States National Security Advisor.
    • Lord Carrington, from 1982. Secretary-General of NATO
Why the Gray Heads of 'Realism' are roaming freely here! So the Axis of DiplomoFinance is definitely lining up and this is not boding well at all for the ISG. Can throwing in the Trilateralist folks be far behind for the Conspiracy Theorists? Probably not, but then folks like to throw in conspiracies when a culture of daftness and ostrich-headed directivity is enough to explain so much. Thus the ISG is touching on the touchstones of the Cold War and clueless post-Cold War and have no one really in touch with the actual 'real world'.

And what did this Grey Headed DiplomoFincanceRealist group come up with? Let us find out from the NYT:
Although the diplomatic strategy takes up the majority of the report, it was the military recommendations that prompted the most debate, people familiar with the deliberations said. They said a draft report put together under the direction of Mr. Baker and Mr. Hamilton had collided with another, circulated by other Democrats on the commission, that included an explicit timeline calling for withdrawal of the combat brigades to be completed by the end of next year. In the end, the two proposals were blended.
Yes, blended like trash and effluvium in a Cuisinart to get a lovely pap to feed to folks. When you get DiplomoFinanceRealism mixed with 'Defeatocrats' and their misguided notions of how 'kumbaya' will save everyone the resulting *blend* is quite a horrid mix leading to appeasement. This is absolute and pure Hamiltonian thinking on looking for stability for economic reasons and letting the rest of the world go to hell in search of economic stability. These are the exact same folks that pushed for the 'Cold War' to be static, to build an arsenal of democracy that never gets used at high profit, and wanted extra generations with THAT war and now with THIS one by seeking economic stability via diplomacy.

These are the self-same idiots that gave Transnational Terrorism breathing room by never dealing with it *anywhere*. They always pushed economics, diplomacy and stability, and somehow never got great advances against Transnational Terrorism and, in point of fact, allowed it to grow unhindered via low cost trade with 'unfriendly Nations' so as to 'help them into the modern world'. You remember these folks pushing out Economic Liberty will bring Freedom and Real Liberty?

The ones who formed the good-old 'Military Industrial Complex'?

The various groups that now include banking, corporate buy-outs and picking up of International Debt and then getting their spokesman put in charge of a group to see after their needs and to hell with the Nation. Like the ISG.

Mind you in all of this the ISG has not even begun to address the major problems of 'Realpolitik', the actual problems of Iraq and the entire Middle East and they cannot put down any framework nor give definition of what actual Peace in the Middle East would look like. They don't even have a single soul in their group that knows what it takes to CREATE an Army in the modern world that is accountable to Civilian Government. And they will not address such barbarism in any way nor put any trade in danger to help stop that easy and cheap arming of the Enemies of the Nation. So far from being 'saviors' and 'wise elders' they are looking to continue the cheap armament of our National Enemies, offer no reprisals upon them, and, in point of fact, appease them by not holding them accountable to anything whatsoever.

Thus, by being unable to understand or even cope with the full depth of what is going on in Iraq, they cannot properly address what is going on there. And by not recognizing all of the vast panoply of forces that have finally come out from under their lovely Cold War stasis, they have no ability to address what to do NEXT.


Not only is James Baker inconsistent on a couple of things, but he has had no problem with overlooking dictators looking to expand their power and influence. And yet he is seen as a 'realist'. For his friends, maybe... but they do have to realize that standing up now will be less costly when all the money and wealth in the world will not prevent individual 'movers and shakers' from being the targets of Transnational Terrorism. They cannot be bought off with baubles as it is control of your LIFE that they seek. Or your death if you do not submit to their enslavement of you.

This is the fight of the Nation, but not necessarily a National War.

How nice of Mr. Baker to want to deploy the creaky old relics of the Cold War... against an enemy that does not fit that conflict nor any conception of 20th century warfare. And yet that time from before the modern industrial age has returned with new vigor and power for being off on the sidelines for a century and more. And in having no deep, historical context and by being unable to look at the tools necessary to get the job done, they flail around hoping to find a way to make the boat anchor they are attached to stop descending into the depths of the abyss.

Any taking the advice of Mr. Baker and his group will likewise be heading into a cold, dark place where tyranny encroaches upon them because they refuse to counter it.

Because it might actually cost some money to do so.

The cost in lives they never do seem to address.


M. Simon said...

You know, speaking of realism, drug prohibition is not a solution to our drug problem and it creates a price support mechanism for our enemies.

Do Republicans support drug prohibition because it finances criminals or because it finances terrorists?

Republican Socialism. Price supports for criminals and terrorists.

On top of that NIDA says addiction is a genetic disease triggered by the "environment". I believe that environmental trigger is trauma.

Is Addiction Real?

A Jacksonian said...

I have no idea about Republicans, but my Party Agenda Platform holds the following:

- To increase the Welfare of the Union all drugs and medications shall no longer have Federal prohibition upon them, but non-medical use of all drugs and medications shall receive taxation upon them, save those things done and made freely by individuals that are not for sale. Only those things that cause immediate death or loss of life in miniscule quantities or are so highly poisonous either via toxicity or radioactivity shall be restricted upon the marketplace of the Nation.

- The States already have many laws for those who are no longer able to control their actions via the use of substances and it is suggested that they actually enforce those laws. For all work that is in mass transportation or oversight of things that would directly cause loss of life or negatively impact the Nation shall a 'clean and sober' clause be put into all Federal Contracts. One does not drive, fly or control dangerous substances or power plants while in a state of incapacitation due to use of substances or their misuse. This includes all aircraft and international shipping and interstate commerce transport. Those are things the Federal Government can and should oversee and endangering commerce between States by willful negligence for one's own pleasure should carry a penalty with it.

But then I am a Jacksonian, not a Republican and don't see much in common with them these days.

More than willing to let people use what they want so long as they are held accountable to their actions for doing so. Abuse your body and put others at risk in that doing, then you are endangering the public good. But then we already have DUI and other impairment laws around, so those pretty well cover that. Don't see the need for the laws or the Nannystate.