Feed on Posts or Comments 23 January 2018

2006 Election &Virginia politics Richard Falknor on 22 Oct 2006 02:14 am

A “Heads Up” on the Wolf-sponsored Iraq Commission

ED: This posting first appeared on NoVaPolitics.

Conservative Virginia readers will want to pay close attention to the Washington Post’s endorsement of Representative Frank Wolf, the long-serving Tenth District Republican.

Here is one of the highlights of the Post’s October 14, 2006 paean to the senior member of the House appropriations panel:

“It was chiefly at his prodding that Congress established a bipartisan commission on Iraq, led by former secretary of state James A. Baker III and former representative Lee H. Hamilton, that represents the best hope at this point of forging a national consensus on how to proceed in the war.”

Last month, Insight Magazine quoted the congressman as saying:

“‘What the United States needs on Iraq is some fresh ideas from people able to speak out, and no one is more qualified to do that than Jim Baker,’ Mr. Wolf said.”

But national-security expert Michael Rubin has a different take on what he calls “The stacked Baker-Hamilton Commission.” In his Weekly Standard article Conclusion First, Debate Afterwards . . . Rubin writes – – –

“POLICYMAKERS ARE ABUZZ with the explosive recommendations for U.S. policy toward Iraq soon to be released by the Baker-Hamilton Commission: Abandon democracy, seek political compromise with the Sunni insurgents, and engage Tehran and Damascus as partners to secure stability in their neighbor.While former secretary of state James Baker and former representative Lee Hamilton said they would withhold their report until after the elections on November 7 to avoid its politicization, they have discussed their findings with the press. On October 8, for example, Baker appeared on ABC’s This Week, and the next day he discussed the group’s findings with Charlie Rose. On October 12, both Baker and Hamilton appeared on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.”

Rubin, who is editor of the Middle East Quarterly and a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, paints a less than flattering picture of some commission participants:

“Many appointees appeared to be selected less for expertise than for their hostility to President Bush’s war on terrorism and emphasis on democracy. Raad Alkadiri, for example, has repeatedly defined U.S. motivation for Iraq’s liberation as a grab for oil. Raymond Close, listed on the Iraq Study Group’s website as a ‘freelance analyst,’ is actually a member of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, which, in July 2003, called for Vice President Dick Cheney’s resignation for an alleged conspiracy to distort intelligence, which they said had been uncovered by none other than Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV. The following summer, Close posited that ‘Bush and the neocons’ had fabricated the charge ‘that the evil Iranian mullahs inspired and instigated the radical Shia Islamist insurgency.’ To Close, the problem was not Iranian training and supply of money and sophisticated explosives to terrorists, but rather neoconservatism.”

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“Baker placed Chas Freeman, his former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, on the panel, despite Freeman’s assertion, in the antiwar documentary Uncovered: The War in Iraq, that the Bush administration had fabricated its justifications for war. Why seek advice from an area specialist who has clearly crossed the line from analysis to conspiracy?”

Rubin, who spent much time outside the U.S. controlled “green-zone” in Iraq, notes:

“When Rep. Frank R. Wolf conceived of the Iraq Study Group, he chose Baker and Hamilton to lead it in recognition of their extensive diplomatic experience. But it is this experience that may not only condemn the commission’s recommendations to failure, but also further inflame Iraq. In the Middle East, Baker’s legacy is twofold. As secretary of state, he presided over the 1989 Taif Accords, which ended Lebanon’s civil war. By blessing Syrian military occupation, he sacrificed Lebanese independence on the altar of short-term pragmatism. Many Iraqis–Sunni elites and former officers especially–fear Washington may repeat the episode in their country. They fear Baker’s cold realist calculations may surrender Iraq to Iranian suzerainty. While Americans may nonetheless welcome short-term calm, in terms of U.S. security, the Taif model failed: Damascus used its free hand to gut civil society and turn Lebanon into a safe haven for terror.”

There had already been warning signs about this commision and Mr. Baker. Here is the American Enterprise Institute’s Michael Ledeen on the return of the former Secretary of State:

“So it seems we are hell-bent on making a deal that will put some sort of honorable patina on our delivery of Iraq into the hands of the Islamic Republic. It will be interesting to see if the deal can be made. Even close friends of Baker, such as Brent Scowcroft, are on the record saying (after an encounter with Ahmadinejad) there is no hope of reaching a reasonable modus vivendi with Tehran. And on the Iranian side, it is dangerous to be seen dealing with Washington. Those who have tried it in the past have come to grief, because the Islamic Republic is based in large part on hatred of America. That is why Iran has been waging war against us for 27 years. So while the Iranians may recognize that this is a delicious victory, it is poisoned by the risk of fracturing their own ranks, and even encouraging their restless people to view the whole charade as an Iranian surrender to an American diktat.

None of this is likely to dampen the enthusiasm of the Rices and the Bakers, who, let it be recalled, fought as hard as they could to preserve the territorial and political integrity of our ancient Soviet enemy. And once the Soviet empire imploded, Secretary of State Baker and President Bush warned against any American celebration of its downfall. Baker is not the sort of man who welcomes world-historical events, or, for that matter, world-historical figures who prefer victory to a good deal. In his (very lengthy) memoir of his years at State, Baker did not deign to mention the role of Pope John Paul II.”

The respected powerlineblog cites Hugh Hewitt on the commission on Iraq:

“This is a terrible move, this establishment of a body that will by its very nature be second guessing an army in the field and under fire during a time of intense partisan debate. Voters rendered a verdict on Iraq in 2004 elections. They can modify that verdict in 2006 if they choose. The idea of civilians gathering to second guess the military and its strategy and the president and his leadership reminds of the country’s experience with the Commmittee on Reconstruction’s adventures from the post-Civil War era, the Church Committee’s wonderful effects on intelligence gathering, and most recently the antics of Bob Kerrey and Richard ben Veniste on the 9/11 Commission.”

As Michael Rubin explains – – –

“Iraq is a bipartisan problem. Regardless of the outcome of the 2006, and even 2008, elections, the legacy of Iraq is going to impact U.S. policy and security for years to come. It is unfortunate, then, that the commission has bypassed its responsibility to seek a new approach and instead has embraced the old.

Perhaps, rather than revert to the pre-9/11 habits of short-term accommodation and a belief that two oceans insulate the United States from the world, the commission should expand its mandate. Iraqis fleeing Saddam for the West have embraced democracy wherever they have settled, an indication that their culture is not to blame. Rather than preempt debate, fresh eyes might consider whether the deterioration in Iraq signals the failure of democracy or an inability to ensure the rule of law.”

Read the rest of Rubin’s critique here. As one well-known news network says: We report and you decide.

Trackback This Post | Subscribe to the comments through RSS Feed

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.