Skip to comments.Elite panel ready to map plan on Iraq
Posted on 11/12/2006 9:07:03 AM PST by TexKat
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the top commander in Iraq, voiced confidence Saturday that the United States would not abandon its mission in this violence-racked country amid a post-election re-evaluation of Iraq strategy. "The weeks and months ahead will require courage and determination," Casey said at a Veterans Day naturalization ceremony for 75 U.S. troops at Baghdad's Camp Victory. "But succeed we will."
His comments were among his first public statements since the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld last week.
Washington political insiders have speculated that Casey and U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, who was also at the ceremony, could leave their posts following the Republican Party's defeat Tuesday at the polls. Both men quickly left Saturday's ceremony after reading prepared statements.
In Washington, meanwhile, the re-evaluation will begin in earnest Monday. On that day, a panel of prestigious Americans will begin deliberations to chart a new course on Iraq, with the goal of trying to stabilize the country with a different U.S. strategy and possibly begin withdrawing more than 140,000 troops.
Tuesday's dramatic election results, widely seen as a repudiation of the Bush Iraq policy, have thrust the 10-member, bipartisan Iraq Study Group into an unusual position, similar to that played by the 9/11 commission.
This panel, led by former Secretary of State James A. Baker III and former Rep. Lee Hamilton of Indiana, may play a decisive role in reshaping the U.S. position in Iraq, according to lawmakers and administration officials.
Those familiar with the panel's work predict the ultimate recommendations will not appear novel and that the country has few, if any, good options remaining. Many of the ideas reportedly being considered - more aggressive regional diplomacy with Syria and Iran, greater emphasis on training Iraqi troops or focusing on a new political deal between warring Shiite and Sunni factions - have been tried or have limited chances of success, in the view of many experts on Iraq.
Baker is also exploring whether a broader U.S. initiative in tackling the Arab-Israeli conflict is needed to help stabilize the region.
Given the grave predicament the group faces, its focus is now as much on finding a political solution for the United States as a plan that would bring peace to Iraq. With Republicans and Democrats so bitterly divided over the war, Baker and Hamilton consider a consensus plan of key importance, according to those who have spoken with them.
That could appeal to both parties. Democrats would have something to support after a campaign in which they criticized Bush's Iraq policy without offering many specifics of their own. With support for its Iraq policy fast evaporating even within its own party, the White House might find in the group's plan a politically acceptable exit strategy or cover for a continued effort to prop up the new democratically elected government in Baghdad.
"Baker's objectives for the Iraq Study Group are grounded in his conviction that Iraq is the central foreign policy issue confronting the United States and that the only way to address that issue successfully is to first build a bipartisan consensus," said Arnold Kanter, who served as undersecretary of state under Baker during the first Bush administration.
But the election may have made the job even tougher by emboldening the panel's Democrats, said people familiar with the panel's deliberations. The election "sent a huge signal," said one of these sources, who added that the panel is trying to come to grips with whether the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki can solve Iraq's problems.
While Baker has been testing the waters for some time to determine how much change in Iraq policy the White House will tolerate, Hamilton faces the perhaps now even-more-difficult challenge of cajoling Democrats like Leon Panetta, White House chief of staff during the Clinton administration, and power broker Vernon Jordan to sign on to a plan that falls short of a phased troop withdrawal, the position of many congressional Democrats.
In a brief interview, Hamilton conceded the obstacles ahead and emphasized that no decisions had been made. "We need to get [the report] drafted, number one," Hamilton said. "We need to reach agreement, and that may not be possible."
When formed last spring by Congress, the Iraq Study Group was little known beyond elite circles of the U.S. foreign policy world. Now its work has become perhaps the most eagerly awaited Washington report in many years - recommendations are now expected early next month - with many lawmakers of both parties saying they are looking for answers to the troubled U.S. mission in Iraq.
Indeed, the White House, which had been skeptical the group will have much new to say, has been notably more receptive since the election.
"If these recommendations help bring greater consensus for Republicans and Democrats, I think that could be very helpful," said Dan Bartlett, counselor to Bush, though he added, "If there were a rifle-shot solution we would have already pulled the trigger."
Bush, Vice President Cheney and Stephen Hadley, the president's national security adviser, will meet with members of the commission Monday.
During three days of deliberations, the panel also will hear by video link from British Prime Minister Tony Blair - who sources said has been anxious to talk to the group - as well as consult with the Democratic shadow foreign policy Cabinet, including former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, U.N. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke and Sandy Berger, national security adviser.
Dear God in heaven...
Who cares what these unelected professional fatcats want? The complaint of republicans was tying our troops hands and let them fight. I think these people are deliberately misreading the election. Disgusting.
Words. Where is his initiative to disarm the militias - particularly Al Sadr's?
I Dew Spell Chek I Dew! Now what fun would that be if we all spell checked? It'd be just like a bunch of clones- everyone the same- all spelling perfectly- no diversity, no sppontenaity. Besides, having to figutre out what someone is saying by excersizning the brain keeps the alzheimers blues away.
Every Democrat that President Bush chose for the Iraq Study Group has strong ties to Bill Clinton: Vernon Jordan who recommended Monica for her job; Leon Panetta, Clinton's Chief of Staff, William Perry, Clinton's Secretary of Defense, Charles Robb, Senator from Virginia and Clinton's primary legislative water carrier in the Senate and Lee Hamilton, Clinton's primary legislative water carrier in the House.
I can somewhat understand having some Democrats in the Iraq Study Group but why are they all CLINTON Democrats?
That's the response to a setback? Give up? Throw in the towel? Write it all off as a failure? Well done, MSM!
I sure hope you're in the minority or we're toast as a nation.
I won't give up and I won't stop trying to do the best I can. I hope there are others here who feel the same way.
God help those Iraqis who cast their lot with us. They will be slaughtered just like the Vietnamese who stood with us.
Thank you for your service. The 3ID kicked ASS! I had the pleasure of working with them on their second rotation at Taji in early '05. ;-)
NEWSWEEK COVER: Father Knows Best
Sunday November 12, 10:42 am ET
Bush 41 and the Rumsfeld-Gates Swap at the Pentagon: 'His Fingerprints Are All Over This,' Says Friend
Baker-Bush 41 Adviser and Co-Chair of Iraq Study Group-Cautions New Defense Leadership Will Not Bring Quick Fix: 'This is Not a Precooked Deal ... and There is no Magic Bullet'
NEW YORK, Nov. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- While George H.W. Bush denies helping orchestrate the replacement of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld with Robert M. Gates -- an adviser from his own administration, a Bush friend tells Newsweek, "his fingerprints are all over this." The friend, a veteran of previous GOP administrations, explains further: "This would have been done by nuance and indirection. Forty-one would have said to 43, 'One of the people who I've been talking to who might be helpful is Bob Gates'." In Newsweek's November 20 cover package, "Father Knows Best," (on newsstands Monday, November 13), a team of editors and correspondents-including Editor Jon Meacham, Editor-at-Large Evan Thomas, Senior White House Correspondent Richard Wolffe, Investigative Correspondent Michael Isikoff, National Security Correspondent John Barry and Political Correspondent Jonathan Darman -- reports on the president's decision to bring in members of his father's administration to chart a new course in Iraq, analyzes the complex histories of those involved and looks at other figures that will take on new prominence in Washington in the wake of the Congressional elections.
It has been widely speculated that James A. Baker III, the elder Bush's secretary of State, now co-chair of the Iraq Study Group, may also have been instrumental in making the Rumsfeld-Gates switch. He was spotted with both Bush father and son, as well as Gates, in early October at the launching of the new aircraft carrier, USS George H.W. Bush. But Baker, like Bush, is not likely to have been plotting in public. "For a meeting like that," says a former Baker aide, "the maximum number of people involved is two." When asked whether he played a part, Baker tells Newsweek, "You don't have a virgin here," meaning he wasn't about to spill any secrets. (The White House says that Baker had nothing to do with the Pentagon swap.) Baker also warned against getting too optimistic about some sudden deliverance from the agonies of Iraq. "Look," he protested. "This is not a precooked deal. And there is no magic bullet."
For his part, the president was said to be indifferent to the press chatter about the decision to bring in his father's team members. "I don't care," he told his advisers when they asked him, the morning after the elections, how he wanted to deal publicly with the suggestion that he was picking one of his father's advisers. "He doesn't think the neocons ran him over a cliff and now he has to go to Dad," says a senior Bush aide. "It's not the way he sees this. He wants the best and brightest."
The meeting where President Bush decided to bring in Gates was itself a well-guarded secret. On the Sunday before the elections, Gates, the president of Texas A&M University and the deputy national-security adviser and CIA director in the administration of President George H.W. Bush, drove two hours from College Station, Texas, to the small town of McGregor, where he switched from his own car to one driven by White House chief of staff Josh Bolten. Gates was quietly taken to President George W. Bush's office on his ranch at Crawford, where the two talked long enough to convince Bush that Gates was the man to replace Rumsfeld. Guests at the presidential ranch, assembled for the 60th birthday of First Lady Laura Bush and the First Couple's 29th wedding anniversary, didn't even notice Gates's coming and going.
Once he assumes his new post, Gates is likely to welcome the Iraq Study Group recommendations as if they were his own, while Rumsfeld would have been a surefire obstacle to whatever Baker and the team proposed, reports Newsweek. Baker signed on to the study group only after getting Bush 43's personal assurance that the White House wanted him to take the job. (According to a source knowledgeable about the study group who requested anonymity discussing sensitive negotiations, Baker also received a backstage promise that Rumsfeld would stay out of the way as the commissioners interviewed generals and diplomats.) "There are going to be some things in this report that the administration is not going to be excited about," Baker tells Newsweek, choosing his words carefully.
Elsewhere in the cover package, Darman reports on how Democrat Nancy Pelosi, soon to be the first female Speaker of the House, developed her strategy for claiming the Speaker's gavel by consulting corporate America-not your typical liberal play. After the party's disastrous defeat in the 2004 elections, she began casting around for fresh ideas on how the Democrats could reintroduce themselves to the American people. "I decided to go to the private sector," she tells Newsweek, "and ask them how to become No. 1." Through her staff, Pelosi found her way to a group of corporate-image consultants including high-tech entrepreneur Richard Yanowitch, computer-software marketer John Cullinane and Jack Trout, a marketing strategist who'd worked with big corporate clients like Merck and IBM. "I specialize in differentiation," Trout says. "I told her, 'That's your problem-you haven't found a way to differentiate the party from the Republican Party in a clear, simple way'." Trout encouraged Pelosi to take advantage of the weak points in Karl Rove's base-driven Republican strategy. "You've got to go the opposite way," he told her. "It's Marketing 101. Say 'We're about good governing for all, not a privileged few ... ' Bring back the big-tent idea."
(Read entire cover package at http://www.Newsweek.com.)
Realism and negativity are not the same thing. You will note that I said make what progress that you can, but everyone in theater needs to factor in what has happened in the US.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Lawrence S. Eagleburger Replaces Robert Gates on Iraq Study Group
November 10, 2006
Former U.S. Secretary of State Lawrence S. Eagleburger has replaced former CIA Director Robert M. Gates as a member of the Iraq Study Group, study group co-chairmen James A. Baker, III and Lee H. Hamilton said on November 10. Gates resigned in a conversation with Baker, explaining that he felt he could no longer serve on the Iraq Study Group after President George W. Bush announced his nomination Wednesday as the Secretary of Defense. Both Baker and Hamilton praised Gates efforts on the Iraq Study Group, saying he had made significant contributions during his eight months as a member.
Not to worry... we have ALWAYS had these types. More importantly, there are more of us than of "them"!
The Iraq Study Group is a bipartisan group of prominent Americans supported by four premier institutions. It is led by co-chairs James A. Baker, III, the nations 61st Secretary of State and Honorary Chairman of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University, and Lee H. Hamilton, former Congressman and Director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
The other members of the study group include: Lawrence S. Eagleburger, Vernon E. Jordan, Jr., Edwin Meese III , Sandra Day O'Connor, Leon E. Panetta, William J. Perry, Charles S. Robb, and Alan K. Simpson.
My sentiments exactly. What CAN they be thinking?
Congressional cat-fight funding debate begins in four months. The new emergency funding at reduced level will be in the electronic pipeline in six months.