Would someone please explain why the Bush administration launched its own comprehensive internal review(s) of U.S. policy towards Iraq about a month before the Congressionally-mandated bipartisan Iraq Study Group headed by James Baker and Lee Hamilton is due to present its findings? Or why W is likely to make mincemeat of the yet to be released ISG report because its recommendations, we're told, call for gradual US troop withdrawals? Seems to me W must have rejected that suggestion out of hand even before reading the report, his response was so quick. Or am I reading the tea leaves wrong?
Given the Great Decider’s latest pronouncement, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the purpose of those internal administration reviews by the JCS and others is not to compliment or reinforce the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group whose members approached the task methodically and with some of the best American expert advice available. Instead, the administration generated internal assessments – due the middle of December – will in all likelihood and with deliberate intention work at cross purposes. They will, I’ll bet, be shaped to fit the needs of W’s “stay the course” sink-or-swim policy that has been the bedrock of this administration’s approach to the Middle East all along.
I can’t help but think that the finger prints of Cheney and his neocon cabal will likely be all over the administration response to the ISG in their never ending chess game with the foreign policy realists - regardless of party affiliation. It’s unfortunate, but despite Rumsfeld’s push from grace, Cheney's neocon crew appears to continue to retain far too much influence on White House foreign policy decision-making despite what should be the national implications of the “throw the rascals out” results of the November elections.
Someone might want to remind them that if this were a parliamentary system, they would already be toast.
Could this explain why Philip Zelikow, the voice of pragmatism at the State Department, decided to return to academia and see his family once in a while: why go down with the sinking ship particularly if you’re advice is ignored anyway?
Passing the buck?
But could the result of this White House maneuvering be to paralyze the US decision-making process so that nothing can happen before W has been evicted from the White House in January 2009? If so why? Who benefits? Certainly neither Americans nor Iraqis. But I don’t think it makes W, his administration or his historical legacy look good either.
If it’s so our erstwhile president can declare that he “stayed the course” in his “global war on terror” despite the fact that Iraq under Saddam Hussein was never a breeding ground for Al Qaeda terrorists – unless you want to count the small group in the eastern mountains of Kurdistan, an area so remote and inaccessible that even the Kurds didn’t control it, then it seems to me what we’re looking at is a “pass-the-buck” pyrrhic victory.
Makes one wonder why anyone of either party would seek the presidency in 2008.