Baker panel preparing alternatives to Bush Iraq policies

James A. Baker III, the former secretary of state with a long-standing reputation of service to Republican presidents and the Bush family in particular, has joined a list of prominent Republicans raising questions about the administration’s Iraq policy.

Co-chairman of a bipartisan commission studying what to do next in the wartorn country, Baker said his panel is preparing to recommend that President Bush consider options other than his “stay-the-course” strategy in Iraq.

“Our commission believes that there are alternatives between the stated alternatives, the ones that are out there in the political debate, of stay the course and cut and run,” the former secretary of state said.

Partisan critics of Democratic proposals to consider drawing down U.S. troops in Iraq at times call that kind of talk a “cut and run” strategy.

Baker did not disclose specific proposals that might be adopted by the commission, which plans to issue its report after the November congressional elections. But his remarks Sunday on the ABC’s “This Week” were the latest in which a high-profile Republican has seemed to say it is time for the administration to consider other alternatives in Iraq.

White House spokesman Tony Snow said that when the commission makes its proposals, “We are going to take them seriously.” Asked if the administration would make changes after the election, Snow said “There are tactical and strategic changes and adjustments that are made all the time. That’s the nature of a war.”

The mounting U.S. costs of the Iraq war _ more than $300 billion and more than 2,700 American troops dead _ has taken a toll on Bush’s popularity ratings and on Republican prospects for retaining control of Congress in the Nov. 7 elections.

Agreeing in part with Bush, Baker said “if we picked up and left right now” Iraq would be plunged into “the biggest civil war you’ve ever seen,” with Turkey, Iran, Syria and other neighboring countries getting involved.

But he made it clear that the commission would advise changes in U.S. strategy, nevertheless.

“We’re going to come up, hopefully, with some recommendations that the Congress and the president and the country can look at,” he said.

Just last week, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner, R-Va., returned from a trip to Iraq to say the war there was “drifting sideways.” Warner, usually an administration loyalist, said that if Iraqis do not made progress in three months to reduce ethnic fighting and bolster reconstruction efforts, Congress would have to make “bold decisions.”

Just last week, Bush’s first secretary of state, Colin Powell said, “Stay the course isn’t a good enough answer, because to stay the course you have to have a finish line.”

Other Republicans who have been critical of aspects of Bush’s Iraq policies have included Sens. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island and Rep. Christopher Shays of Connecticut. Chafee and Shays face difficult re-election races next month.

Baker also questioned the administration’s policy of not talking to Iran or Syria, whom the United States has accused of helping terrorism.

“I don’t think you restrict your conversations to your friends,” said Baker, who noted he had made 15 trips to Damascus as secretary of state.

“It’s got to be hard-nosed,” Baker said. “It’s got to be determined. You don’t give away anything, but in my view it is not appeasement to talk to your enemies.”

Baker was a close adviser to Bush’s father, President George H.W. Bush, serving him both as White House chief of staff and secretary of state. He came to the aid of the current president during the Florida recount during the contested election of 2000, has a long track record of loyalty to the Bush family and the GOP and has developed a reputation of being conservative but pragmatic.

Baker said Sunday he would like “to take this thing out of politics” by delaying the release of the commission’s recommendations until after the elections, and possibly until a new Congress takes office in January. The panel’s other co-chair is former Rep. Lee Hamilton of Indiana, who was co-chairman of the Sept. 11 commission.


© 2006 The Associated Press

16 Responses to "Baker panel preparing alternatives to Bush Iraq policies"

  1. Jack  October 10, 2006 at 4:03 pm

    Baker didn’t bother to mention it, but our troops won’t be allowed to be brought home until more of Bush’s domestic War on America and American citizens is first won. Baker doesn’t mention Iraq’s use as a distraction from what’s afoot here. The NAIS animal program (requires GPS coordinates to owners’ homes and registration/chipping of all individual heads of stock down through each fish in every farm pond) to be put on megadabases isn’t done yet. Its goal is to prevent/price US citizens from raising their own livestock and to put small livestock producers out of business giving meat production total monopoly to Bush’s transnational corporate pocket buddies. NAIS will turn our animal vets, neighbors, and even postal carriers into paid fedral snitches as to how many are illegally raising stock. There is a similar “NAIS like” program on humans (Americans) underway to compile individual dossiers on all US citizens (begun in stealth under the auspices of the Census Bureau in Puerto Rico) which although far along, isn’t complete yet either. Few realize the former 10 year census has been radically changed to a much darker program. The “new census?” currently 12 pages in Puerto Rico is to be expanded to 24 pages of the most intrusive type questions possible and is to be conducted newly on a yearly basis. Experiments remain ongoing in Puerto Rico as well as specific targeted cities here of >65,000. Part of the experiment is to learn just how much personal data (smaller start then explosively to be expanded in depth of probing us) Americans will tolerate being required to divulge to big brother before rebelling including demanding to know how many pregnancies we’ve each had. Both leave the the worst of the KBG looking like candystripers. The “human targeted NAIS” goes much further than warrantless wire and internet taps documenting in individual dossiers all gleanable data of every nature on every US citizen. Information will include our religion, political, social and other affiliations, bank accounts, credit cards, all other assets held, how much area of land we own (the better to make seizure under eminent domain), all incremental financial assets, all health records and medical information from birth (to later include DNA indivual samples) and precisely every last gleanable byte of information about each of us from birth we least want shouted from rooftops to maintain any image of having any privacy whatsoever. To boot, the “supposed census(?) gleaned information” is to be merged with other megadatabases including those of IRS, law enforcement of all levels, civil and criminal court records, Military records, Social Security, Medicare, Medicade, educational and all other databases on us.

    Any who believe this information is being gathered to “prevent terrorism”–are fatally foolish. Whether animal NAIS or human NAIS like mega data gathering being done on us (dossiers anyone?) in many cases deeply involves 3rd parties with the info to be “sliced and diced” and sold and and resoled used for political control as well as corporate targeting and corporate financial gain.

  2. barbara lochner  October 10, 2006 at 4:10 pm

    I read months ago – maybe even on this site – that daddy Bush had called in Baker to work on getting W out of this mess. So now Baker’s involvment is out in the open.. Anybody trying to explain how Baker got involved and suddenly shows up with solutions???

  3. John Hanks  October 10, 2006 at 5:43 pm

    The are probably trying every option before they wack him.

  4. Samuel  October 10, 2006 at 6:50 pm

    As Greg Palast states in ‘Armed Madhouse’, James Baker has been involved in a great struggle with the neocons at the pentagon, over who is going to control the economy of Iraq, especially the oil fields. The neocons, according to Palast wanted to drill the abundant oil under Iraq in an effort to wrestle control of the worlds oil away from Saudia Arabia. However, the oil companies, whose side Baker is on, don’t want Opec messed with, because they are making a killing keeping things just the way they are. What can one say about folks that do everything in their power to keep themselves and their own as far away from harms way as possible, yet have no problem sending your children over there, while they are emeshed in a power play to decide the fate of the vast, largely untapped oil fields in Iraq. As for the Florida vote, I’m sure Baker did his dishonest best to cheat Gore out of winning that state. These people only care about power. They are as crooked as the day is long.

  5. Carl Nemo  October 10, 2006 at 8:17 pm

    To put it simply, Baker is another Republican retread that cannot be trusted. Little do people realize that Saddam was set up by the Bush senior administration to attack Iraq. Saddam asked April Glaspie our ambassador to his nation if it would be OK to solve their long-standing issues with Kuwait by whatever means. Ms. Glaspie informed Saddam that James Baker said he could do whatever is necessary to solve their issues. It was of no concern to the U.S.?! Saddam invaded Kuwait and Bush senior cried foul and enlisted the aid of an international coalition to crush him and make U.S. inroads into the region. GW2 was started based on cooked intelligence. In other words GW1 and GW2 are nothing but shakedowns of the American taxpayer’s for the benefit of the Bush family and their buddies in the “oil patch” and the M.I. complex. I’ll provide a link concerning this discussion between Ambassador Glaspie and Saddam on the eve of GW1.
    The Bush family has a history of making money off the waging of war.

    http://www.chss.montclair.edu/english/furr/glaspie.html

  6. Victory Gin  October 11, 2006 at 12:55 am

    http://www.hereinreality.com/baker.html

    Let’s not forget that Mr. Baker is a central pillar in The Carlyle Group, poised to make $$$$$$$$$$ from any American conflict anywhere.
    When President Ike warned of the ‘Military-Industry Complex, he could not have better described The Carlyle Group.
    Mr. Baker is most likely dirty and not to be trusted. He should be treated like a snake-oil salesman.

  7. Doubtom  October 11, 2006 at 7:24 am

    Ah yes, you know things are getting dicy in the front office when backroom players like Baker crawl out from underneath their rocks. Baker and no less than Doctor “Strangelove” Kissinger, have been lured out of their damp resting places, to once more regale the nation with their unique formulas for correcting all the ills of the world. Kissinger did such a splendid job with Vietnam that he’s garnered ‘War criminal” status in a few countries. Just the sort of dude we want for getting us out of deep doo-doo.
    And what can I say about James Baker (the third) that is worthy of his eminence? One might take the position that Baker is the one to blame for putting IdiotBush in office, so it’s only fitting that he should try to straighten out his own mess.

  8. dave  October 10, 2006 at 3:44 pm
  9. Jack  October 10, 2006 at 4:03 pm
  10. barbara lochner  October 10, 2006 at 4:10 pm
  11. John Hanks  October 10, 2006 at 5:43 pm
  12. Samuel  October 10, 2006 at 6:50 pm
  13. Carl Nemo  October 10, 2006 at 8:17 pm
  14. Victory Gin  October 11, 2006 at 12:55 am
  15. Doubtom  October 11, 2006 at 7:24 am
  16. dave  October 10, 2006 at 3:44 pm

    Its nice to see some Republicans finally who don’t have their heads up George’s butt, but what’s the point? Has Bush not told us just about every time he’s spoken about Iraq that this war will not end during his presidency? That seems a pretty plain statement of his plan to me – Keep it going.

    For whatever reason, he has no intention of ending this war, and so has none of doing anything that will get us out of it or win it either. How many times does he have to tell us it will last as long as he does before we start to listen? While Bush is pResident, there will be war in Iraq. It’s the only thing the man has ever said that I believe.

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