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The Coldest Winter

The Coldest Winter

By David Halberstam

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Ear to the Ground

Baker Panel in the Hot Seat

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Posted on Nov 12, 2006
Baker and Bush

Former Secretary of State James Baker (right) meets with Presidents George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter in 2005

The Iraq Study Group, set to meet with the president on Monday, may offer more in the way of political cover than genuine solutions to the problems facing Iraq.  According to Iraq experts familiar with the panel’s work, many of its recommendations either have already been attempted or are unlikely to succeed.

Washington Post:

Those familiar with the panel’s work predict that the ultimate recommendations will not appear novel and that there are few, if any, good options left facing the country. 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 Shiites and Sunni—have either 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 on a plan that would bring peace to Iraq. With Republicans and Democrats so bitterly divided over the war, Baker and Hamilton believe that it is key that their group produce a consensus plan, 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. And with support for its Iraq policy fast evaporating even within its own party, the White House might find in the group’s plan either a politically acceptable exit strategy or a cover for a continued effort to prop up the new democratically-elected government in Baghdad.


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By Druthers, November 14, 2006 at 4:13 am Link to this comment
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When overwhelmed by a problem there is only one thing to do—Create a comission.
This commission must be a really good one.  Bush said it asked lots of interesting question.

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By Paul Amigo, November 13, 2006 at 12:57 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Listen, this is what we do. First, we withdraw all our troops to the border. Then, let the Iraqi factions fight it out to their heart’s content,thereby exhausting their ammo and the crazy ones amongst them.
Then, are you ready for this ?—We RE-INVADE Iraq, but this time with a million troops and an EXIT plan !! That way, Bush will have another chance to say “mission accomplished” and save his legacy!
End of Story!!!!!!

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By Frank, November 13, 2006 at 11:16 am Link to this comment
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If my memory serves me right - it was James Bakers state department that blundered in getting us into the 1st gulf war, by not taking a strong stand (remember April Glaspie) against Saddam when he was rattling his sword about Kuwaits borders and drilling practices a decade ago. He is nothing but a greed driven savy businessman with lots of old boy network political contacts - that thinks making deals with the devil is OK - no matter what the consequences.

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By Antoine, November 13, 2006 at 10:28 am Link to this comment
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“Baker is also exploring whether a broader U.S. initiative in tackling the Arab-Israeli conflict is needed to help stabilize the region.”

“Broader” is not the word I would use.

Recommended viewing:
“Peace, Propaganda and the Promised Land” by Sut Jhally.

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By C Quil, November 13, 2006 at 8:25 am Link to this comment
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Same old same old. A last ditch attempt to haul Dubya’s chestnuts out of the fire, maybe. (What an awful image I just had of that in my head.)

You know what’s pitiful? That Dubya still wants to leave some kind of “legacy”. He’s left one, alright. Debt, death, and division.

And you know what? He still doesn’t get it. Daddy and his friends can’t fix this one. Ever.

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By B, November 13, 2006 at 7:21 am Link to this comment
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Baker , Bush, and Cheney go way back. I’m sure there was plenty of Baker in Iraq policy already. I’m not very optimistic that this report will change much (except maybe news coverage for the next few days) as I’m sure his input has already been part of the strategy.

Time will tell I guess….


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By bryan Miller, November 13, 2006 at 6:33 am Link to this comment
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The only partial solution to the debacle Bush created in Iraq is to use the billions we’re pumping into that poor country for a massive weapons buy-back program. This may not be able to stem the ideological hatred amongst factions, but at least it would make it far less lethal.

Pony up America. We broke it, now we must spend our treasure fixing it/

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By Doug from Australia, November 13, 2006 at 12:06 am Link to this comment
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While the Iraq war is the urgent problem to be dealt with, the big issue for the US and Middle East politics is Israel and the Palestinians. The US cannot continue to support Israel’s continued domestic policies which result in massive loss of life.  Someone in the US needs to have the courage to confront Middle East politics as a genuine peace broker - someone who will not be frightened of the pro-Israeli forces and their influence on US domestic politics. Until that happens, the US will be fighting the so called War on Terror, forever.

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By Spinoza, November 12, 2006 at 10:52 pm Link to this comment
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Step 1.  The USA announces that it is leaving Iraq in 10 or so weeks, starting today.

Step 2.  After all troops are out we announce that all hostilities have to end in 2 weeks if the Iraqi’s want one billion in aid for infrastructure to be repeated up to 3 times a year for ten years.

Step 3.  The Israelis are given notice that they have to start negotiation for the return of the Golan and all of the West Bank, Gaza and all disputed territories with results publisned in four months or they have to give up the idea of a separate Jewish state and opt for a bi-national secular state. In either case Jeruselem is to become an International city under UN control and eventually the home to the UN.

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By R Burke, November 12, 2006 at 10:16 pm Link to this comment
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At AlJazeera Sen.C. Levin (D-MI)12 Nov 06 2013 Makaka time- is pushing for a phased withdrawal 4-6 months.

    To stop terror p 681 (The [Real]People’s History of the US/Zinn) to stop terror the gov’t. must address: get the troops out of Saudia Arabia, Iraq, and stop supporting Israel’s occupation of Pal. land, including the billions for military aid to Israel.

    p.682 Iraq needs it’s infrastructure rebuilt,a water supply & food/ to feed children. The MIC dominates both parties.

    p. 682 Radical change in priorities and foreign policy are needed to improve living conditions in America and the World. The use of gov’t. to serve the needs of the wealthy and powerful.  The economy is NOT sound for the 50 million who struggle to survive in the US.

    p687 The earth’s wealth monopolized by the ‘few’...political power in the hands of liars and murderers…build schools NOT prisonschange bubbles under obedience…there is a growing revulsion against endless wars…this country dominated by corp wealth, military power and 2 antiquated parties…alternative news, documentaries and new lit. outside mainstream media demanding a NEW FUTURE!

(just some notes from Zinn’s A [real] people’s History of the US—not the wealthy white man’s history) p671 prosperous America is a myth also on 684…p 685 there is no National interest WHEN ONLY A FEW [THIS IRAQ STUDY GROUP] PEOPLE DECIDE ON WAR and huge #s here and abroad are killed and crippled as a result)

p688 “ye are many; they are few”

  the humanitarian-super-power not the military [stupid] super power p 682…peace dividend, and see Bernie Sander VT 1st socialist in the senate, on Democracy Now website-done in other countries

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