Back to Baker II

In a previous post, I forecast the Bush Administration following the path of former Secretary of State James Baker to work its way out of Iraq. That appears to have come true. Now comes Eli Lake of The New York Sun with a jaw-dropping scoop. Somehow, Eli has obtained a memo written by a policy staffer to the Baker Commission that will likely please Paris, London and Berlin. According to the memo, a key topic at an international conference aimed at extricating America from Iraq will be Israel.

I’m sure the Baker thinking is not anti-Israel per se, although he was always of the “pressure Israel” school. More likely, a lifelong oil man, he’s thinking the Saudis have to be somehow brought into help the U.S. in Iraq and the carrot for that is serving up Israel.

The irony here is despite the popular perception, the Israelis were never gung ho for the Iraq War. Ariel Sharon repeatedly warned of the danger of Iran, not Iraq. It was almost a decade ago when I reported on the frustration of Ahmad Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress at being unable to enlist Israel in his campaign to rid the world of Saddam.

When the Iraq War began so long ago, I wrote of the unintended consequences of war. I quoted Thucydides’s reflections on the onset of the disastrous Syracuse Expedition: “There was a passion for the enterprise which affected everyone alike. The older men thought they would either conquer the places against which they were sailing, or, in any case, with such a large force, could come to no harm; the young had a longing for the sights and experiences of distant places, and were confident that they would return safely…The result of this excessive enthusiasm of the majority was that the few who actually were opposed to the expedition were afraid of being thought unpatriotic if they voted against it, and therefore kept quiet.”

Now, in addition to all the other problems we face, a real possibility exits of Iran perfecting its nuclear weapons technology at the same time they are behind some of the troubles in Iraq are being brought into a conflict they have helped to worsen and are lead by a maniac. One way or another, nothing good is going to come from all this. I see it becoming much, much worse sooner than we think.

And, while freedom did not bloom in Iraq as some wrongly foretold, Bakerism will provide no respite here. No Talleyrand, Metternicht, Bismarck, Kissinger or Baker could negotiate with the Hunnic Nation, the Golden Horde, the Norse, the Mongols or “the Mahdi”. It’s tragic that events will have to play themselves out before we learn that. 

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