Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Get Out of the Way Pelosi and Reid

Now that the nonsense orchestrated by Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid to satisfy their kook base has been laid to rest, the grownups attempting to save western civilization from attacks by warring Muslims can concentrate on them. Yes, it’s about oil and it’s about interests, but it’s also about religious fanatics who want you dead, and must be prevented from ever getting their hands on the weapons that can make it so.

President Bush, at the time of the Baker report, may have decided to implement it AFTER achieving certain goals in stabilizing Iraq. Hence the surge and now this:

Bush, Reviving Baker-Hamilton Advice, Recasts Mission in Iraq
May 25 (Bloomberg) -- President George W. Bush, reviving the bipartisan advice of the Iraq Study Group he largely ignored five months ago, is redefining the ultimate U.S. mission as limited to training Iraq's forces, guarding its territory and battling al-Qaeda.

When the panel headed by former Secretary of State James Baker and former Representative Lee Hamilton issued its findings in December, Bush implicitly rejected its recommendations to negotiate unconditionally with Iran and Syria, withdraw most U.S. combat troops by the first quarter of 2008 and change the American role to one of support.

Yesterday, the president publicly embraced the report and sought to use it as a rationale for his troop buildup in Iraq. He called the military reinforcements a way-station to the smaller and narrower U.S. presence envisioned by the panel.

``The recommendations of Baker-Hamilton appeal to me, and that is to be embedded and to train and to guard the territorial integrity of the country and to have special forces to chase down al-Qaeda,'' Bush said at a White House news conference.

``But I didn't think we could get there unless we increased the troop levels to secure the capital,'' Bush said. ``And so, therefore, the decisions I made are all aimed at getting us to a different position.''

A few hours later, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the Pentagon has already begun planning for a transition to a smaller U.S. force with a mission limited to ``a train, equip, continue to go after al-Qaeda and provide support kind of role.''

Congressional Fight
During a Pentagon news conference, Gates added: ``That kind of a role clearly would involve fewer forces than we have now and forces with a different mission.'' He said he couldn't yet say how much U.S. troops could be reduced from their current level of about 155,000 or when the transition could begin.

The statements by Bush and Gates represented a significant shift by an administration that has fought efforts by congressional Democrats to limit the U.S. military role in Iraq. That role currently involves trying to quell a sectarian conflict between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. The Democrats earlier this week dropped an effort to tie new war funding to a withdrawal timetable after Bush vetoed the measure.

In responding to the Iraq Study Group's report, Bush said Dec. 7 he would authorize direct talks with Iran and Syria only if they first agreed ``to not fund terrorists, to help this young democracy survive, to help with the economics of the country.''
Bush brushed off the panel's recommendation to withdraw most U.S. combat forces by 2008, telling reporters he first wanted to hear the military's views. One month later, he announced he was sending an additional 21,500 combat troops -- a decision he argued was in line with the Baker-Hamilton approach.

Yesterday, members of the study group welcomed Bush's new support for their plan, which the president referred to favorably four times yesterday, while saying it was largely the result of the course of events in Iraq and declining political support for the war at home.

``We made 79 recommendations, and they were not really warmly embraced at the time,'' said a Republican panel member, former Senator Alan Simpson of Wyoming, in an interview. ``They did not crush them to their bosom. But now they're looking at them, which I think is tremendous.''

`Matter of Time'
A Democratic member of the study group, Leon Panetta, said Bush has already accepted the panel's recommendations to talk with Syria and Iran and set performance benchmarks for Iraq's government. ``It's only a matter of time before he embraces the recommendations to transition from combat to support,'' Panetta, who served as chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, said in an interview.

Panetta said the panel had expressed support for a temporary buildup only in the context of ``a larger strategy'' that included ``transition from combat to support and a gradual reduction'' of combat troops. Had Bush embraced this overall approach at that time, said Panetta, he would have encountered far less opposition to the buildup.

The commander of all U.S. forces in the Middle East, Admiral William Fallon, said Bush's new embrace of the Baker- Hamilton recommendations made sense in light of recent events that ``open up opportunities,'' such as new U.S. diplomatic contacts with Syria and Iran.

``My sense is the whole thing has been moving in that direction for a while,'' Fallon said in an interview. ``You can read the tea leaves. We said we're going to do the surge, have all the stops pulled out to make it work. We've said we're either going to recognize success or we're going to recognize that we're not making it.''

The U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, is scheduled to meet an Iranian diplomat in Baghdad to discuss Iraq on May 28. It will be one of the highest-level direct exchanges between U.S. and Iranian diplomats since the two countries severed ties in 1979.


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