In the new issue of the Weekly Standard Michael Rubin previews the conclusions of the Baker-Hamilton Commission on American policy toward Iraq. Rubin suggests that our current difficulties in Iraq emanate from Iran and that the commission’s anticipated recommendations will work to Iran’s advantage. Perhaps the most devastating glimpse of the commission comes from Rubin’s foreshortened participation in one of the commission’s four subordinate expert working groups:
Baker and Hamilton gerrymandered these advisory panels to ratify predetermined recommendations. While bipartisan, the groups are anything but representative of the policy debate. I personally withdrew from an expert working group after concluding that I was meant to contribute token diversity rather than my substantive views.
Many appointees appeared to be selected less for expertise than for their hostility to President Bush’s war on terrorism and emphasis on democracy. Raad Alkadiri, for example, has repeatedly defined U.S. motivation for Iraq’s liberation as a grab for oil. Raymond Close, listed on the Iraq Study Group’s website as a “freelance analyst,” is actually a member of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, which, in July 2003, called for Vice President Dick Cheney’s resignation for an alleged conspiracy to distort intelligence, which they said had been uncovered by none other than Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV. The following summer, Close posited that “Bush and the neocons” had fabricated the charge “that the evil Iranian mullahs inspired and instigated the radical Shia Islamist insurgency.” To Close, the problem was not Iranian training and supply of money and sophisticated explosives to terrorists, but rather neoconservatism.
Other experts include a plaintiff in the January 17, 2006, lawsuit against the National Security Agency for its no-warrant wiretap program and a think-tank analyst who had not traveled beyond the Green Zone on her only trip to Iraq in September 2003, but nonetheless demonstrated her open mind by declaring the Iraq endeavor a failure in an interview with a German magazine just days before the commission’s inauguration.
Baker placed Chas Freeman, his former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, on the panel, despite Freeman’s assertion, in the antiwar documentary Uncovered: The War in Iraq, that the Bush administration had fabricated its justifications for war. Why seek advice from an area specialist who has clearly crossed the line from analysis to conspiracy?
Rubin anticipates the commission recommending a course of action including “engagement with Iran,” a course of action that resembles what Paul referred to here last night as “a double defeat.”
Also in the new issue and based on the author’s personal experience is Michael Yon’s article criticizing the military’s management of coverage of the war. Yon declares that “it is time for a public accounting,” and he powerfully renders it.