FREE hit counter and Internet traffic statistics from freestats.com
(DV) Zingh: The Iraq Study Group Study Group







The Iraq Study Group Study Group 
by Zbignew Zingh
December 12, 2006

Send this page to a friend! (click here)


The Iraq Study Group Study Group (ISGSG), a shadowy organization of indeterminate number (to wit, this author and those who frequent this web site) was created to reflect and comment on the better known Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group (ISG). The ISGSG has now released its own report. President Bush, upon reviewing an advance copy of the ISGSG's white paper mumbled something to the effect that it was “very interesting” before filing it in the same cylindrical file with the Baker-Hamilton report.


Once stripped of its tepid criticisms, the Baker-Hamilton ISG report looks like an attempt to stuff the evil genie of Mr. Bush's policies back into the bottle of a more subtle Bismarck-Metternich style of empire. Mr. Baker and his groupies clearly are nostalgic for the day when his class of people could achieve dominance while keeping up the pretenses of goodness and democracy for public consumption. They recoil from the blunt, naked aggression of the Bush Administration which Mr. Baker et. al. equate with the boorish behavior of crass amateurs and thugs. Baker et. al. prefer the more nuanced, more subtle exercise of power, like the true aristocrats they are, who keep their white gloves clean while the blood is spilled off-stage and out-of-sight by covert military operations.


Notwithstanding its atavistic longing for a less messy empire, the Baker ISG should be congratulated for concluding (as so many of us hoi polloi concluded several years ago) that the Bush Administration foreign policy has been an unmitigated disaster. In fact, Mr. Bush has done such a swell job enervating the American military, undermining the dollar as the world's reserve currency, eviscerating the economy and totally demythologizing the mythology of America that one might conclude that W is the last century Kremlin's ultimate deep mole. And since we have mentioned the Kremlin, the Baker “old guard” undoubtedly sees the specter of déjà vu haunting an arrogant BushAmerica that is emulating the old Soviet empire's meltdown while permitting South America to escape from neoliberalism's orbit.


Although we of the The Iraq Study Group Study Group ultimately found little that was novel or insightful in the ISG report, we congratulate Mr. Baker and his colleagues for exposing definite fault lines within the international ruling cabal. For days after the release of the Baker-Hamilton report it was very pleasing to read conservative political pundits dissing Mr. Baker's ISG as “muddled”, irresponsible and unbalanced. Indeed, one such conservative columnist castigated the public disclosure of the Baker-Hamilton report that, in the esteemed pundit's opinion, should have been kept absolutely secret and accessible only to the inner circle of policymakers -- quite consistent, of course, with aristocratic notions of “democracy” and government transparency.


Dissension within the ownership class?


We take it as a given that the so-called “left” is not monolithic. Although most of its constituents generally want “change”, the quality, degree, nature and means of attaining that change leads to disorientation (such as backing the Democratic Party of the Status Quo as the perpetual lesser of two evils). The left's inherent disunity, caused as much by a lack of historical perspective, the absence of a unifying theoretical vision, as well as by government infiltration, co-option and misdirection, is often mischaracterized by eternal optimists as a political “strength”. Although non-hierarchical, leaderless, multi-strategy movements can be profound and resilient, political discordance is a weakness. The peace movement's inefficacy proves itself in a century-long succession of failed efforts to stop the beginning of one new war after another. It is the hubris of well-meaning American peace activists (most of whose hearts are in the right place even though their vision might be myopic) that they do not appreciate how an endless succession of invisible, economically insignificant, officially-sanctioned “weekend” demonstrations along with endless letters to tone deaf editors, interminable law suits creeping ineffectively toward a conservative Supreme Court, and email petitions to privately owned legislators are not the primary engines of fundamental social or political change.

Alas, America's disgust with the Iraq War (as manifest in the November electoral unsaddling of the Republican House and Senate) was based less on the immorality of the enterprise and more on the ineptitude of its execution. Americans, like the rest of the world, hate losers, and, as experience shows, people quickly sour on athletes, sports teams, coaches, presidents, congressmen and political parties when they fail to deliver the goods.

The terrible truth is that but for the Iraqi people's determination and willingness to bleed to free their land of occupation (much like the determination showed by the Vietnamese people during their bloody war of independence), the peace movement would have gained no traction in the United States; for it is the dead and horribly maimed American soldiers, wreaked upon us by the Iraqis themselves, who gave our sickened nation and the peace movement the impetus to tell Congress to change, not stay the course. It was not the surfeit of lies or torture that undid the Republican Congress; rather, America's citizens would have readily feted their petroleum conquering troops, dishonesty, torture and unconstitutionality notwithstanding, had only they been able to grab the prize as easily and as cheaply as we have ripped off everyone else in Africa, Asia, North and South America in the past. The salutary result of the November 2006 election, regardless of motivation, was that the electorate registered a strong disgust for the status quo, which disgust is also shared by the Baker-Hamiltons of the right-wing world, ergo their “report” to the President.


However, fortunately for what is “left” of us, the Baker-Hamilton ISG demonstrated that the “right” is also no more monolithic than the “left.” Like the “left,” the “right” also suffers from a lack of historical perspective and the absence of a unifying theoretical vision (other than the capitalist mantra of screw everyone else before they screw you).


The ownership class worldwide rarely concerns itself with such trivial notions as “nationality”, and those who have power and wealth -- regardless of race, religion, citizenship or ethnicity -- easily identify, support and associate with one another no matter what passports they bear. Nevertheless, the center of gravity of that ownership class lies indubitably in the United States, if for no other reason than here lies control over that final arbiter of power: overwhelming military might and nuclear weapons.


Thus, political and economic control of the United States is essential to the maintenance of a certain world order, and therein lie the fissure lines highlighted by Mr. Baker's ISG. To maintain that control in a world increasingly destabilized by dramatic and impending climate change and diminishing resources of all kinds (including, and especially, hydrocarbon fuel stocks), the ownership class in America joined a marriage of convenience, a ménage a trois, between the Old Power represented by Mr. Baker, the so-called Neoconservatives and the Christian Right. Luckily for us all, this is a loveless marriage and they are likely to eat their own children.

Who is the Iraq Study Group? Its chair is James Baker, former Secretary of State under Bush I, Secretary of the Treasury under Ronald Reagan, partner at the Baker Botts law firm (attorneys for the government of Saudi Arabia), past campaign chair for Presidents Ford, Reagan and Bush, and senior counsel to the Carlyle Group. Mr. Baker is the finest representative of that class of skilled “enablers” who facilitate the aims of those who own nearly everything.

The co-chair of the ISG, Lee Hamilton, is a retired senior congressman who has presided over many interesting organizations including the 911 Commission, the CIA and Homeland Security Advisory Council, and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. While serving on the committee investigating the unlawful Iran-Contra Weapons scandal, Mr. Hamilton chose not to seek impeachment for either Ronald Reagan or George H. Bush. Mr. Hamilton is a true conciliator who has no qualms sacrificing truth on the alter of consensus building.


Other members of the ISG include:


Lawrence Eagleburger, assistant to National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger during the Nixon presidency, a careerist in the “State Department”, and someone who is noted for rather controversial stints as ambassador to the former Yugoslavia and the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims;


Edwin Meese, Yale University graduate, past Attorney General under Ronald Reagan, murky involvement with the Iran-Contra affair, Fellow of the Heritage and the Discovery Institute (the folks who advocate for “intelligent design” as an alternative theory of evolution);


Vernon Jordan, friend of both John Kerry and Bill Clinton, a past president of the National Urban League, noteworthy as a director of the investment bank Lazard Freres, who either sits, or has sat on, the board of directors of American Express, Dow Jones, Revlon, Corning, RJR Nabisco, and Xerox.


William Perry, a high tech specialist with a PhD. D. in mathematics; Bill Clinton's Secretary of Defense; currently serves on the Board of Directors of Los Alamos National Laboratory and co-directs the “Preventive Defense Project at the Stanford University Center for International Security and Cooperation”;

Alan Simpson, former U.S. Senator from Wyoming and Senate Republican Whip for ten years; friend of Bush I and fellow Wyoming political prodigy, Dick Cheney.


Charles Robb, former conservative Democratic Governor and Senator of Virginia, past chair of the Iraq Intelligence Commission, co-founder of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), married Lynda Bird Johnson, successfully dodged at least one sex and one drug related scandal, voted (as a Democrat) for the Supreme Court appointment of Clarence Thomas and for Newt Gingrich's Contract for America, past member of the Trilateral Commission and current member of George Bush's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.


Leon Panetta, initially a moderate Republican who served in the Nixon Administration, Panetta later became counsel for the NAACP; then, as a Democrat, was elected for nine terms as U.S. Congressman; Bill Clinton's Director of OMB and, later, Chief of Staff; Director and Founder of the Panetta Institute for Public Policy.


Sandra Day O'Connor, first woman on the U.S. Supreme Court (appointed by Ronald Reagan), wanted to retire during a Republican administration that could appoint her successor and was reportedly upset in 2000 when she heard, prior to the Supreme Court's intercession halting the Florida recount, that Al Gore had been elected instead of George Bush.


Two other people had been appointed to the ISG, but they resigned before it issued its report: the cantankerous presidential aspirant and former NYC Mayor Rudi Giuliani, of 911 era fame/notoriety and self-idolizing Super Hero Crime Fighter; and Robert Gates, former Director of the CIA under Bush I and just appointed as Bush II's Secretary of Defense.


Mr. Baker's Study Group is, indeed, “blue ribbon” and “blue blood.” This is a very elite little circle that tends to associate with or serve the interests of power and money. The core of the ISG (that is, its Republican majority) have rubbed shoulders with or served clients like Saudi princes, Carlyle Group types, the European old guard, investment moguls, oil men, men of high finance, the cream of Club Society. The other members of the ISG are compromisers concerned more with preserving institutions than ideals. The core ISG are pragmatists; they do not care what nation beats up on which other nation, who lives or dies, so long as, at the end of the day, they, the institutions they represent, or their clients have benefited and come out ahead. They currently work, or have worked in the past, with the new royals, the 21st Century Bourbons and Hapsburgs, the robber barons of our time.


That is why the Baker ISG plan does not contemplate completely withdrawing American soldiers, but drawing them down slightly and consolidating the remainder in supposedly impregnable fortresses from which military power over the entire region can be exercised. Consistent with the ISG members' own government experiences from the last decades of the 20th Century, the Baker plan does not rule out an El Salvador “solution” -- a bloody, U.S. induced civil war that will cause Muslim to kill Muslim for decades, and thus forestall the evolution of a strong Shi'a regime in Iraq -- the nightmare of the House of Saud, the House of Mubarak, the House of Jordan's King Abdullah, and of Bahrain, Kuwait, Pakistan, Algeria and all other western supported autocracies.

The pragmatic, economic perspective of the Baker ISG is also manifest in its emphasis on, once and for all, privatizing Iraq's petroleum reserves and serving them up to the western oil cartel to sell and distribute as it sees fit. In other words, the Baker ISG plan calls for seizing the ultimate prize that has eluded the Bush Administration. Mr. Baker's clients, the Saudis, also approve this plan because they, like the other despotic clans propped up by the U.S. in that part of the world, will not tolerate the creation of a new Shi'a competitor that could dwarf Saudi Arabia's own oil production and world economic significance.

The Neoconservatives, by contrast, are clearly concerned with rearranging the Middle East map, primarily as it benefits Israel. These people are not as well heeled as is Mr. Baker's society. These are the folks whose primary interest is the complete dismantling of “dangerous” states like Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Iran, the nations of the Saudi peninsula and of North Africa having been already neutered. They do not want to talk to Iran or Syria about anything, except total capitulation. They wish the United States to remain engaged in literal confrontation with Arabs and Muslims everywhere because they want Americans to share with Israel a “comradeship of enmity” against a “hostile” Middle East, i.e., the enemy of my enemies is my friend. Although the Neoconservatives, too, lay claim to Iraqi oil, their primary objective is security for Greater Israel, no matter what the cost to anyone else. The Neoconservatives consider a strong Israel as essential to the projection of American power in the Middle East, and a perpetual confrontation of America with the Muslim world as essential to preserving a strong Israel.

If anything, the message of the November election to the Neoconservatives is that their agenda is in jeopardy because the Baker brand of geopolitics shares interests with the Saudis and with other regional Arab autocrats. Mr. Baker and his clients care less for Greater Israel than they do for the maintenance of their own clans' dominance and power. Several Neoconservatives have been shown the exit door during the preceding year, which probably adds a sense of urgency to their mission, as expressed by the stridency of their reactions to the ISG report.


The third member of the political marriage of convenience is the so-called Christian Right. Disdained as loonies by its two other political bedfellows, the Christian Right is, indeed, crazy. The Christian Right has no blue blood at all and it does not play well with either the Baker crowd or the Neoconservatives. It literally seeks to establish a Christian theocracy, not only in the United States but everywhere on earth. Its peculiarly twisted version of muscular Christianity most closely resembles the Christianity of the Crusades or of the Spanish Conquistadors... or, for that matter, radical Islam. The ownership class and the Neoconservatives thinly camouflage their disgust for the Christian Right, a group they believe is both ignorant and insane, but which they must tolerate solely because (until such time as electronic vote fraud can be perfected) they have (at least until November 2006) provided the margin of votes necessary to solidify the political power of the other two. The two camps of Israeli zealots -- ultraconservative Christians and Neoconservatives -- can barely conceal their mutual loathing while each imagines ascending to its respective gated paradise (national or divine) while treading on the body of the other.

A fourth group, not formally sleeping with the oddly-married trio but hovering all around them like a jealous lover, is the American security establishment. This group encompasses both the Pentagon and the CIA, who fancy themselves the ultimate protectors of American culture and sovereignty (as defined by themselves, of course). Since its creation at the beginning of the Cold War, the CIA has operated fast and loose with government controls, as the peculiar circumstances of the Bay of Pigs, the Kennedy assassinations and the Iran-Contra affair attest. The CIA underwent a palace coup of sorts upon the inauguration of George W. Bush as its senior analysts were booted out to be replaced with Administration toadies. The “professionals” who remain in Langley, and those who were tossed into the street, hold no fondness for the current Administration and itch for the opportunity to take it down a notch.


The American military brass, like professional military men in every country, absolutely loathe civilians and their “weaknesses.” They despise even more the arm chair generals like Mr. Rumsfeld who have squandered military assets in pursuit of a rearranged “Muddle East.” The generals are every bit as crazy as the Christian Right, but these folks are also armed. Their hubris is symbolized in the U.S. by the Oliver North types, of Iran Contra notoriety, and abroad by the unlamented dictator created by Henry Kissinger, Augusto Pinochet of Chile. As a class, the Pentagon crowd has been aching to avenge the loss of the Vietnam War and now they have another military fiasco to redeem, as well. As people know who have spent any time around career military officers, these folks are bitterly convinced that “they” and “their soldiers” suffer, fight and die while the “civilians” reap the profits. This combination of disgruntlement and ultimate power is toxic, and even though the United States has not yet experienced a military coup d'etat, it is the fear of an unbridled military which caused many founders of the original United States to inveigh against creating a standing, professional army.


All these factions -- the Baker old guard, the Neoconservatives, the Christian Right and the Security Establishment -- are now vying for control as the Bush Administration sinks deeper into failure. Although some of their goals are similar, nothing sharpens fratricidal tendencies like a lifeboat too small to hold everyone aboard the sinking ship.


The ISG report, tepid though it is, is a sign of the widening differences among these groups. Already, the Christian conservatives chafe at the too few bones they believe were thrown to them during the Bush years, and the Bushmen mutter derisory comments about their religious bedmates' mental equilibrium. The military is sullen and prone to leak embarrassing news. The Neocons try to salvage their new map of the Muddle East in Israel's image, while Baker & Co., perhaps pining for the simpler, despotic days of Their Man, Saddam Hussein, try to rebuild Humpty Dumpty status quo ante bellum.


We in the Iraq Study Group Study Group profoundly regret that these squabbling lovers have inflicted such horror and misery on the world. But if the ISG report augers correctly, this squabbling could soon end up with a political separation. We look forward to an ugly divorce.


Zbignew Zingh can be reached at: Zbig@ersarts.com. This article is CopyLeft, and free to distribute, reprint, repost, sing at a recital, spray paint, scribble in a toilet stall, etc. to your heart’s content, with proper author citation. Find out more about Copyleft and read other great articles at: www.ersarts.com. copyleft 2006.

Other Articles by Zbignew Zingh

* Zamole Zingh: One Size Fits All Universal Politician for Every Office
* Ask Not For Whom the Wall is Built (It's Built For You)
* Halloween Without End
* Will Pakistan's Musharraf Have His Ears Trimmed by the Bush Administration?
* Plan C -- The People's Morning-After-the-Elections Contraception
* Snakes On a Plane, Bush in the White House
* Prepare Your Stakes and Fires
* How the Left Repeatedly Gets the Wind Knocked Out of Its Causes
* The Daze of the Living Dead
* Garden Variety Politics
* The Subsurface World of Inflation, Cannibalism and the Plight of the Squeezees
* Cracks in the Coalition of the Crackpots
* Dear George... Have I Told You How Much I Appreciate You?
* Facilitating Fascism
* Detroit Dialectic: The Irony of the Super Bowl in a Supercilious Nation
* The Nuclear “Threat” At the End of the Age of Petroleum
* Roberts' Rules of Order
* Project for the New American Colonies (A Neoconned American Revolution)
* Pat Robertson's Fatwah and the Emergence of Medieval America
* The Neocon Cookbook: Savory Recipes for the Power Hungry by the Power Elite
* President Bush Supports Alternative Fuels Research Instead of Conservation
* Bush Wants Answers: Did Chavez, Castro and Bin Laden Lead Embassy Siege in Iran?
* The University's Biocontainment Lab: Coming to a Neighborhood Near You!
* The Convergence
* The Political Descent of Mankind
* Soviets “R” US
* November Strategy
* New Dogs for the New American Century
* Vive la Difference
* Dennis, We Hardly Knew You
* The 2004 Political All-Star Game
* George Bush, Destroyer of the Faith
* Zbignew's Inferno
* The Statue of Liberty is Missing
* Monuments To The New American Century
* What Are We Trying To Achieve?
* Bush Administration Relents: American Style Elections Promised for Iraq
* E.U. Researchers Publish Findings of Widespread Mad Cow Infection
* The Declassified Ads

The Frankencandidate