Friday, July 25, 2003

Baker to Iraq?

Kevin Drum is understandably confused about the story today that Jim Baker might be heading to Iraq:
I was mulling over this story during lunch, trying to figure out what it means, and I'm having a hard time. Baker is obviously a very senior guy, he has lots of international experience, and he's practically the Bush family consigliore, so in some way it makes sense that he might be chosen to head up Iraq. The problem is, he's not being chosen to head up Iraq. He's being chosen for a very specific role: "physical and economic reconstruction." As far as I know, Baker has no expertise in this area at all, so it's hard to see what he brings to the table. Wouldn't a better choice be some high profile executive who's actually had a lot of experience bossing big infrastructure projects? Or maybe a Wall Street economic guru? The only thing I can figure out that's unique to Baker is that he's completely loyal to the Bushes. There must be something about Bremer that Bush doesn't like, so he wants to get somebody over there that he completely trusts, someone that he knows won't be pursuing an agenda of his own. That's the best I can come up with at the moment anyway. Unless, of course, Bremer is just completely screwing things up and Bush is getting set to throw him overboard.
It seems pretty obvious to me what is going on: 1) Bremer is yet another failed administrator (the 2nd one so far) 2) The Bushies don't want to admit this because it will be yet another blow to their prestige at a time when they definitely don't need it. 3) The Bushies don't want Iraq to continue to fall apart because that ALSO would be a blow to their prestige. So.... 4) Send in Baker under a title that appears to have little real power, but put him in charge behind the scenes and retain Bremer as a figure head. They avoid having to admit another failure while getting a REAL fixer in there. Of course, Iraq might be a little harder to fix then Florida.

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