Add to My Yahoo!

NYT: Can James Baker be Bush's 'silver bullet' in Iraq?

Published: Sunday April 23, 2006

Print This | Email This

Last month's "quiet designation" of ex-Secretary of State James Baker to lead a congressionally mandated bi-partisan, fact-finding mission in Iraq may signify a new "willingness" by the Bush Administration "to admit that it needs help in weighing its options and generating public support," according to an article set for Monday's New York Times.

According to the Times, "People close to the Iraq Study Group say that it is unlikely to recommend a quick withdrawal from Iraq but that it could recommend efforts to involve the United Nations or troops from neighboring Muslim countries in securing the area."

Although the Times article notes that Baker hasn't had a "close relationship" with President Bush, as he did with Bush Sr. whose Administration he served in, "[p]eople close to Baker say that he was extremely concerned about being seen as second-guessing President George W. Bush's foreign policy aides and made certain of getting approval from the president in person before he took on the job."

Excerpts from the article written by Steven R. Weisman:


Baker, a longtime confidant of President George H.W. Bush who has maintained a close but complicated relationship with the current president, plans to travel to Baghdad and the region to meet with heads of state on a fact-finding mission that officials say was encouraged by both father and son and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

"If you had a health problem, you'd want somebody to give you a second opinion," said Representative Frank Wolf, an influential Virginia Republican who helped recruit Baker for the job. "What the United States needs on Iraq is some fresh ideas from people able to speak out, and no one is more qualified to do that than Jim Baker."


The options that might be available at a time of rapid developments in Iraq, including the moves Saturday toward establishing the country's first permanent post-invasion government, are unclear. An official involved in enlisting Baker, who was granted anonymity because Baker has asked all those associated with the effort not to speak to the news media, said it would be a mistake to think that Baker could find "a silver bullet" to help the administration.

"How Baker comes at this will be crucial," the official said. "He's a very shrewd fellow who doesn't want to be window dressing. He could come up with nothing or it could be a very big deal. To my mind, Dean Acheson and Lyndon Johnson is the model."