.... The rejection of Kanter is a compound rejection of Scowcroft and James Baker -- the tough, cunning, results-oriented operator who as White House chief of staff saved the Reagan presidency from its ideologues, managed the elder Bush's successful campaign in 1988, and was summoned by the family in 2000 to rescue George W. in Florida. When all else failed (the voters, for example), Baker arranged the outcome that put Bush in the Oval Office. In the 1995 memoir of his years as secretary of treasury and state, Baker observed that in the Gulf War the administration's 'one overriding strategic concern was to avoid what we often referred to as the Lebanonization of Iraq, which we believed would create a geopolitical nightmare.' In private, Baker is scathing about the current occupant of the White House, people who have spoken with him have recently related to me. Now the one indispensable creator of the Bush family political fortunes is repudiated.
Those Republican elders who warned of endless war are purged. And those who advised Bush that Saddam was building nuclear weapons, that with a light military force the operation would be a 'cakewalk,' that capturing Baghdad was a 'mission accomplished,' and that the Iraqi army should be disbanded, are rewarded.
Powell, the outgoing secretary of state fighting his last battle, a rearguard action against his own administration on behalf of his tattered reputation, is leaking stories to the Washington Post about how his advice went unheeded. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, whose heart beats with the compassion of a crocodile, clings to his job by staging Florence Nightingale-like tableaux of hand-holding the wounded, while declaiming into the desert wind about 'victory.' Since the election, 203 U.S. soldiers have been killed and 1,674 wounded.
There is no James Baker to save us from an ideologue president. We are into the abyss.
I'm left to hope Bush really can alter reality through sheer force of will. Meanwhile the rest of the world has to start taking adaptive action.
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