Bush may find he is a President out of the loop..

While both the President and the Democrats have promised to seek new approaches on Iraq, pundits have noted that new approaches may just not be available. In particular, they say not to expect something new to be discovered by the Baker commission. But, the Baker mandate (report due at the end of the year) may have been greatly underestimated and deeply misunderstood.
The Republicans that Pelosi “finds common ground” with could be a lot less Bush and a lot more Baker–and she may find that most Congressional Republicans have gravitated there too. Baker himself may have been waiting for the election to provide him with new partners.
So, are the Baker Boys really just out there holding seminars, brainstorming Fresh Ideas, and intensely cogitating? More likely they are actively checking out what can be arranged–going over Bush’s head, preparing, almost pre-negotiating, a new foreign policy for the entire Mid-East.

It is hard to solve any one Mid-East problem without solving all of them. The postures of Syria and Iran will change fundamentally on all issues if Baker is ready to normalize relations and renounce subversion and Regime Change. The help we seek in Lebanon and Palestine may only be possible for them if we can bring Israel to deliver a breakthrough on the West Bank. If Hamas and Hezbollah lost their regional leverage (and Syria recovered the Golan Heights), a real two-state peace could follow, and from that many other lines of cleavage in the Mid-East would close up. If the US reigned in the Kurds, that would also make a lot of friends.
Who knows if Baker can pull it off, where so many and so much have failed? But regardless of that, Bush–at least the Bush we know–may find he is a President out of the loop. He made a perverse point before the election of shooting down every then reported Baker initiative in advance. But Baker is acting on behalf of the broad Bush-appalled military, foreign policy, and corporate establishment. He smiled and waited, but the rangy little president is in for a surprise.



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