Rumsfeld's replacement, a protege of Bush Sr, brings some hope of an an exit strategy for Iraq
A GOOD ANALYSIS
By Jonathan Freedland
Friday November 10, 2006
"From now on, the neoconservatives will have to give way to the foreign policy "realists" - those who believe America projects itself best in the world partly through force but also through the patient, pragmatic work of alliances and diplomacy. So out goes Rummy and in comes Robert Gates, a former CIA chief and protege of the first George Bush who, along with his former secretary of state, James Baker, is the living embodiment of the realist school.
This makes the latest move psychologically compelling. It's as if the prodigal boy prince, having learned the error of his ways, has been forced to return to the wisdom of his aged, kingly father. When he was in his pomp, when he still believed the war in Iraq was a mission accomplished, Bush was asked by Bob Woodward if he had consulted Bush Sr on the conflict. "You know, he is the wrong father to appeal to in terms of strength," the president said. "There is a higher father that I appeal to."
The politics is even more fascinating than the psychology. For Gates has been serving on the Iraq Study Group, the commission co-chaired by Baker. It was Baker who commended Gates to Bush Jr, who pointedly did not interview any other candidates for the Pentagon job. This makes it impossible to imagine the administration doing anything but endorsing the Baker recommendations when they surface next January. How could the new defence secretary reject proposals he helped draft?
Gates's appointment signals a marked change in direction, confirmation that the Baker report will not just be a worthy tome destined to collect dust on a shelf, but a near-official statement of America's exit strategy.
Baker via Gates could solve that problem, providing an answer that all of Washington can rally around. And Dick Cheney will just have to lump it."