Dec 7, 2006

[US Politics] The Start of Something Big

In the past few days, we've seen a lot of interesting changes over at the old White House - many of them more than welcome, on my part, in these rather challenging times for the Bush administration.

Image Source: Reuters through on my little list is the resignation of John Bolton, the somewhat controversial US ambassador to the UN. Opinions are flying left and right that his resignation was a way for him to preempt non-confirmation next year when the Democrats assume the House and the Senate. I for one have to agree with that perception - both Democrats and some Republicans were up in arms when he was nominated and it was only through a Recess Appointment by President Bush. Of course it's now also reported that Bush was very reluctant in accepting his resignation, but then again never did know when to back down and just stop sticking to his guns like the silly little cowboy he tends to be.

Image Source: AP Photo/J.Scott Applewhite via one person leaving, another came in as the Senate rather quickly confirmed the appointment of Robert Gates as the new Secretary of Defense, filling up the post left empty by the departure of Donald Rumsfeld. What made Gates a shoe-in for the Democrats is just how far he is from the warped perceptions of the Administration by being bold enough to admit that the US was not winning the war in Iraq and generally taking a stance worlds away from the usual "stay the course" garbage we'd hear from everyone in the Bush cabinet. Perhaps he's the kind of fresh face that needs to become involved in this conflict since more and more and political solution appears to be needed more than a military one. Of course, that'll mean getting the full support of the House, one that will be under Democrat control come next year. Thus, Gates was confirmed pretty much just a day after the Senate committee interviewed him.

Of course the biggest news item of the day is the release of the Iraq Study Group Report, also known as the Baker Report (download the report via The report details the findings of the independent bi-partisan committee led by former Secretary of Defense James Baker III and former Democratic congressman Lee H. Hamilton.

The report doesn't discuss anything we didn't know already - that there need to be drastic changes in the US foreign policy in Iraq, that the situation is getting more and more dangerous and that the US needed an exit strategy and that the way out of Iraq was through talking with nearby countries like Iran and Syria along with other more specific recommendations. The report alone is nothing without actual action seen coming from the Oval Office, a duty that remains with George W. Bush. Who knows how he's going to receive the report since he's been pretty clear in recent days to put disclaimers left and right how the Baker Report was ultimately just a list of suggestions and that the White House would be the one to make a final decision in Iraq.

But given the other changes so far and the many more we all know are coming just around the corner, can the President afford to continue to "stay the course"? Or will he find the guts to admit the error of his ways and start working together with the Democratic Senate and House of Representatives? Only time can truly tell.

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