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December 13, 2003

Mr. Baker's sleighride

Posted by Phil on December 13, 2003 9:31 AM

Yesterday, Billmon, with help from Josh Marshall, looped together an interesting analysis of what's at stake with Jim Baker's new mission. (If Baker's going to keep popping up like this, they should get him a wacky sidekick, like a Wayans brother, or Martin Lawrence. America loves his scabrous hijinks! Or Bush himself could go along, "to learn something," like Dudley Moore and John Gielgud in Arthur. Remember Arthur? It was about a rich, drunk idiot-boy and his stuffy old butler who fixed everything for him.)

Anyway, Billmon outlines just how unsettling the problem of Iraqi debt relief is, for Bush in the short term and America in the long, and how the Pentagon's clumsy diplomatic co-inky-dink ("No soup for you!") just as Baker went wheels-up for Europe, and Bush's typically macho, brain-dead defense of it, was really, you know, not good. (No snips, but edited a bit for brevity.)

[A]s the internationally recognized occupier of Iraq, the United States has assumed legal responsibility for the country's debts, all $150 billion or so of them. Presumably, the Bushies will seek to offload those obligations onto whatever sovereign Iraqi regime they can cobble together between now and next July.

But how easily can that be done? What exactly is the mechanism for "un-occupying" a country? [P]resumably, a new Iraqi government would have to be recognized as sovereign under international law before the debt burden of the old government could be returned to it.

Who would provide that recognition? The U.N. Security Council? And if that's the case, the question arises: Will the creditor nations represented on the council -- France, Russia, perhaps others -- be willing to vote for recognition, thereby transferring their financial claims from the very deep pockets of the U.S. Treasury to a feeble American puppet regime beset on all sides by violence and political intrigue?

No wonder Shrub wanted to call his lawyer.

Yeah. And it's so colorfully "down-home" when the president mocks the very idea of international law. You could see yourself having a beer with a guy like that. In fact, there's probably a lot of guys like that having a beer right now.


In the movie "The Way of the Gun," James Caan plays an old mafia bag man. There's a kick-ass gun fight where all these old bag men turn up wearing Members Only jackets with their guts hanging out over sansabelt slacks.

Just before the fight starts, one of the main characters looks out a window to see them all coming and says "Shit... bag men."

Whenever Baker turns up, I think the same thing.

Posted by: mph at December 13, 2003 10:52 PM