Why the Baker / Carlyle / Iraq / Kuwait story is a short-term dud

Answer. In one word, nuance.

I just finished reading Naomi Klein’s piece The Double Life of James Baker in The Nation as well as the mini-copycat version produced by Lisa Myers (NBC ‘Investigative’ Unit) Influence peddling charged over Iraq’s debt. The allegations in this story are astounding and I am not suggesting that it will disappear or somehow fall apart under scrutiny. Ms. Klein seems to have more than passed the scrutiny test, but any way you cut this it stinks. Baker, Carlyle, and this administration have some serious ‘splainin to do. My problem with this story is this, I don’t consider myself short on intellect but after having read both stories and watched Amy Goodman interview Ms. Klein for 20 plus minutes it still is a complicated story to understand with way too much nuance. And if there is one the U.S. news media hates it’s nuance, just ask Senator Kerry. For this reason I don’t expect this story to really break out in the media for another month or so, only after we have decided who will be running this country for the next four years.

This is my take which I am sure is missing something. James Baker, working for the administration, is running around the Middle East trying to convince everyone to forgive the enormous debt owed to them by Iraq. Kuwait, holding the largest chunk of this debt stands to lose a tanker-load of cash if this happens. A consortium headed by The Carlyle Group, who also employs James Baker, is using this situation to threaten Kuwait into taking a deal that will save $57 billion of this debt but only by after transferring $2 billion to the consortium for investment — $1 billion of which goes directly to Carlyle. Bottom line, this is an icky, slimy conflict of interest on behalf of the administration, Carlyle and Baker. If anyone reading this would like to read over the stories and take a crack and drawing out a nice little chart which can follow-the-money it would be greatly appreciated.

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