Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Brzezinski Weighs in on Middle East

It's been somewhat customary for several decades for foreign policy consultants to speak softly in public about current situations and to speak bluntly behind closed doors; this tactic is used to maintain access no matter which party is in power. It's a rule that's broken from time to time at selective moments to catch the attention of an administration digging a hole for itself. We have apparently gone beyond that point. Increasingly, Zbigniew Brzezinski is speaking bluntly as Bush's foreign policy falls apart. Steve Clemons of The Washington Note summarizes a recent talk where Brzezinski gave his views:
Some of the notable points made by Brzezinski were:
1. America's "policy in the Middle East is the basic test of America's capacity to exercise global leadership." This is similar to "what transpired during the Cold War when the ultimate test of America's capacity to act as a defender of the free world was its ability to conduct a meaningful policy in Europe."

If America does not do well in its Middle East challenge, the U.S. will lose its capacity to lead.

2. Neither the United States nor Israel "has the capacity to impose a unilateral solution" to Israel's problems in the Middle East. "There may be people who deceive themselves of that. We call them neo-cons in this country and there are other equivalents in Israel as well."

3. Israel and its neighbors alone "can never resolve their conflict peacefully, no matter how much they try, now matter how sincere they may be." When one party is sincere, the other's intentions are not synchronous.

(snip)

6. It's becoming increasingly difficult to separate the Israeli-Palestinian, problem, the Iraq problem and Iran from each other.

7. "The Iraq problem, look what Prime Minister al-Maliki said today -- it's an indication of things to come. The notion that we're going to get a pliant, democratic, stable, pro-American, Israel-loving Iraq is a myth which is rapidly eroding and which is now being contradicted by political realities."

8. "And that leads me then to the proposition beforehand, namely that we have now, we're not only committed to what I said earlier, regarding the Israeli-Palestinian process, but more deliberately by terminating our involvement in Iraq. And I have put forth a four-point program which [I am sure] I have discussed in one of the rare occasions within the last year administration has talked to me, some top level people in the administration. They listened to this:

That we start talking to the Iraqis of the day of our disengagement., We say to them we want to set it jointly, but in the process, indicate to them that we will not leave precipitously. I asked Khalilzad what would be his definition of precipitous and he said four months and I said I agree. Are you saying to the Iraqis, we intend to disengage by some period? We need to."

More was said. One of the advantages of being outside of government is that it's possible to speak bluntly. Americans will not hear this kind of talk from any administration figure or any Republican member of Congress. Keep in mind that the most important point is the first. There's a question, given all the blunders of the Bush Administration, about whether the United States is still capable of leading in world affairs. There is also a risk that, willingly or not, Bush is being dragged along by events and that is not good for us nor for anyone else in the world.

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