Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Strange Dr. Kissinger Clarifies Position on Iraq (I think)

If we discount the people who have worked for George W. Bush in the last five years, most of the major foreign policy experts who are still around generally agree that Iraq is a fiasco. A number of these experts, Carter's national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski for example, will tell you that Iraq represents a strategic failure and that it is time to wind it down. The one strange holdout has been Henry Kissinger who apparently has been advising President Bush in private. If we are to believe the latest, Kissinger is no longer quite on the same page as junior (hat tip to The Washington Note (and my alert wife who heard it first on TV)); here's the story from the AP:
Military victory is no longer possible in Iraq, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said in a television interview broadcast Sunday.

Kissinger presented a bleak vision of Iraq, saying the U.S. government must enter into dialogue with Iraq's regional neighbors —including Iran—if progress is to be made in the region.

"If you mean by 'military victory' an Iraqi government that can be established and whose writ runs across the whole country, that gets the civil war under control and sectarian violence under control in a time period that the political processes of the democracies will support, I don't believe that is possible," he told the British Broadcasting Corp.

In the Reagan and Bush I years, James Baker could be... persuasive. Maybe Kissinger has had another hard look. Or perhaps someone from the Iraq Study Group has suggested that it's time for him to be on the same page. It's interesting to note that the interview took place on the BBC. That's several times now that prominent foreign policy figures who at last disagree with Bush have first made their views known to news organizations based outside our country. I remember when Colin Powell did it. We'll know in the next few weeks what all this means, if anything. At this point, it appears only discredited neoconservatives buy into the Bush/Cheney Iraq agenda and some of their face-saving posturing. Keep in mind that Bush and Cheney are still dangerous. With these two, nothing is completely off the table.

Longtime foreign policy and terrorist expert, Richard A. Clarke has an article out in The New Republic that discusses ways to disengage from Iraq and points out some flaws in the counterarguments made by Bush's advisers and media supporters. He ends with a straightforward summary of the real problem that exists at the moment:
Are there problems with this plan? Of course. But our current approach—maintaining that we can fix Iraq if we just try a bit harder—is likely more seriously flawed and more costly than the alternative. Still, President Bush insists on staying in Iraq, and it is easy to understand why. In "The March of Folly," Barbara Tuchman documented repeated instances when leaders persisted in disastrous policies well after they knew that success was no longer an available outcome. They did so because the personal consequences of admitting failure would be very high. So they postponed the disastrous end to their policy adventures, hoping for a deux ex machina or to eventually shift the blame.

There is no need to do that now. Everyone already knows who is to blame. It is time to stop the adventure, lower our sights, and focus on America's core interests. And that means withdrawal of major combat units.

Although the United States is the most powerful country in the world, we cannot afford to indulge the face saving vanity of the president and vice president. It's time to bring the games to a close and end a chapter in our nation's history.

P.S. I'll comment on Sy Hersh's article in The New Yorker tomorrow; he discusses the possibility of an attack on Iran.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that i am with Kissinger, and for several resons. first i think that we need to look at why we should and shouldn't stay. If you really think about it, we have to stay, we are still training the Iraqi forces to stand on their own two feet. if we leave now, those forces will be no match for the remaining terrorist factions still imbedded in that region. on that line, we have to do what the Iraqi's can't until they are trained and equiped enough to do so themselves. there is also the fact of oil, if we leave now we will loose control of all that oil, and without it, we are going to be in deep trouble. So basicaly, if we want that oil, we have to stay for a little while longer. even if we do leave, we will still have to go back. the tention between Iran and Iraq is increasing, and the US, basicaly being the world's police force, will have to go back anyway to break it up.

12:48 PM  
Anonymous Craig said...

Anonymous, thanks for the comments. Something to keep in mind is that Bush is continuing to put pressure on Iran in ways that are not likely to be successful without a serious and major diplomatic effort (beyond PR gestures, that is). In fact, elements within the Bush Administration seem to be pushing for war with Iran and are getting support from neocons and other right wing Republicans. A war with Iran will cause the total worldwide production of oil to drop and we will see a considerable jump in prices at the pumps.

There are many reasons why time is running out for Bush's failed policies in Iraq. For one thing, our general foreign policy is broken. In addition, we need troops to finish the job in Afghanistan, a war that should have been won before going off to Iraq. It's time to find an exit in Iraq, even if we leave some military forces behind for a year or two.

4:34 PM  

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