Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Brzezinski to Speak Before Senate Foreign Affairs Committee

Zbigniew Brzezinski was a strong but patient critic of Bush's Iraq policy for roughly the first two years of the war and then largely threw up his hands as mistakes piled on mistakes. What does one do when a president's gut instinct is uninformed and he's incapable of listening or admitting mistakes (very late public relations admissions don't count; that's too much like the cookie thief finally admitting to his parents, "Oh! There a cookie in my hand. My mistake!")?

Brzezinski is going before the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee to explain his view tomorrow. Steve Clemons of The Washington Note has posted a copy of Brzezinski's statement; here's some highlights:
It is time for the White House to come to terms with two central realities:

1. The war in Iraq is a historic, strategic, and moral calamity. Undertaken under false assumptions, it is undermining America's global legitimacy. Its collateral civilian casualties as well as some abuses are tarnishing America's moral credentials. Driven by Manichean impulses and imperial hubris, it is intensifying regional instability.

2. Only a political strategy that is historically relevant rather than reminiscent of colonial tutelage can provide the needed framework for a tolerable resolution of both the war in Iraq and the intensifying regional tensions.


Deplorably, the Administration's foreign policy in the Middle East region has lately relied almost entirely on ... sloganeering. Vague and inflammatory talk about "a new strategic context" which is based on "clarity" and which prompts "the birth pangs of a new Middle East" is breeding intensifying anti-Americanism and is increasing the danger of a long-term collision between the United States and the Islamic world. ...

One should note here also that practically no country in the world shares the Manichean delusions that the Administration so passionately articulates. The result is growing political isolation of, and pervasive popular antagonism toward the U.S. global posture.


The quest for a political solution for the growing chaos in Iraq should involve four steps:

1. The United States should reaffirm explicitly and unambiguously its determination to leave Iraq in a reasonably short period of time.

Ambiguity regarding the duration of the occupation in fact encourages unwillingness to compromise and intensifies the on-going civil strife. ...


[from point 2] It is necessary to engage all Iraqi leaders -- including those who do not reside within "the Green Zone" -- in a serious discussion regarding the proposed and jointly defined date for U.S. military disengagement because the very dialogue itself will help identify the authentic Iraqi leaders with the self-confidence and capacity to stand on their own legs without U.S. military protection. Only Iraqi leaders who can exercise real power beyond "the Green Zone" can eventually reach a genuine Iraqi accommodation. ...


It is also time for the Congress to assert itself.

Just to amplify his point concerning the Green Zone, Brzezinski might have mentioned prominent Iraqi officials and politicians who don't even bother to reside in Iraq and live in places like London. In the last sixty years, there have been many examples of propped up governments that simply do not survive the departure of the foreign government that had been occupying the country. Legitimacy cannot be imposed. Even when Germany and Japan were occupied, there were legitimate institutions still in place that formed much of the core that replaced nazism and fascism. We can leave forces in the vicinity and develop multilateral resources to help with the transition and do the necessary regional talks, but Iraq needs to find its own legitimacy.

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Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

In an excellent presentation, Zbig makes a critically important statement when he asserts, "Only Iraqi leaders who can exercise real power beyond 'the Green Zone' can eventually reach a genuine Iraqi accommodation . . ."

Saying Iraq has a functioning government at all is a stretch. That it has a functioning democracy would be laughable if the situation weren't so dire and deadly.

We do need to see who can really lead there, and whether that person or persons are suitable for our support. That's part of the inevitable sorting out that will take place sooner, if we let it, or later, if we persist in suppressing it.

Everything else is talk while more lives and money are wasted.

5:40 PM  

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