Day By Day

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Kissinger on Iraq

Henry Kissinger, who knows whereof he speaks, explains why Obama's insistence on a fixed timetable is a bad idea.

Establishing a deadline is the surest way to undermine the hopeful prospects [in the region]. It will encourage largely defeated internal groups to go underground until a world more congenial to their survival arises with the departure of American forces. Al-Qaeda will have a deadline against which to plan a full-scale resumption of operations. And it will give Iran an incentive to strengthen its supporters in the Shiite community for the period after the American withdrawal. Establishing a fixed deadline would also dissipate assets needed for the diplomatic endgame.

The inherent contradictions of the proposed withdrawal schedule compound the difficulties. Under the fixed withdrawal scheme, combat troops are to be withdrawn, but sufficient forces would remain to protect the U.S. Embassy, fight a resumption of al-Qaeda and contribute to defense against outside intervention. But such tasks require combat, not support, forces, and the foreseeable controversy about the elusive distinction will distract from the overall diplomatic goal. Nor is withdrawal from Iraq necessary to free forces for operations in Afghanistan.
And here Dr. Kissinger touches on a profound disagreement between liberals and conservatives. Liberals, somewhat naively, conceive of military and diplomatic efforts as opposed alternatives -- the former to be deployed only if the latter fail. Conservatives recognize that they are complementary aspects of our national policy. A successful diplomatic effort in West Asia will depend to a large extent upon the demonstrated willingness of the next administration to deploy military assets there. This is a distinction that the press seldom recognizes and which politicians are afraid to assert for fear of being branded war mongers, yet it is fundamental to any successful attempt to protect American interests anywhere they are threatened. McCain knows this -- I am not sure Obama, whose experience has been largely limited to the parochial precincts of academia and the activist community, understands.

The problem with Obama is that he might just believe the inane things he says.

Read Dr. Kissinger's article here.