Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Kissinger On Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran and German Perfidy

Der Spiegel recently interviewed former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger about American politics, the war on terror, Iraq, Afghanistan and several other issues. Kissinger comes out strongly in support of George Bush and the war on terror and he is critical of the lack of European, and particularly German, support.


This is a priceless interview between a left wing interviewer from Der Spiegel and the realpolitik Henry Kissinger about Iraq, Germany's Afghanistan mission, the tepid European commitment to combatting Islamist extremism and whether direct talks with Iran should go ahead.

SPIEGEL: Dr. Kissinger, you have endorsed Senator John McCain as your choice for the White House. McCain, though, has said he would be prepared to stay in Iraq for another 100 years. Are you sure he is the right man for the job?

Kissinger: John and I have been friends for 30 years. I have great confidence in him.

SPIEGEL: Most Americans would like to see a rapid withdrawal from Iraq and possibly Afghanistan. But McCain has made his motto "No Surrender."

Kissinger: He was trying to make a distinction between American military forces in a country where they were there as part of a civil war and military forces that are part of an alliance accepted by the population, such as in Germany after World War II. He did not say we should stay in Iraq in a combat mission. He was trying to make exactly the opposite point.

SPIEGEL: The Democrats have promised a rapid withdrawal. Is this a realistic option?

Kissinger: The issue is: Are American forces withdrawn as part of a political settlement? Or are they withdrawn because America is exhausted by the war? In the latter case, the consequences of an American withdrawal would be catastrophic.

SPIEGEL: Do you think there would be another eruption of violence?

Kissinger: There would be a high possibility of killing fields. Radical Islam won't stop because we withdraw. A rapid withdrawal would be a demonstration in the region of the impotence of Western power. Hamas, Hezbollah, and al-Qaida would achieve a more dominant role, and the ability of Western nations to shape events would be sharply reduced. . . .

Thank you Dr. Kissinger. I have been making this point over and over. Iraq is a zero sum game. If we withdraw, regardless of how its spun in the states, the reprucussions of that event for our national security and our ability to conduct foreign policy would be catastrophic, if not existential. We must succeed in Iraq. We must be seen as having succeeded throughout the Muslim world. As Reuel Marc Gerecht wrote a few days ago in the Washington Post, al Qaeda and Sunni extremism are taking a beating world wide because of Iraq. To walk away from that now would be suicidal and insane.

Kissinger: . . . The virus [of energized radicalized terrorist organizations] would have huge consequences for all countries with large Muslim populations: India, Indonesia, and large parts of Europe

SPIEGEL: That is not how many Europeans see it.

Its almost passee here to point out that the socialist left which dominates Europe is corrupt, weak, and incredibly unrealistic. They invite radical Islam into their bosoms, make common cause with them for the purposes of retaining political power, and then rely on the United States for their defense against this scourge. Given the actions of Europe and, in particular, Germany, I think that we should seriously consider, if not ending NATO, than reducing our military presence in Europe significantly. Europe is, at the moment, relying on U.S. blood and gold for its protection, and most of the nations are not showing either loyalty or responsibility. If they wish to engage in the fantasy that they are under no threat, we should not be the ones underwriting their security while they blissfully bash America as the true evil in the world.

Kissinger: Some Europeans do not want to understand that [Islamic terrorism] is not an American problem alone. The consequences of such an outcome would be at least as serious for Europe as for the Americans.

SPIEGEL: What does Europe not understand? Paris, London and Berlin do not see the "war on terror" as a common challenge for the West?

Kissinger: I don't like the term "war on terror" because terror is a method, not a political movement. We are in a war against radical Islam that is trying to overthrow the moderate elements in the Islamic world and which is fundamentally challenging the secular structures of Western societies. All this is happening at a difficult period in European history.

SPIEGEL: Difficult why?

Kissinger: The major events in European history were conducted by nation-states which developed over several hundred years. There was never a question in the mind of European populations that the state was authorized to ask for sacrifices and that the citizens had a duty to carry it out. Now the structure of the nation-state has been given up to some considerable extent in Europe. And the capacity of governments to ask for sacrifices has diminished correspondingly.

SPIEGEL: Thirty years ago, you asked for one phone number that could be used to call Europe.

Kissinger: ... and it happened. The problem now is: Nation-states have not just given up part of their sovereignty to the European Union but also part of their vision for their own future. Their future is now tied to the European Union, and the EU has not yet achieved a vision and loyalty comparable to the nation-state. So, there is a vacuum between Europe's past and Europe's future.

I think Kissinger's observation is only partly correct. My own observation of the modern socialist left that is ascendent in Europe is that they are incapable of mounting strong actions of self defense for a whole host of reasons that I will go into in a seperate post, though I will note in passing that the vacuum exists in part because of narcissistic welfare societies and the socialist / multiculturalist ethos that denigrates the history of the West. In essence, why fight when there is nothing to preserve.

SPIEGEL: What do you expect from European leaders? Should German Chancellor Angela Merkel step up and ask the Germans to make sacrifices in the fight against terrorism?

Kissinger: I think Angela Merkel, like any leader, has to think of her re-election. I have high regard for her. But I do not know many Europeans who would deny that the victory of radical Islam in Baghdad, Beirut or Saudi Arabia would have huge consequences for the West. However, they are not willing to fight to prevent it.

SPIEGEL: For example in Afghanistan. Does NATO need more German troops in the southern part of the country?

Kissinger: I think it is obvious that the United States cannot permanently do all the fighting for Western interests by itself. So, two conclusions are possible: Either there are no Western interests in the region and we don't fight. Or there are vital Western interests in the region and we have to fight. That means we need more German and NATO troops in Afghanistan. What I am not comfortable with is that some NATO members send troops primarily for non-combat missions. That cannot be a healthy situation in the long term.

Indeed, it is intolerable in the short term. Bush has done some things right, but several things very wrong - one of which is how he has dealt with intransigent members of NATO. If NATO is to survive, than Bush should be shaming its members publicly for the current travesty and drawing lines in the sand. He has utterly downplayed the incredibly poor performance of several members of NATO, Germany chief among them, which will eventually lead to a crisis that he might have forestalled with a bit of decisive action.

SPIEGEL: Many Germans say we have to stand up to the terrorists, but that Germans can't do the actual fighting, partly because of our history. You are intimately familiar with German history -- your family left Germany when you were nearly 15 years old. Is it fair for today's Germany to refer to the constraints of history?

Kissinger: I understand it, but it is not a sustainable position. In the long run, we cannot have two categories of members in the NATO alliance: those that are willing to fight and others that are trying to be members à la carte. That cannot work for long.

SPIEGEL: Do you think the Germans can be persuaded to change their approach?

Kissinger: The Germans have to decide that for themselves. But if they stick to that attitude, Germany would be a different kind of nation than Britain or France or others.

SPIEGEL: Isn't German and European opposition to a greater military involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq also a result of deep distrust of American power?

Kissinger: By this time next year, we will see the beginning of a new administration. We will then discover to what extent the Bush administration was the cause or the alibi for European-American disagreements. Right now, many Europeans hide behind the unpopularity of President Bush. . . .

"Deep distrust of American power?" What an arschloch. The degree of disloyalty and sheer idiocy in that question is mind boggling. If one cannot determine who are their allies and who are their enemies, they fully deserve the fate that awaits them - whether that might be speaking Russian or giving up beer because it is against the dictates of Allah.

SPIEGEL: What do you see as the biggest mistakes?

Kissinger: To go into Iraq with insufficient troops, to disband the Iraqi army, the handling of the relations with allies at the beginning even though not every ally distinguished himself by loyalty. But I do believe that George W. Bush has correctly understood the global challenge we are facing, the threat of radical Islam, and that he has fought that battle with great fortitude. He will be appreciated for that later.

SPIEGEL: In 50 years, historians will treat his legacy more kindly?

Kissinger: That will happen much earlier.

SPIEGEL: Will the next president of the United States ask for a greater European commitment?

Kissinger: It is not impossible that a new administration will say that we can't go on without more European commitment. And that they would use this as an excuse for withdrawal from Iraq or Afghanistan. I don't think John McCain would do that, though.

SPIEGEL: Barack Obama also says the conflict in Pakistan is the war Americans really need to win. Is he right?

Kissinger: You can always say there is some other war I would rather want to fight than the one I am in. What does it mean to fight the war in Pakistan? Should we use military power to control the tribal regions in Pakistan and to conduct military operations in a region which Britain failed to pacify in over 100 years of colonization? Should we use military force to prevent a radical take-over of the Pakistani government? Should we prevent the Pakistani state from splitting up into three or four ethnically based groups? I don't think we have the capacity to do that.

SPIEGEL: What about pushing for more military action against al-Qaida terrorists in the border regions with Afghanistan?

Kissinger: The audience listening to such exhortations believes that there is a master plan to bring another government there and that this democratic government will fight the tribal regions. In the short-term, this is an illusion. . . .

SPIEGEL: . . . Should the new US president fly to Tehran and sit down with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?

Kissinger: Some believe that the mere act of conversation will alter the tension. I believe that negotiations succeed only if they reflect an objective reality. The key issue with Iran is whether it sees itself as a cause or as a nation. If Iran wants to be a respected nation-state in the region without claiming religious or imperial domination, then we should be able to come to some form of understanding. But we will not reach that goal unless Iran realizes that this is not a historical opportunity to resurrect Persian dreams of glory.

SPIEGEL: And the Iranians need to feel Western pressure to come to that conclusion?

Kissinger: We need a mixture of pressure and incentives. We must realize that painless sanctions are a contradiction. . . .

Kissinger manages to paint Obama as the dangerous neophyte that he is and fisk Germany for their failure, to this point, to participate in serious sanctions. That's a two'fer.

SPIEGEL: But looking at legacy again, will historians look back one day and write: The Iraq adventure prevented the US from focusing on other strategic challenges -- such as the rapid rise of India and China? Is the Superpower distracted rather than over-stretched?

Kissinger: I think we face three challenges currently: The disappearance of the nation-state; the rise of India and China; and, thirdly, the emergence of problems and challenges that cannot be solved by a single power, such as energy and the environment. We do not have the luxury to focus on one problem; we have to deal with all three of them or we won't succeed with any of them. The rise of Asia will be an enormous event. But we cannot say that we should therefore keep other challenges, such as the fight against radical Islam, in abeyance. . . .

Read the entire interview. We face a lot of challenges ahead. I agree with Kissinger that the best option to face these challenges will be McCain. Obama or Clinton would likely be a disaster. That said, in any event, I think it is time European nations step up to the plate and become allies and partners instead of whining protectorates.

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