The Corner

Democratic Foreign-Policy Guru

Just talked to a Democratic foreign-policy gray-beard, who is very smart and very wired (he talked to Kofi Annan today). Here are some of his thoughts. I’m not endorsing any of these views, but they are worth taking seriously. He calls Iraq the most serious foreign-policy crisis since Vietnam. He says there’s no guarantee that the insurrection will have lost any intensity by this time next year, and if that’s true, there is a real chance that there will be get-the-hell-out-of-there sentiment that gets serious political expression. If that sentiment prevails, it will be a disaster. He says a U.S. pull-out from Iraq would be worse than the pullout from Vietnam, because–in his view–leaving Vietnam at least freed us up to do other, successful, things in Asia. But Iraq would become a sanctuary for terrorists, who seek to kill Americans and Israel. The country would be feasted upon, like the Congo, by its neighbors–Syria, Iran, Turkey, and perhaps Saudi Arabia. He says it is clear that Saddam is not in control of the insurrection, and we don’t know its true sources, and it is quite possible it could get worse in coming months. Since everything depends on security–reconstruction, and economic and political development–it means the entire picture could get worse before its get better. He suspects a lot of foreign countries may not be willing to contribute troops at this point, even with a U.N. resolution, because they are afraid of body bags. He says the attack on the U.N. building was an attack on the U.S. more than the U.N., because Sergio Vieira de Mello had become known as Bremer’s most important advisor. He says the whole ball game with the U.N. resolution is between France and the U.S.–obviously, I guess–and everyone else will go along with whatever they work out. He says the pressure is on Paris now to become more reasonable, and come along. He says it’s amazing that the U.S. didn’t go to the U.N. immediately, since the U.S. had already had success working through the U.N. in the postwar situations in Bosnia, East Timor, and Afghanistan. And he says the post-war situation in Iraq is one of the most incompetently handled major foreign-policy matters he can remember.

For what it’s worth. I report, you decide…

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