Wednesday, June 02, 2004

President Kerry's National Security Advisor?

As an intelligent, experienced, thoughtful individual, Mr.Zginiew Brzezinski is ideally suited to become President Kerry's National Security Advisor.

The New Republic  -   Friday 28 May 2004

Face Reality By Zbigniew Brzezinski
Lowered Vision

America's Iraq policy requires a fundamental strategic reappraisal. The
present policy - justified by falsehoods, pursued with unilateral arrogance,
blinded by self-delusion, and stained by sadistic excesses - cannot be
corrected with a few hasty palliatives. The remedy must be international in
character; political, rather than military, in substance; and regional,
rather than simply Iraqi, in scope.

Rectifying the increasingly messy Iraqi adventure requires understanding its
root: the extremist foreign policy pursued by this administration. Its
rhetoric has been demagogic, especially at the very top. Its strategic
content has been manipulated by officials preoccupied more with reshaping
the security landscape of the Middle East than with maintaining America's
ability to lead globally. Domestic support for its policies was mobilized by
the deliberate exploitation, as well as stimulation, of fear among the
electorate. The Iraq war is not only an outgrowth of this flawed approach to
foreign policy, but also its symbol.

Unlike the 1991 war against Iraq, for which more than 80 percent of the cost
was borne by America's allies, this time American taxpayers must foot the
bill, which is already approaching $200 billion. The number of Americans

dead and wounded is in the thousands and climbing, and the number of
innocent Iraqis killed is considerably higher. America's relationship with
Europe - which is integral to global stability and to the protection of U.S.
interests - has been badly strained. America's credibility has been
tarnished among its traditional friends, its prestige has plummeted
worldwide, and global hostility toward the United States has reached a
historical high.

Most immediately dangerous, the war has focused Arab hatred on the United
States. The U.S. occupation of Iraq is now seen by most Arabs as a mirror
image of Israel's repression of the Palestinians. The Bush administration's
unqualified support for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's brutal treatment of
the Palestinians has created a political linkage between the war in Iraq and
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that is evident to almost everyone in the
world except the current White House.

The initiatives President Bush took this week point in the right direction,
but they are too late in coming and involve too little change in substance.
The president now accepts implicitly what top-level administration officials
explicitly rejected when I spoke with them just a few months ago: the need
for a U.N. umbrella over the U.S. grant of even limited sovereignty to the
Iraqi government. The administration, however, still refuses to bite the
bullet and make difficult decisions on the role and duration of the U.S.
military presence in Iraq or on the larger dilemmas of regional peace in
the Middle East.

The administration has yet to confront squarely the fact that the
deteriorating situation both in Iraq and in the region will not improve
without a politically comprehensive and coldly realistic revision of current
policies that addresses four key points: (1) The transfer of "sovereignty"
should increase, rather than discredit, the legitimacy of the emerging Iraqi
government, and hence it should issue from the United Nations, not the
United States; (2) Without a fixed and early date for U.S. troop withdrawal,
the occupation will become an object of intensified Iraqi hostility; (3) The
Iraqi government should reflect political reality, not doctrinaire American
delusions; and (4) Without significant progress toward an Israeli-Palestinian
peace, post-occupation Iraq will be both anti-American and anti-Israel.

First, the transfer of nominal sovereignty to a few chosen Iraqis in a
still-occupied country will brand any so-called "sovereign" Iraqi authority
as treasonous. A grant of "sovereignty" by the United States to the Iraqis -
while an American proconsul backed by an occupation army remains ensconced
in a fortress in the very heart of the Iraqi capital - will have no political legitimacy.
The president's assertion (repeated more than once in his speech on Monday night)
that such a transfer will bestow "full sovereignty" on Iraq is Orwellian artifice.

The urgent need is to subordinate, as soon as possible, the U.S. occupation
- which is rapidly alienating the Iraqis - to the visible presence of the
United Nations, headed by a high commissioner to whom effective authority
should then be transferred. A genuinely empowered U.N. high commissioner
could, in turn, progressively yield genuine sovereignty to the Iraqis with
much greater prospects of gaining Iraqi public support for the interim

The authority of any such high commissioner should extend to the security
sphere. The American military commanders in Iraq should retain full
discretion to respond to attacks upon U.S. forces in the manner they deem
necessary, but any offensive operations they - or other coalition forces -
conduct should require explicit authorization from the high commissioner,
perhaps in consultation with the Iraqi leaders. That change in command and
control would automatically transform the character of the U.S. presence in
Iraq from a military occupation to internationally supervised peacekeeping.

The U.N. resolution the Bush administration proposed Monday makes token
gestures to that end, but it does not fundamentally alter the continued and
overt supremacy of the United States in Iraq.

Second, the longer the U.S. military presence lasts, the more likely it is
that Iraqi resistance will intensify. It is, therefore, in America's interest to credibly convey U.S. determination to let Iraqis manage (however imperfectly) their own
security. Setting a reasonable deadline for the departure of U.S. troops - far enough in the future not to look like a pell-mell withdrawal but soon enough to concentrate Iraqi minds on the need for self-sufficiency - could take practical advantage of the fact that
thecountrywide situation on the ground is currently not quite as bad militarily
as necessarily selective TV images suggest.

April 2005 - two years after the occupation began - might be the appropriate
target for terminating the U.S. military presence. A publicly known date for
the departure of U.S. troops would refute suspicions that the United States
harbors imperialist designs on Iraq and its oil, thereby diluting
anti-American resentments both in Iraq and the region at large. Only a firm
deadline for military withdrawal will convince the Iraqis that we truly
intend to leave. Conversely, failure to set a date will encourage Iraqi
politicians to compete in calling for early U.S. departure.

Admittedly, there is a risk that a U.S. withdrawal will be followed by intensified instability, but such instability would harm U.S. global interests less than
continued (and perhaps rising) resistance to a seemingly indefinite U.S.
occupation - which, in any case, has not suppressed low-level but widespread
crime, violence, and terrorism. That resistance could take the form of intensified
urban warfare, such as that waged five decades ago by the Algerians against the French. The United States could doubtless crush such an insurgency with an
intensified military effort, but the political costs of such escalation - massive civilian casualties, pervasive destruction, and the inevitable exacerbation of national,
cultural, and religious indignities - would be colossal.

The United States should consult with the principal members of its military
coalition about an appropriate deadline. A set date of April 2005 could
force other states, notably our European allies, to focus on the need for a
wider and more ambitious effort to help the Iraqis stabilize and reconstruct
their country. The militarily significant members of the coalition (those
with 1,000 or more troops in Iraq) are Great Britain, Italy, Poland,
Ukraine, and the Netherlands. Their views should be solicited, if for no
other reason than because the publics in these countries are increasingly
hostile to continued participation in Iraq's occupation, while some of the
officers commanding their contingents in Iraq have been quite critical of
heavy-handed U.S. military tactics.

Third, the internationalization of the supreme political authority in Iraq
and the setting of a date for U.S. withdrawal will require a redefinition of
the oft-proclaimed (but largely illusory) goal of transforming Iraq into a
democracy. Democracy cannot be implanted by foreign bayonets. It must be
nurtured patiently, with respect for the political dignity of those
involved. An assertive and occasionally trigger-happy occupation is no
school of democracy. Humiliation and compulsion breed hatred, as the
Israelis are learning in the course of their prolonged domination over the

Post-occupation Iraq will not be a democracy. The most that can be
practically sought is a federal structure, based on traditional, often
tribal, sources of authority within the three major communities that form
the Iraqi state: the Shia, the Sunnis, and the Kurds. It would be unwise,
however, to demarcate these communities into three territorially defined
regions, for that would almost certainly produce intense border conflicts
among them. Until the dust settles from Saddam Hussein's dictatorship
and the U.S. military intervention, it would be wiser to rely on the traditional
arrangements within the more numerous existing provinces - a strategy that
could promote political compromise across sectarian lines. The result would
likely be a somewhat Islamic Iraqi national government that roughly
reflected the country's demographic, religious, and ethnic realities.

Fourth, but far from least, the United States must recognize that success in
Iraq depends on significant parallel progress toward peace between the
Israelis and Palestinians. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the single
most combustible and galvanizing issue in the Arab world. If the United
States disengages from Iraq before making significant headway toward
settling that dispute, it could face a sovereign Iraqi government that is
militantly hostile to both Israel and the United States.

Therefore, the United States - if it is to gain any international (and especially European) support for remedying its Middle Eastern dilemmas - will have to clarify its stand on the eventual shape of an Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement. It should by now be clear that the conflict will never be ended by the two parties on their own. U.S. unwillingness to define, even in broad terms, the fundamentals of a peaceful outcome abandons those Israelis and Palestinians who genuinely desire peace to the mercies of their extremist leaders. Furthermore, endorsing Ariel Sharon's goals but ignoring the Palestinian side of any compromise is delaying, rather than accelerating, the peace process - while
compounding the suffering on both sides.

To mobilize those Israelis and Palestinians who seek peace, and to convince
the Middle East that U.S. occupation of Iraq is not simply a conspiratorial
extension of Israeli domination of the West Bank, the United States should
more explicitly state its position regarding the six key issues that a final
Israeli-Palestinian peace will have to resolve: not only (as Israel demands)
that there can be no right of return for Palestinian refugees, and that the
1967 lines cannot automatically become the final frontier, but also that
there will have to be equitable territorial compensation for any Israeli
expansion into the West Bank; that settlements not proximate to the 1967
line will have to be vacated; that Jerusalem as a united city will have to
be shared as two capitals; and that Palestine will be a demilitarized
state, perhaps with some nato military presence to enhance the durability of
the peace settlement.

A fundamental course correction is urgently needed if the Middle East is to
be transformed for the better. Slogans about "staying the course" are a
prescription for inflaming the region while polarizing the United States and
undermining U.S. global leadership. A bold change of course - given the
gravity of the situation confronting the Iraqis, Israelis, and Arabs more
generally, as well as concerned Europeans - could still snatch success
from the tightening jaws of failure. But there is little time left.

Zbigniew Brzezinski served as national security advisor to President Jimmy Carter and is the author of The Choice: Global Domination or Global Leadership.<<


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