It’s the battle of the emigre NSC Directors! Today on CNN’s Late Edition Wolf Blitzer had on Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski. I don’t normally do this, but I’m going to quote Brzezinski at length because I think what he said amounts to some of the most sensible stuff I’ve heard of late on this subject. It’s worth reading through.
BLITZER: Welcome back to our special LATE EDITION, Showdown: Iraq. We’re talking with former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and former U.S. National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski.
Dr. Brzezinski, how much damage do you believe there will be in U.S.-Turkish relations if the Turkish parliament does not reverse itself and authorize the deployment of some 62,000 U.S. troops to Turkey?
BRZEZINSKI: I think there would be resentment here, obviously, and understandably so.
But one has to take into account that one of the costs of pressing Turkey into this war, in addition to bribing them, which is pretty expensive too, in any case, might be significant political instability in Turkey. And this is another reason why I feel we ought to let inspection and verification run its course. The political costs we’re going to be paying for this, whether in Turkey or in Pakistan, probably in much of the Middle East, already in a great deal of Europe, throughout the world in fact, are going to be so high that, unless there is an imminent threat — I repeat the word “imminent,” which we’re not using actually — I think we can afford to let this process go forward.
BLITZER: But you heard Dr. Kissinger say, you have 200,000 U.S. troops, you can’t keep them cocked at ready to go forever. And if you start withdrawing, then it’s basically all over, and it underscores U.S. weakness in the face of Iraqi defiance.
BRZEZINSKI: You know, admittedly the Middle East is not Europe, and the climatic conditions are more adverse. But the fact is that we kept war-ready troops in Europe, war-ready, poised for war, for several decades, and we have far greater rapid-redeployment capability today than we ever did.
So the argument that we have to go to war because we deployed troops to press the other side to concede, I think, is not a sufficient cause for a war, which could be very costly, very destructive, and which, at least in the near future, is not necessary.
I don’t exclude the possibility that, in the long run, we may have to use force. What I am saying is, let’s think of the larger picture, the broad geostrategic costs. Let’s think of the dangers elsewhere before we take a plunge which could isolate us in the world at enormous cost to our international position.
BLITZER: Is this about as bad as you’ve seen the U.S. relationship with some of these NATO allies?
BRZEZINSKI: I think Henry is right in saying that this is very serious, but I think we have to ask ourselves, how have we conducted ourselves? We have in effect said to them, “Line up.” We have treated them as if they were the Warsaw Pact. The United States issued orders, and they have to follow.
Now, let me give you one striking example. The president since 9/11 has uttered the phrase “He who is not with us is against us” — mind you, “He who is not with us is against us,” anyone who disagrees with us is against us — no less than 99 times. We have a concept of the alliance, inherent in this kind of conduct, which involves giving orders and others falling in line.
The issue of Iraq is a complicated issue. It’s related to the whole question of proliferation and global stability. Ultimately, it points even to the issue of North Korea, that we haven’t talked about at all.
And how we conduct this problem, how we deal with it is essential to the effective exercise of America’s global leadership.
We are literally undercutting it right now. We have never been as isolated globally, literally never, since 1945.
How much of the diplomatic capital we’ve built up over the last 50 years can we spend down in a few short months? I guess we’re about to find out.