The internets are buzzing tonight over Henry Kissinger’s statement that military victory in Iraq is impossible. The headlines leave the impression that Kissinger has leaped on the Pelosi/Murtha surrender bandwagon; however, his comments suggest no such thing. To his credit, Kissinger expressly rejected the idea of immeidate withdrawal, recognizing the reality that such a move would only destabilize the region.
Kissinger, the architect of the Cold War detente policy subsequently abandoned by President Reagan, did call for engagement with other nations in the region in hopes of securing a diplomatic solution. He recognized that U.S. forces must remain in Iraq until progress is made, but that ultimate victory is impossible. With all due respect, Kissinger’s approach to Iraq today is as wrong as his approach to communism was in the 1970s.
Since our enemies in the region are a band of Islamofascist terrorists without allegiance to a particular state, engagement is impossible. True, many terrorists receive funding from state sponsors, Iran in particular. However, the notion that President Ahmadinejad is a rational actor who would honor an agreement even if he were to enter into one is naive at best. Even if Iran somehow applied pressure and cut off terrorist funding (fat chance), the remaining terrorists would still view their jihad as a religious obligation and remain vigilant.
The only realistic strategy, one that war proponents recognized would be difficult all along, is to train Iraqi forces to manage their own affairs and crush terrorist thugs while doing so. The people in the best position to know where the terrorists are and what they are up to are the Iraqi people themselves. Only when they have faith in their own security forces can the terrorists identified and fumigated out of the country. No one wants to live in a country as Iraq is now. The Iraqi people will seize the moment. The U.S. should not abandon them again.
Kissinger’s words will be interpreted as an endorsement of the McGovern wing of the Democrat party on Iraq. They are nothing of the sort. Nevertheless, Kissinger’s suggestions are still misguided.