Stay the Course or Father Knows Best?
- The Bush (41) administration brought Arabs and Israelis together for the Madrid Peace Conference, which set the groundwork for the Oslo Accords. These were touted as historic achievements, but for Israel it meant more terrorism, culminating in the second intifada, and for the Palestinians it meant repression in the person of Yasser Arafat and mass radicalization in the movement of Hamas. Worse, Mr. Baker fostered the fatal perception that the failure of Arabs and Jews to make peace was the root of the region's problems, not a symptom of them, and that the obstacle to peace was intransigent Israel, not militant Islam.
- Or take "Lawrence of Serbia," the moniker Mr. Eagleburger earned for his initial indulgence, as the State Department's point man on Yugoslav affairs during the early 1990s while the country was coming apart, of Serbia's Slobodan Milosevic. Mr. Eagleburger, who had longstanding business ties in Belgrade, spent the early period of the war largely ignoring Mr. Milosevic's depredations on his neighbors, including paramilitary slaughters in Vukovar and concentration camps in Omarska. "There was a kind of preference for stability and an attachment to the old Yugoslavia over our interests in human rights," Patrick Glynn of the American Enterprise Institute told Newsday in 1992, adding the administration had "been standing by, waiting while the final solution is played out."
- "Chicken Kiev," Mr. Bush's spectacularly misconceived August 1991 speech in what was shortly to become the capital of independent Ukraine. Mr. Bush's reluctance to acknowledge -- and better manage -- the breakup of Yugoslavia was partly a function of his reluctance to acknowledge the impending breakup of the Soviet Union and the fall from grace of his friend Mikhail Gorbachev. Once Mr. Gorbachev was gone, Mr. Bush was equally reluctant to help the new Russia get on its feet, prompting Richard Nixon to complain about the administration's "pathetically inadequate response in light of the opportunities we face in the crisis in the former Soviet Union."
- No Bush 41 failure was as great -- or as consequential -- as his apparently flip suggestion, following "victory" in the Gulf War, that the "Iraqi people . . . take matters into their own hands and force Saddam Hussein, the dictator, to step down." Tens of thousands of Shiites and Kurds took him seriously, and tens of thousands paid with their lives as Saddam quelled the revolt while the Bush administration stood by, lest it exceed its U.N. mandate.
Surely the long awaited Iraq Study Group pronouncements will weigh heavy on the former Bush foreign policy. However, in mid-stream, abandoning Iraq now would mirror our exit from Vietnam and turn Iraq chaos into Islamic extremisms and establish formal training ground for these groups.
John McCain (R-AZ) contends that the war in Iraq is worth fighting and is worth winning. He has said consistently said from the start of the conflict that the only way to prevail is to send enough soldiers to do the job. His current proposal is to send 20,000 additional troops in hopes of bringing Baghdad and the restive western provinces under control.
The alternative, he said, is humiliation for the United States and disaster for Iraq. This reflects the left-wing attitude using terms as quagmire and Vietnam. Liberals feel some wars are simply "unwinnable." That attitude is one of losers, misfits and certainly the "cut and run" policy of the left.
Cutting losses in Iraq now will certainly have extreme negative effects in the long-term and it will take strength and vision to address today's issues in Iraq and corrective action, not evacuation and abandonment.
“We’re paying a price for the failure of our policy in the past,” Mr. McCain said Sunday on “Meet the Press” on NBC, “and the question, then, before the American people is, are we ready to quit? And I believe the consequences of failure are chaos in the region, which will spread.”
Certainly McCain supports much of what has been written on these pages time and time again as the Senator told Tim Russert on Meet the Press:
The [Iraq] prime minister [Maliki] has to understand that we need to put down Sadr, and we need to take care of the Mahdi Army, and we need to stop the sectarian violence that is on the increase in an unacceptable level. And I think that the best way to assure that is for him to know that we will do what’s necessary to bolster the—train and equip the Iraqi army, etc. If we send the signal that we are leaving, of course he’s going to try to make accommodations with others, because he knows that—what is going to be the inevitable result. So most politicians in that part of the world are interested in survival, so I, I can understand why he took the position that he did, but I certainly disagree with it strongly.
McCain is absolutely correct in his premise. The chaos in Iraq is internal with the clerics and their militias operating unfettered. Eliminate the militias and much of the armed conflict will end. Maliki is feckless at best and is beholden to whatever secures his survival. He needs to be given an ultimatum and follow our lead, which should be McCains plan.