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November 20, 2006

Henry Kissenger says we can't win in Iraq

If you've lost Henry Kissenger, you've lost the war. Bush has lost Henry Kissenger.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon is expected to call for a "small short-term increase" in troop levels prior to withdrawal. Yeah, just a few more troops, just until we can train the Iraqi advisors. Sure.


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Kissinger's comments are vague, so I don't pretend to know exactly what he was getting at, or why he said it. Still, it seemed to me he was basically saying "there is no possibility of a military victory because Democrats won the election," on the grounds, I take it, that the democratic win was evidence that Americans aren't sufficiently gutty to do what is necessary to win.

Which is absolutely fascinating to me, because I still have never heard anyone say what a win in Iraq would mean, or what tangible, remotely plausible metrics we could use to measure a success (aside from "a stable democracy" and "the Iraqis are ready to stand up," of course).

But the problem is that liberals have wussified the electorate.

god I love politics.

Josh Marshall has a slightly different take on Kissinger's remarks. It's worth a look. Kissinger is basically saying that the war, like the one in Vietnam, is technically "winnable," but the American people lake the intestinal fortitude to see it through. We're going to be hearing a lot more of that, of course.

Salted peanuts, anyone?

Dan wins by 60 seconds.

so kissinger says this: "If you mean by 'military victory' an Iraqi government that can be established and whose writ runs across the whole country, that gets the civil war under control and sectarian violence under control in a time period that the political processes of the democracies will support, I don't believe that is possible." then the article says that he thinks a quick withdrawal is bad because it would "destabilize Iraq's neighbors and cause a long-lasting conflict."
so am i correct in thinking that the explicit cause for our continued presence in iraq is merely to prevent the violence from spilling over iraqi borders? what a pathetic empire we've turned out to be. where's the shock? where's the awe? where's the granduer and the divine purpose? the most powerful army in the history of man, and it's being used not for peacekeeping, not even for peacemaking, but just to keep a lid on an irrepressibly violent situation?
also, the definition of "military victory" that k-hen trots out is particularly strange, because within it, every goal is political. to my mind, no one has yet tried to explain what aparatus the military is supposed to use to accomplish political goals in a foreign, and ostensibly sovereign, nation. sounds to me like some of that good ol "war/post-war" confusion. with all of this foundationally murky thinking, i can only imagine what our troops actually think they're aiming for.
p.s. i once met a man in belize whose first name was henry kissinger. his mayan-speaking mother, who didn't know a word of english, was changing him a few days after his birth when she heard the name "henry kissinger" on the radio (c. 1972). thinking the name important-sounding, she gave it to her son. if you're ever in belize, ask about him. one in ten people there seem to have run into him at some point in their lives.

I overheard a TV news ad saying something like "Henry Kissinger thinks the war is unwinnable." I thought, "ah--must have imagined it." But if he is blaming the Democratic win, that makes sense.

>what a pathetic empire we've turned out to be. where's the shock? where's the awe? where's the granduer and the divine purpose?

We're the "Short Attention Span" empire. Just as W probably got all the toys he wanted as a child, only to get tired of them two days after breaking them at Christmas, we're given a perfectly good imperium, but have neither the vision nor the coordination to create something out of it.

Iraq could be 'won', the same way Vietnam could be 'won'. Intern everyone you don't mind, kill all the rest, then release the internees. Come to think of it, the US tried that in Vietnam, but Kissinger's right, there just aren't the guts for it. What 5 or 6 million casualties when it leads to triumph?
Of course, what if some of those devious Iraqis pretend to be our allies and go into internment, only to change sides or reveal themselves later? And it's possible some of our 'allies' who are soft on terrorism would be dismayed by genocide. Silly them, we'd do this for the world, after all.

Another way that Kissinger's remarks will be spun is that "idealistic" neo-cons want to fight for spreading democracy whereas us war opponants are no different than Kissingerian realists.

This false dichotomy (you are either a neo-con idealist or you are some sort of Kissingerian realist) equating us moonbats with Kissinger of all people was tried a while back, and we can expect it to pop-up again now, even if it has since been revealed that Kissinger is indeed one of them (and of course not one of us).

BTW -- did any of you catch Muravchick (sp?) or whatever that neo-con I've never heard of until now that he seems to have become their spokescritter (he sounds like Ted Koppel, you know the one ...) on "Talk of the Nation" yesterday? He was pretty much saying the neo-cons were right about what needs to be done in the ME but maybe wrong to want to go to war to do it. But he was claiming that only the neo-cons were thinking democratization is important ... aside from the obvious short-comings of what he was saying (Iran, e.g., being exactly the kind of theocratic republic the religious right wants to have in this country), since when were the neo-cons in practice (not just in rhetoric) really backing actions that would lead to democratization, and since when were liberals, e.g., not doing so.

I wish someone would call the neo-cons on their "you have to be willing to send other people's kids to war to show you're serious about something" arguments ... especially when it comes to something like democratization which it is a dangerous paradox to think that you can force people to democratize ...

Hmm. Iraq always seemed to me like neocons trying to revisit Vietnam under the auspices that the Vietnam war had been lost because it had been run by Democrats who weren't willing to do what it took to win, leaving them with a mess that was too big by the time they got hold of it. Hence the emphasis on allowing torture to be able to "do it right this time". They sure showed us.

So it's not surprising that Kissinger would take this point of view, which is, in effect, his revenge of saying "you boyos thought you were so smart but you f****d up Iraq too".

In the end, they are all just a bunch of self-important authoritarian yahoos who think they know better than everyone else when they probably shouldn't be trusted to scrub toilets properly.

Well the joke is that in Vietnam our mistake (like that of the French before us) was to fight it as if we were fighting WW II again (wishfully), as if we could behemoth our way through it with big infrastructure, big weapons, and big set-piece battles, when in fact it was a guerrilla war, which you can't win that way. Iraq is the same thing. We tried to kick the Vietnam memory in the Gulf War, by--you guessed it--fighting a big, set-piece battle, but some in our administration and the Congress of the time mistakenly thought that we could then stick around safely after the big battle. Sorry, guys--you left the door open, and Vietnam got back out (in?).

>Congress of the time

Excuse me, "Congress of the time of the later Iraq War in 2003"

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