Interesting article on the Iraq situation and the prospects of “timetables.” Mr. Kissinger is, of course, an adviser to John McCain, so his view is the same as mine: that arbitrary timetables based on wishes of the U.S. population back home instead of conditions on the ground plays right into the hands of opposition forces in Iraq.
However, Mr. Kissinger makes another point which I sort of instinctively knew deep down, but simply couldn’t put my finger on until he expressed it. Beyond that I think it even illustrates Iraq as an example we should learn from:
In this manner, prospects for reconciliation among the three parts of the country, Kurdish, Shiite and Sunni, have appeared not through legislation, as congressional resolutions applying the American experience imagined, but by necessity and a measure of military and political equilibrium. Since the need for American forces in dealing with a massive insurrection has diminished, they can increasingly concentrate on helping the Iraqi government resist pressures from neighbors and the occasional flare-up of terrorist attacks from al-Qaeda or Iranian-backed militias. In that environment, the various national and provincial elections foreseen for the next months in Iraq’s constitution can help shape new Iraqi institutions.
This goes way deeper than foreign policy as far as the “Liberal” versus “Conservative” view of things. Most of the process of the left covering their tails about the success of the surge has revolved around the argument that there has not been the “political reconciliation” that was predicted. And in their view, they’re right. The Iraqi government has indeed not completely come together–Shiite, Sunni, and Kurd–and forged the agreements and institutions necessary to secure their country long-term.
But the people of Iraq, the tribes, the communities, and the neighborhoods…have come to some agreements. The long and short of it is: “Progressives” can’t picture anything good happening without a Government agency being responsible for it. This is why “Liberals” can say–with a straight face–that “Conservatives” want the Government telling us what we can and can’t do, while almost in the same breath will describe how the Government should tell us what we can and can’t do. Because if someone is a proponent of an idea, then OBVIOUSLY that means they want the Government to enforce it. How else can you change things if it’s not by Federal edict?
However, I’ve met few conservatives who are pushing for a Christian Caliphate (to use the term loosely); they simply believe the Government should not force us to abandon our own principles on the altar of abiding by “Progressive” ones.
And back to Iraq some are (as this article in the Boston Globe makes clear) obviously unable to believe that anything can happen unless the Federal Government makes it so. Suppression of violence, infrastructure, stability, economics, all of that stuff is irrelevant because Maliki’s had less to do with it than he would like to admit.
Truthfully, we can draw a lesson from this domestically. We as individuals, communities, and States should start thinking about solving our own problems instead of waiting for Washington, DC to do it for us (or, to be fair, an external military presence); this is the solution to: Health Care, energy, transportation, immigration…you name it.
Actually, the more I think about it, the more I realize how attitudes about Foreign Policy and Domestic Policy are intertwined into one major philosophical divide: who is responsible for solving the world’s problems? Individuals or Governments?