April 15, 2004

Zbigniew tells it like it is

Political discourse and the timidity of the US media being what they are, it's comes as quite a jolt to hear some ungarnished common sense talk on Iraq. Here's Zbigniew Brzezinski on the News Hour, talking with Jim Lehrer:
JIM LEHRER: To follow up on something you said Zbigniew Brzezinski and move this on to Iraq. The president said last night that our action against Iraq was an action against terror, it's part of the war on terror. Do you agree with him?

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: No. No, I don't. It seems to me that we have increased the probability of terrorist attacks in the United States by taking a war into Iraq, a war which is unrelated to what happened on 9/11 and without any serious evidence -- any serious evidence at all of any connection between terrorism directed at us and Saddam's regime which is obviously a malignant regime. It's gone -- but that's not that it is not sufficient for invading a foreign country. I think the excuses we are using are obviously motivated by an effort to justify what has transpired, especially since what has transpired is becoming more and more difficult for us.

But in the meantime, the number of enemies against the United States has maximized and I'm afraid in the Middle East, the United States is increasing of the focal point of generalized hatred. We are being seen as an extension of what the Arabs have been experiencing over the past 40 years. Our occupation is being viewed now a mirror image of the West Bank. The two have conflated in the eyes of the people in the region and what is worse, most of the world views it that way. I think that collectively increases the threat of the United States.
And later he swats down Brent Scowcroft's feeble attempt to praise his former boss's son:
BRENT SCOWCROFT: I think what the president did last night was something I think was vital to do, and that is he presented the picture of a president confident in his policy and determined to make Iraq work. And I think that is vital because I think one of the things people will start saying, it's Vietnam. It's Vietnam. We're going to pull out. We're going to pull out. Well, if we get that impression abroad, especially in Iraq, then we'll never be able to succeed. So I think the president, by showing that kind of determination, has put us on a major step forward.

JIM LEHRER: Do you see it the same way?

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Not quite. I don't think determination is enough. It is good enough to be determined but if you are determined to pursue on a wrongheaded course, it is not going to get you anywhere.

JIM LEHRER: What is the alternative?

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: The issue is can we do it well on our own? I doubt it very much. I think to handle Iraq effectively so that these good outcomes that Brent was talking about actually transpire, we have to engage others. We have to engage the U.N. much more actively. And we've delayed this for far too long. We have to make some effort to get our allies engaged. We have in a sense said you can be engaged by sending money and men but we'll do what we want, which is not the way you engage allies. Eventually you have to get the moderate Muslim countries engaged. We were hoping for Pakistani troops and Moroccan troops. We didn't get them.

And last but not least we have to recognize there is no disengagement in Iraq with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict going on because if it is still going on when we disengage, the next Iraqi government will anti-American and anti-Israeli. So determination is not enough. It is a question of the right strategy. And I'm afraid our strategy right now in Iraq is essentially very one sided and rather extremist.

JIM LEHRER: One sided and extremist.
Smile when you say that, Jim.