It's all a conspiracy theory.....
Speech by Zbigniew Brzezinski, now Senator Obama's top foreign policy advisor
The New America Foundation American Strategy Program
AMERICAN STRATEGY AND THE MIDDLE EAST
July 20, 2006
Restaurant Nora, Washington, D.C.
The Honorable Zbigniew Brzezinski, National Security Advisor to President Carter and Trustee and Counselor, Center for Strategic and International Studies
Let me be serious now because this is a serious time which calls for serious reflection. I have to talk for about 15 or so minutes. I will be brief. Let me start by sharing with you what I consider to be 3 axiomatic propositions.
The first is that today, for the United States, its policy in the Middle East is the basic test of AmericaÂs capacity to exercise global leadership. ItÂs become that. I see it as in many respects similar to what transpired during the Cold War when the ultimate test of AmericaÂs capacity to act as a defender of the free world was its ability to conduct a meaningful policy in Europe for Europe then was the central front and we know the outcome.
Today the Middle East is the fundamental test of American ability to lead, and at stake is precisely that. If we do not do well, we will lose our capacity to lead, and that concerns me greatly.
The second axiomatic proposition that I want to share with you is that the experience of recent times--and much of the experience connected also with the existence of the state of Israel--teaches us that neither Israel nor the United States in the final analysis have the capacity to impose a unilateral solution. There may be people who deceive themselves of that. We call them neo-cons in this country and there are other equivalents in Israel as well. They may think that either the United States or Israel can impose a solution
The United States has already learned--or at least it is in the process of learning in Iraq-- that it does not have the capacity to impose unilateral solutions to the problems it faces, by force, acting on its own, and neither does Israel.
And my third proposition is that by now it should be very evident to all concerned that the parties that are fighting now in the Middle East, particularly the Israelis and the Palestinians can never resolve their conflict peacefully, no matter how much they try, no matter how sincere they may be. And when they are sincere, unfortunately it is in-synchronous to the sincerity of the other side, and more often than not, one or the other is not sincere. Quite often, neither is sincere. As a result, there has been no peace in the Middle East.
Let me speak a little bit to each of these propositions. The use of force and unilateral solution. There has been a great deal of talk recently about Israel seeking a unilateral solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Â
How can one envisage it? One can envisage an imposition of a condition but one should not confuse it with a legitimate, acceptable peace settlement. A settlement based on the expansion, to some significant degree, of the state of Israel beyond Â67 lines without territorial compensation or accommodation is going to be a settlement that leaves the West Bank essentially in a condition closely approximating that of a Bantustan which had been planned in the days of apartheid in South Africa.
A solution which is unilateral which involves the incorporation of all of Jerusalem in the state of Israel is going to leave the roof of the Golden Dome on top of the Temple on the Mount visible to most Palestinians in a physical sense. Those of you who know the region know you can see it from afar, and that will be a symbol of the illegitimacy and unacceptability of that imposed settlement. And the failure to generate a political equilibrium will lead to further rounds of violence.
So I do not see Israel being able to change the mindset of the peoples involved and particularly not by use of force. Use of force can achieve certain short-term objectives, perhaps even today in Lebanon provides Israel some modest success in interdicting some Hezbollah military capability. But use of force breeds its own antithesis: the mobilization of deeper resistance, the radicalization of those around you, and a growing sense of outrage and determination to survive.
I hate to say this but I will say it. I think what the Israelis are doing today for example in Lebanon is in effect, in effect--maybe not in intent--the killing of hostages. The killing of hostages. Because when you kill 300 people, 400 people, who have nothing to do with the provocations Hezbollah staged, but you do it in effect deliberately by being indifferent to the scale of collateral damage, youÂre killing hostages in the hope of intimidating those that you want to intimidate. And more likely than not you will not intimidate them. YouÂll simply outrage them and make them into permanent enemies with the number of such enemies increasing.
I have been involved with this problem for thirty years or so, and my sense is that the difficulty in resolving it is increasing rather than decreasing and that the hostility is hardening. The number of moderates is diminishing, and the prospects for protracted violence is growing, so that is not a solution.
The solution can only come if there is a serious international involvement that supports the moderates from both sides, however numerous or non-numerous they are, but also creates the situation in which it becomes of greater interest to both parties to accommodate than to resist because both of the incentives and the capacity of the external intervention to impose costs. That means a deliberate peace effort led by the United States, which then doubtless would be supported by the international community, which defines openly in a semi-binding fashion how the United States and the international community envisages the outlines of the accommodation. In short, the kind of adoption of the Geneva Accords or the Taba formulations or some of the formulations by Clinton at Camp David, and that should be the position of the international community spelled out in black and white and accompanied by very explicit indication that rejection by the Palestinian side will gravely affect our degree of support and acceptance for the Palestinian regime and exactly the same vis-a-vis Israel.
WeÂre not prepared to do that, then we might as well kiss the prospects for peace goodbye. Right now every indication is that weÂre not prepared to do that. Worse than that, we have abandoned our traditional position from being a mediator and have adopted a policy of almost complete partiality and that contributes to the intensity of the conflict.
Now that brings me to my third and last point because I know Steve doesnÂt want me to talk long, which is AmericaÂs role in the Middle East as a whole and that goes beyond this issue regarding which IÂve already indicated what I think America ought to be doing, but by now the problems of the Middle East, some of them endemic and generic to the region but some of them of our making involve at least two other issues: Iraq and potentially Iran. And itÂs becoming increasingly difficult to separate the three: the Israeli-Palestinian, the Iraq problem, Iran.
The Iraq problem, look what Prime Minister al-Maliki said today--itÂs an indication of things to come. The notion that weÂre going to get a pliant, democratic, stable, pro-American, Israel-loving Iraq is a myth which is rapidly eroding and which is now being contradicted by political realities.
And the problem of Iran is clearly related because of IranÂs connection to Syria... [inaudible]Âdestabilize the region, while at the same time there are people in this city and in Jerusalem who would like to make certain that there is no compromise accommodation between the United States and Iran but, on the contrary, that the United States undertakes military action against them. It is mostly an extreme, lunatic fringe.
We have read IÂm sure the editorial by [Bill] Kristol in The Weekly Standard, but there are people in the U.S. government who lean that way, who think that way, who agitate that way. And my grave concern is that within the U.S. government today, the structure of authority is such that it is quite conceivable for a key player in that system, especially endowed with a sense of a divine mission as to reach a decision [inaudible]. It is not concluded that such a person is even susceptible to such arguments because of that sense of mission.
What of course imposes the limit are certain objective circumstances. And it is a difficult thing to say, but in fact our failure in Iraq is saving us from duplicating that misadventure vis-Ã*-vis Iran and that is probably the most important impediment to such a repetition.
And that leads me then to the proposition beforehand, namely that we have now, weÂre not only committed to what I said earlier, regarding the Israeli-Palestinian process, but more deliberately by terminating our involvement in Iraq. And I have put forth a four-point program which [I am sure] I have discussed in one of the rare occasions within the last year administration has talked to me, some top level people in the administration. They listened to this:
That we start talking to the Iraqis of the day of our disengagement., We say to them we want to set it jointly, but in the process, indicate to them that we will not leave precipitously. I asked Khalilzad what would be his definition of precipitous and he said four months and I said I agree. Are you saying to the Iraqis, we intend to disengage by some period? We need to.
And then we will see what Iraqi leaders say to us and which leaders say what. IÂm convinced those who categorically say to us we donÂt want you to leave are the ones who will leave with us when we leave. And ones who will be more prepared to entertain the proposition of us leaving are the ones who have some basis of confidence that they have political and military roots in the country and that they, together, the Shiites and the Kurds they will make arrangements with the Sunnis, handle it on their own.
Once we reach an agreement with the Iraqis, I would secondly announce it as a joint decision. Not as an American decision but as a joint American-Iraqi decision. Because that would give greater credibility to such an Iraqi government.
Thirdly, I would then have the Al-Maliki government convene a conference of all of their adjoining Muslim states, perhaps some of the distant ones, such as Pakistan, Morocco, Algeria on the subject of their potential to help stabilize Iraq after weÂre gone. Because once weÂre leaving, most of them will be willing to help and stabilize them. Because for different reasons, entirely different reasons, Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia would have their own specific stakes in stabilizing Iraq which may not be identical stakes but complementary stakes, and thus it would be quite worthwhile initiating this process.
And then fourth, the United States will announce a donorsÂ conference to help rehabilitate IraqÂs economy and particularly its energy-producing capacity. I believe that would help the extract us in a fashion which would not be calamitous. It would not be quite defined or what has been defined as ÂvictoryÂ: a secular, democratic, stable Iraq [but] probably an Iraq [engaged] for some time in civil strife. But I believe an indigenous government is much more likely to be effective in repressing domestic insurgency than the occupation army that neither understands the culture of the country nor the language, And because of psychological pressures conducting a counterinsurgency in civilian areas, is itself becoming increasingly affected by the contagion of demoralization that has, in previous history, badly damaged even the most professional of forces.
As far as Iran is concerned--and with this IÂll end--thanks to Iraq, I think we have made an offer to the Iranians that is reasonable. I do not know that Iranians have the smarts to respond favorably or at least not negatively. I sort of lean to the idea that theyÂll probably respond not negatively but not positively and try to stall out the process. But that is not so bad provided they do not reject it. Because while the Iranian nuclear problem is serious, and while the Iranians are marginally involved in Lebanon and to a greater extent in Syria, the fact of the matter is that the challenge they pose to us, while serious, is not imminent. And because it isnÂt imminent, it gives us time to deal with it. And sometimes in international politics, the better part of wisdom is to defer dangers rather than try to eliminate them altogether instantly, because the later produces intense counter-reactions that are destructive. We have time to deal with Iran, provided the process is launched, dealing with the nuclear energy problem, which can then be extended to involve also security talks about the region.
In the final analysis, Iran is a serious country, itÂs not Iraq. ItÂs going to be there. ItÂs going to be a player. And in the longer historical term, it has all of the preconditions for a constructive internal evolution if you measure it by rates of literacy, access to higher education, the role of women in society, a sense of tradition and status which is real.
IÂm convinced that the mullahs are part of the past in Iran, not its future. But that process can change in Iran, not in a confrontation but through engagement. I think if we pursue these policies, we can perhaps avert the dangers that we face but if we do not, I fear that the region will explode, and for that matter, Israel will be in the long run in great jeopardy.
When we accept todayÂs realities, American pre-eminence in Middle East affairs is in danger and without correction, our primacy may last for a short duration.
These people (Brzezinski et al) may be "top of the tree" in the political and diplomatic world, but their efforts have failed, failed, and failed. As human beings, they are nonstarters (IMHO). The same stuff of the last few decades is being repeated, and either Obama
. They represent the War Party (democrats and republicans alike). War is the US legacy and primary future function in the world. Our economy is build upon the need for violence and conflict. Our 401Ks depend upon it. We need enemies like a junkie needs a needle, and if we find ourselves without a real one, as hapenned after the collapse of the Soviet Union, then we have to manufacture a real one, or failing that, invent a phony one. When the current IslamofacistÂ® Threat falls out of fashion as the "enemy du jour", we'll soon manufacture another, just wait and see. China. Socialism in South America. Martians?