Monday, June 12, 2006

Richard Holbrook - Iraq worse than Viet Nam.

This is a report written bySuzanne Nossel of Richard Holbrook's assessment of the war in Iraq:
"Holbrooke highlights Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan as a collective morass in which our position is deteriorating in every individual country. Says we unaccountably outsourced our Iran policy for five years to other countries, rather than talking directly. Last week's half-measure deserves very light applause. Afghanistan is a deteriorating disaster - the Administration says he's too pessimistic but based on his trips there there's no basis for optimism.

He and our own Mort Halperin now agree that Iraq is worse than Vietnam both in its consequences and the policy challenge posed by the need to extricate. Neither thought they would ever say that about any foreign policy quandary. It's astonishing that with 1000 days left Bush is already saying he plans to hand this to his successor - its a guaranteed 2000+ more casualties. Plus our international standing will only continue to wane.

Administration's dilemma is whether to draw down troops for political reasons or increase troops for strategic reasons. Says Haditha reflects a climate of permissiveness throughout the power structure - the marines there don't know the name Alberto Gonzalez but got the message. He deeply regrets giving the Admin qualified support on Iraq. The most prescient statement on Iraq was Al Gore's speech in 2002 at the Commonwealth Club in San Fran. Well worth a re-read.

If Bush buck-passes as is his stated intent, it now looks like the 2008 election may be a referendum on Iraq. In office, a new president will have to end the war to have a hope of reelection in 2012."

[Via Kevin Drum.]

Holbrook is no person to overreact to foreign policy events. He has been around too long and in the middle of the worst of them.

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