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   1. Face reality-Zbigniew Brzezinski (


Message: 1
Date: Fri, 4 Jun 2004 04:22:57 EDT
Subject: Face reality-Zbigniew Brzezinski

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The New Republic     Friday 28 May 2004

Face Reality

By Zbigniew Brzezinski

Lowered Vision

America's Iraq policy requires a fundamental strategic reappraisal. The
present policy - justified by falsehoods, pursued with unilateral
blinded by self-delusion, and stained by sadistic excesses - cannot be
corrected with a few hasty palliatives. The remedy must be international
character; political, rather than military, in substance; and regional,
rather than simply Iraqi, in scope.

Rectifying the increasingly messy Iraqi adventure requires understanding
root: the extremist foreign policy pursued by this administration. Its
rhetoric has been demagogic, especially at the very top. Its strategic
content has been manipulated by officials preoccupied more with
the security landscape of the Middle East than with maintaining
ability to lead globally. Domestic support for its policies was
mobilized by
the deliberate exploitation, as well as stimulation, of fear among the
electorate. The Iraq war is not only an outgrowth of this flawed
approach to
foreign policy, but also its symbol.

Unlike the 1991 war against Iraq, for which more than 80 percent of the
was borne by America's allies, this time American taxpayers must foot
bill, which is already approaching $200 billion. The number of Americans

dead and wounded is in the thousands and climbing, and the number of
innocent Iraqis killed is considerably higher. America's relationship
Europe - which is integral to global stability and to the protection of
interests - has been badly strained. America's credibility has been
tarnished among its traditional friends, its prestige has plummeted
worldwide, and global hostility toward the United States has reached a
historical high.

Most immediately dangerous, the war has focused Arab hatred on the
States. The U.S. occupation of Iraq is now seen by most Arabs as a
image of Israel's repression of the Palestinians. The Bush
unqualified support for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's brutal treatment
the Palestinians has created a political linkage between the war in Iraq
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that is evident to almost everyone in
world except the current White House.

The initiatives President Bush took this week point in the right
but they are too late in coming and involve too little change in
The president now accepts implicitly what top-level administration
explicitly rejected when I spoke with them just a few months ago: the
for a U.N. umbrella over the U.S. grant of even limited sovereignty to
Iraqi government. The administration, however, still refuses to bite the

bullet and make difficult decisions on the role and duration of the U.S.

military presence in Iraq or on the larger dilemmas of regional peace in
Middle East.

The administration has yet to confront squarely the fact that the
deteriorating situation both in Iraq and in the region will not improve
without a politically comprehensive and coldly realistic revision of
policies that addresses four key points: (1) The transfer of
should increase, rather than discredit, the legitimacy of the emerging
government, and hence it should issue from the United Nations, not the
United States; (2) Without a fixed and early date for U.S. troop
the occupation will become an object of intensified Iraqi hostility; (3)
Iraqi government should reflect political reality, not doctrinaire
delusions; and (4) Without significant progress toward an
Israeli-Palestinian peace, post-occupation Iraq will be both
and anti-Israel.

First, the transfer of nominal sovereignty to a few chosen Iraqis in a
still-occupied country will brand any so-called "sovereign" Iraqi
as treasonous. A grant of "sovereignty" by the United States to the
Iraqis -
while an American proconsul backed by an occupation army remains
in a fortress in the very heart of the Iraqi capital - will have no
political legitimacy. The president's assertion (repeated more than once
his speech on Monday night) that such a transfer will bestow "full
sovereignty" on Iraq is Orwellian artifice.

The urgent need is to subordinate, as soon as possible, the U.S.
- which is rapidly alienating the Iraqis - to the visible presence of
United Nations, headed by a high commissioner to whom effective
should then be transferred. A genuinely empowered U.N. high commissioner

could, in turn, progressively yield genuine sovereignty to the Iraqis
much greater prospects of gaining Iraqi public support for the interim

The authority of any such high commissioner should extend to the
sphere. The American military commanders in Iraq should retain full
discretion to respond to attacks upon U.S. forces in the manner they
necessary, but any offensive operations they - or other coalition forces
conduct should require explicit authorization from the high
perhaps in consultation with the Iraqi leaders. That change in command
control would automatically transform the character of the U.S. presence
Iraq from a military occupation to internationally supervised
The U.N. resolution the Bush administration proposed Monday makes token
gestures to that end, but it does not fundamentally alter the continued
overt supremacy of the United States in Iraq.

Second, the longer the U.S. military presence lasts, the more likely it
that Iraqi resistance will intensify. It is, therefore, in America's
interest to credibly convey U.S. determination to let Iraqis manage
imperfectly) their own security. Setting a reasonable deadline for the
departure of U.S. troops - far enough in the future not to look like a
pell-mell withdrawal but soon enough to concentrate Iraqi minds on the
for self-sufficiency - could take practical advantage of the fact that
countrywide situation on the ground is currently not quite as bad
as necessarily selective TV images suggest.

April 2005 - two years after the occupation began - might be the
target for terminating the U.S. military presence. A publicly known date
the departure of U.S. troops would refute suspicions that the United
harbors imperialist designs on Iraq and its oil, thereby diluting
anti-American resentments both in Iraq and the region at large. Only a
deadline for military withdrawal will convince the Iraqis that we truly
intend to leave. Conversely, failure to set a date will encourage Iraqi
politicians to compete in calling for early U.S. departure.

Admittedly, there is a risk that a U.S. withdrawal will be followed by
intensified instability, but such instability would harm U.S. global
interests less than continued (and perhaps rising) resistance to a
indefinite U.S. occupation - which, in any case, has not suppressed
low-level but widespread crime, violence, and terrorism. That resistance

could take the form of intensified urban warfare, such as that waged
decades ago by the Algerians against the French. The United States could

doubtless crush such an insurgency with an intensified military effort,
the political costs of such escalation - massive civilian casualties,
pervasive destruction, and the inevitable exacerbation of national,
cultural, and religious indignities - would be colossal.

The United States should consult with the principal members of its
coalition about an appropriate deadline. A set date of April 2005 could
force other states, notably our European allies, to focus on the need
for a
wider and more ambitious effort to help the Iraqis stabilize and
their country. The militarily significant members of the coalition
with 1,000 or more troops in Iraq) are Great Britain, Italy, Poland,
Ukraine, and the Netherlands. Their views should be solicited, if for no

other reason than because the publics in these countries are
hostile to continued participation in Iraq's occupation, while some of
officers commanding their contingents in Iraq have been quite critical
heavy-handed U.S. military tactics.

Third, the internationalization of the supreme political authority in
and the setting of a date for U.S. withdrawal will require a
redefinition of
the oft-proclaimed (but largely illusory) goal of transforming Iraq into
democracy. Democracy cannot be implanted by foreign bayonets. It must be

nurtured patiently, with respect for the political dignity of those
involved. An assertive and occasionally trigger-happy occupation is no
school of democracy. Humiliation and compulsion breed hatred, as the
Israelis are learning in the course of their prolonged domination over

Post-occupation Iraq will not be a democracy. The most that can be
practically sought is a federal structure, based on traditional, often
tribal, sources of authority within the three major communities that
the Iraqi state: the Shia, the Sunnis, and the Kurds. It would be
however, to demarcate these communities into three territorially defined

regions, for that would almost certainly produce intense border
among them. Until the dust settles from Saddam Hussein's dictatorship
the U.S. military intervention, it would be wiser to rely on the
arrangements within the more numerous existing provinces - a strategy
could promote political compromise across sectarian lines. The result
likely be a somewhat Islamic Iraqi national government that roughly
reflected the country's demographic, religious, and ethnic realities.

Fourth, but far from least, the United States must recognize that
success in
Iraq depends on significant parallel progress toward peace between the
Israelis and Palestinians. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the
most combustible and galvanizing issue in the Arab world. If the United
States disengages from Iraq before making significant headway toward
settling that dispute, it could face a sovereign Iraqi government that
militantly hostile to both Israel and the United States.

Therefore, the United States - if it is to gain any international (and
especially European) support for remedying its Middle Eastern dilemmas -

will have to clarify its stand on the eventual shape of an
Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement. It should by now be clear that the

conflict will never be ended by the two parties on their own. U.S.
unwillingness to define, even in broad terms, the fundamentals of a
outcome abandons those Israelis and Palestinians who genuinely desire
to the mercies of their extremist leaders. Furthermore, endorsing Ariel
Sharon's goals but ignoring the Palestinian side of any compromise is
delaying, rather than accelerating, the peace process - while
the suffering on both sides.

To mobilize those Israelis and Palestinians who seek peace, and to
the Middle East that U.S. occupation of Iraq is not simply a
extension of Israeli domination of the West Bank, the United States
more explicitly state its position regarding the six key issues that a
Israeli-Palestinian peace will have to resolve: not only (as Israel
that there can be no right of return for Palestinian refugees, and that
1967 lines cannot automatically become the final frontier, but also that

there will have to be equitable territorial compensation for any Israeli

expansion into the West Bank; that settlements not proximate to the 1967

line will have to be vacated; that Jerusalem as a united city will have
be shared as two capitals; and that Palestine will be a demilitarized
perhaps with some nato military presence to enhance the durability of
peace settlement.

A fundamental course correction is urgently needed if the Middle East is
be transformed for the better. Slogans about "staying the course" are a
prescription for inflaming the region while polarizing the United States
undermining U.S. global leadership. A bold change of course - given the
gravity of the situation confronting the Iraqis, Israelis, and Arabs
generally, as well as concerned Europeans - could still snatch success
the tightening jaws of failure. But there is little time left.


Zbigniew Brzezinski served as national security advisor to President
Carter and is the author of The Choice: Global Domination or Global

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