Monday, February 26, 2007

Kissinger Calls for Talks

More advice that George Cheney-Bush isn't going to want to hear.

Henry Kissinger has called for an international conference to decide the future of Iraq. He says there's no other way:

"If America fails to achieve its immediate objectives — if terrorist camps or terrorist regimes emerge on the soil of Iraq, backed by its huge oil resources — no county with a significant Muslim population will be able to escape the consequences: not India, with the second largest Muslim population in the world; not Indonesia, with the largest; not Turkey, already contending with incursions from the Kurdish portion of Iraq; not Malaysia, Pakistan or any of the countries of Western Europe; not Russia, with its Muslim south; nor, in the end, China.

"If the Iraq war culminates in a nuclear Iran (as an indirect consequence) and an Islamic fundamentalism that can claim to have ejected Russia from Afghanistan and America from Iraq, a period of extreme turbulence verging on chaos is unavoidable, and it will not be confined to the Middle East. A threat to global oil supplies would have a shattering impact on the world economy, especially the economies of the industrialized countries.

"...what is most frequently debated is whether diplomacy should be invoked at all. The administration, following one strain of American attitudes towards diplomacy [the neo-cons], has implied that it is not yet ready to negotiate over Iraq — especially not with Iran and Syria, which are accused of fomenting the conflict and stirring up the violence.

"The political framework needs to be created by countries with a stake in the outcome. These would include the permanent members of the Security Council; Iraq's neighbors; key Islamic countries like India, Pakistan, Indonesia and Malaysia; and major oil consumers like Germany and Japan.

"These countries have many conflicting interests, but should have a common concern in preventing jihadist fanaticism from driving the world towards an ever-widening conflict.

"The international conference should be the occasion, as well, to go beyond the warring factions in Iraq to moving toward a stable energy supply. It would be the best framework for a transition from American military occupation. Paradoxically, it may also prove the best framework for bilateral discussions with Syria and Iran.

"American military policy in Iraq must be related to such a diplomatic strategy. Unilateral withdrawal on fixed timetables, unrelated to local conditions, is incompatible with the diplomacy described here."

There's a certain beauty to Kissinger's proposal but its questionable whether the Bush administration, it's credibility at home and abroad in tatters, could initiate such a conference even if it chose to try. A lot of lines have been drawn and interests already defined and it would take a strong America to sweep those aside. That's not to say the international approach isn't worth trying but is there any reason to believe that Bush is willing to take that step?

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