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Condi's Gone UN Correct

Annie

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Whether or not this 'guess' is correct, this sounds like the 'new' State Dept. Condi. Link to the column at site:

http://powerlineblog.com/archives/014923.php

Condi speaks (I think), on background

In his New York Times column yesterday ("Talking about terror," behind TimesSelect), David Brooks describes a conversation with "a policy maker that sheds light on where we’ve been and where we’re going." He shares a "truncated version" of the conversation in the column. The conversation appears to me to have been a background briefing by Condoleezza Rice and Brooks's summary is worth quoting in full as a reflection of administration policy:

Policy Maker: Israel began this war with an almost unprecedented level of legitimacy. Unfortunately, that was forfeited during the first days with the bombing campaign, which seemed to punish all of Lebanon instead of just Hezbollah. If Sharon were still functioning, perhaps he would have insisted on a better plan, but this may be another case of a just war poorly executed.

Me: But wasn’t this war a test case of whether it is even possible to defeat a terrorist force with military might? After all, no army is going to know this kind of enemy better than Israel’s. Maybe the Islamists have simply come up with a conceptual breakthrough that makes them difficult to defeat. They’ve grasped that the more they endanger their own people and get them killed, the better it is for them politically. Israel or the U.S. gets blamed. That’s like a superweapon in the media war.

Has Israel at least degraded Hezbollah militarily?

P: Not enough to give them the sense they’re being defeated. In any case, we’ve worked out an arrangement with France that should stop the fighting early next week. This may sound odd, but U.S. relations with France have hardly been better. We’re working remarkably closely across a whole range of Middle East issues because we have the same understanding and goals.

In Lebanon there will be a truce that will leave the current armies in place (which the Israelis won’t like). Then we can insert an international force. We won’t be able to disarm Hezbollah but we may be able to help the Lebanese Army secure the border.

The thing to understand is that the international force may never materialize. The key is Hezbollah. If they decide to harvest their gains by becoming a peaceful player in the Lebanese government, then the international force can come in. But if they decide to destabilize the government and turn Lebanon into a host for their war with Israel then there’ll be no force. Israel would have to find a way to withdraw at a time of its own choosing. But if Hezbollah keeps fighting it will have accepted responsibility for breaking the international deal, and Israel will have greater freedom to act.

M: Is it possible to flip Syria?

P: The U.S. and others have channels open to Syria, but its interest diverges from ours. Its interest is the increased weakness of the Lebanese government.

The wider situation is that most governments around Israel no longer want war. But the governments are weak, so terror armies can form within those states. If Israel tries to attack those armies, it ends up weakening the central governments it is trying to bolster. That’s the dilemma.

The U.S. and Europe would like to strengthen those central governments. We don’t have a policy of externally imposed regime change. We’re trying to create conditions to allow those governments to make better decisions and make slow progress toward freedom. But Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah want to hollow out those moderate governments from within.

The first group of Islamists like Al Qaeda have utopian agendas. But Iran and Hezbollah have more realistic agendas, more indigenous support and are thus more dangerous. Think of the way early 20th-century anarchists in Europe led eventually to the Nazis and Leninists.

M: So what is the U.S. doing?

P: The U.S. is trying to be at the center of a group of like-minded countries that want to preserve the viability of governments that prefer peaceful evolution to violent revolution.

We’re part of a united front on Iranian nukes. The odds are there will be sanctions against Iran by the end of the year, though how strong I don’t know. We’re trying to build a successful government in Iraq. We have to get out from under the blow to our authority caused by the torture and detainee issues. And we have to get aggressive on the Palestinian problem. That’s essential to strengthen moderate regimes.

We’re not going to be spending as much blood or treasure as over the past few years. We have to make up for it with diplomacy backed by a hint of steel.

I emphasize that I may well be wrong that it is Secretary Rice speaking, but I doubt that Brooks would give over his column in this way to a lesser figure. In any event, whatever Bush administration "policy maker" it is, the column provides a useful if disappointing guide to administration thinking on Israel's war against Hezbollah and related administration diplomacy.

UPDATE: Reader Jim Osborn writes:

I think it was irresponsible to publish this and attribute it to Rice. Would she say, "We don't have a policy of externally imposed regime change"? Would she say, "Al Qaeda [has a] utopian agenda"? I don't think Rice is that naive!

I repeat: My attribution of the comments to Secretary Rice is tentative and hypothetical. The substance of the comments and their reflection of administration policy is the point.
Posted by Scott at 06:33 AM
 
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Annie

Annie

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Related, strongly so-(one might even wonder about plagarism)

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2006/08/diplomatic_wind.html

August 09, 2006
Diplomatic Wind
By Tony Blankley

David Brooks devoted his entire Sunday New York Times column to a truncated verbatim text of an interview he had on background with a Bush Administration "policy maker" on our Middle East foreign policy. It reveals several shrewd assessments, but also an undeniable air of unreality and defeatism. If the comments are a true reflection of President Bush's views, then one is obliged to re-assess virtually every word the administration expresses on the topics of the Middle East and terrorism.

I will not play the game of trying to guess who the background "policy maker" is. But I know Mr. Brooks to be a highly ethical, fully professional moderately conservative journalist. It is inconceivable that he would devote his entire Sunday N.Y. Times column to the verbatim comments of some disgruntled GS 16 at the State Department. Moreover, he characterizes the words as "shed[ding] light on where we've been and where we're going." Thus, I take the words seriously. So should you.

There are two passages that particularly disturb me. Here is the first: "In Lebanon there will be a truce that will leave the current armies in place (which the Israelis won't like). Then we can insert an international force. We won't be able to disarm Hezbollah, but we may be able to help the Lebanese Army secure the border. The thing to understand is that the international force may never materialize. The key is Hezbollah. If they decide to harvest their gains by becoming a peaceful player in the Lebanese government, then the international force can come in. But if they decide to destabilize the government ... then there'll be no force. Israel would have to find a way to withdraw at a time of its own choosing. But if Hezbollah keeps fighting, it will have accepted responsibility for breaking the international deal, and Israel will have greater freedom to act."

Egad. Does the "policy maker" really believe that Hezbollah may "harvest their gains by becoming a peaceful player"? This is a pathological case of wishful thinking. Not much more realistic is the later statement that if Hezbollah keeps fighting, "it will have to accept responsibility for breaking the international deal ... ." Have to take responsibility? They will be bragging across the Middle East of their victory to the only audience they care about -- the Arab street (and the broader Muslim world).

In either contingency that the "policy maker" suggests, Israel will be politically badly damaged, Hezbollah will be strengthened, radical Islam will have a new triumph to tout to their growing army of Muslim recruits around the world -- and the United States will have been dealt another body blow in the war against radical Islamist aggression.

The second part of the text is even more disturbing:

"The odds are there will be sanctions against Iran by the end of the year, though how strong I don't know. We're trying to build a successful government in Iraq. We have to get out from under the blow to our authority caused by the torture and detainee issues. And we have to get aggressive on the Palestinian problem. That's essential to strengthen moderate [Muslim] regimes.

We're not going to be spending as much blood or treasure as over the past few years. We have to make up for it with diplomacy backed by a hint of steel."


I should add that the "policy maker" had previously said that our strategy is to strengthen and gently reform weak moderate Middles East countries. That is a perfectly sensible objective.

But the fuller text -- particularly that jejune and flaccid bewailment that we must "get out from under the blow to our authority caused by the torture and detainee issues" -- suggest that we intend to subordinate firm military or even firm diplomatic action to winning the love of the Arab Street. Really. When? Next Thursday?

Winning hearts and minds is a valid long-term aspiration. But it is a dangerous fantasy to think it will be achieved any time soon. Or, to be more specific, Iran will surely get nuclear weapons, and Hezbollah will surely gain dominance over poor old Lebanon long before the Arab street starts holding pro-America and pro-Israeli marches.

In the short and early middle term, a policy of appealing to the hearts and minds of the Arab street (i.e. "getting out from under the blow to our authority caused by the torture and detainee issues") will be indistinguishable from a policy of appeasement to radical Islamist sentiments. (Of course, "leaning on Israel" is always well received on the Arab Street.)

And, oh dear, that last phrase: "We have to make up [for not spending so much blood or treasure as over the past few years] with diplomacy backed by a hint of steel." More likely a hint of lavender. Somehow, I doubt that Hezbollah, al Qaeda Hamas and their fellow cutthroats are going to take the "hint."

Reading these assessments from someone very high up in the Bush foreign policy hierarchy, it is hard to take in the distressing conclusion that even now, after all we have seen and been through these past five years, it is still believed that we can somehow finesse radical Islamist terrorism with sweet talk. This is going to be a bloody fight to the death between civilization and Islamist barbarity -- made more bloody the longer we wait to take the threat seriously.
 
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Annie

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No conservatives have anything to say? (Gee, usually we are asking the Liberal members that.)

Some conservatives though are getting a bit miffed. Links at site:



August 10, 2006
Has the Bush administration lost the plot?

According to this piece in the Jerusalem Post senior members of the Israeli Defense Force are "fuming" over being denied the opportunity to achieve a military victory over Hezbollah. I find it particularly disturbing that the Bush administration appears to have played a key role in denying the IDF that opportunity. Indeed, Tony Snow reportedly stated at a press conference today that an Israeli move deeper into Lebanon did not correspond with American policy.


Does this mean that American policy is now to protect Hezbollah from the Israelis? I'm struggling to understand how, if the reports we're getting are true, this question can be answered other than in the affirmative. At a minimum, it apparently is inconsistent with Bush administration policy for our main ally in the Middle East, when attacked by a terrorist organization that is also committed to attacking (and has attacked) the U.S., to fight to win.

The administration now seems joined at the hip with the French when it comes to combatting Hezbollah. It's almost as if Kerry, not Bush, won the 2004 election.
Posted by Paul at 04:53 PM
 

Bullypulpit

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<center><img src=http://f3.yahoofs.com/users/41c53681z9e72b0ef/e091/__sr_/a8fbscd.jpg?ph42e3EBkXAXlwQH></center>
 

Bullypulpit

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No conservatives have anything to say? (Gee, usually we are asking the Liberal members that.)

Some conservatives though are getting a bit miffed. Links at site:

Chimpy and Co. "lost the plot" when they decided to invade Iraq rather than scraping Afghanistan out like a gourd and setting up a viable government there. Now, our forces are caught in the middle of a fulminating civil war in Iraq and the Taliban are staging a comeback in southern Afghanistan.
 
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Annie

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Chimpy and Co. "lost the plot" when they decided to invade Iraq rather than scraping Afghanistan out like a gourd and setting up a viable government there. Now, our forces are caught in the middle of a fulminating civil war in Iraq and the Taliban are staging a comeback in southern Afghanistan.

I disagree with the invasion being a bad idea, but the follow through regarding adapting has been problematic. My take, pull our troops out of the way and let them fight it out, back the winner. Keep Iran out. Oh yeah, knock off Sadr.
 

Bullypulpit

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I disagree with the invasion being a bad idea, but the follow through regarding adapting has been problematic. My take, pull our troops out of the way and let them fight it out, back the winner. Keep Iran out. Oh yeah, knock off Sadr.

On your first point, we must agree to disagree, but at least we can agree on the follow-through. Although I find your depiction of it as being "problematic" to be overly generous.

We should indeed remove our troops from harms way, but to reintroduce them after the winner of a three-way civil war between Sunnis, Shi'as and Kurds would be a dicey proposition at best. Particularly given that the current government is already in Iran's pocket.

Withdraw all of our troops but for a mobile strike force to Afghanistan, to help stabilize the situation there, and other nations in the region still willing to have our troops on their soil. Then, when the dust settles in Iraq, if the new govenrment ( if there is a viable new government), asks for our help, it can quickly be delivered.

In removing Saddam from the picture, Chimpy and Co. did Iran a huge favor. A threat to Iran was removed, and US forces and resources are being sucked into the black hole that is now Iraq at a prodigious rate. This freed Iran to pursue its own goals, both on the nuclear front and in the long term strategic picture as US forces are stretched so thin that the threat of force by Chimpy's administration is, at best, weak.
 
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Annie

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On your first point, we must agree to disagree, but at least we can agree on the follow-through. Although I find your depiction of it as being "problematic" to be overly generous.Saddam had to go.

We should indeed remove our trops from harms way, but to reintroduce them after the winner of a three-way civil war between Sunnis, Shi'as and Kurds would be a dicey proposition at best. Particularly given that the current government is already in Iran's pocket. While I wouldn't rule out a 3 way split of Iraq, that isn't what I was referring to. Shia and Sunni, winner take all.

Withdraw all of our troops but for a mobile strike force to Afghanistan, to help stabilize the situation there, and other nations in the region still willing to have our troops on their soil. Then, when the dust settles in Iraq, if the new govenrment ( if there is a viable new government), asks for our help, it can quickly be delivered.

In removing Saddam from the picture, Chimpy and Co. did Iran a huge favor. A threat to Iran was removed, and US forces and resources are being sucked into the black hole that is now Iraq at a prodigious rate. This freed Iran to pursue its own goals, both on the nuclear front and in the long term strategic picture as US forces are stretched so thin that the threat of force by Chimpy's administration is, at best, weak.
So you think Saddam should have remained in place?
 

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As brutal as Saddam was, he kept the peace better than Bush and Bush's imposed democracy combined.

Right---thats why he attacked Kuwait and shot at our planes. Peaceful guy.
 

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Right---thats why he attacked Kuwait and shot at our planes. Peaceful guy.

He attacked Kuwait because he thought he had the green-light to do so from Poppy Bush's administration. Poppy did not remove Hussein from power because he understood the consequences of doing so, unlike his idiot son.
 

Bullypulpit

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So you think Saddam should have remained in place?

He was no threat to the US or his neighbors in the region. Only his own people had anything to fear from him, and our government has allowed many a despotic regime go unchallenged, while even supporting others.

As it stands now, our troops are stuck in a quagmire, and Iraq, far from being a democracy, is quietly sliding towards religious autocracy aligned with Iran and noisily towards civil-war. Not to mention the fact that it has become the training ground for the next generation of terrorists cloaking their actions in the guise of Islam.
 

dilloduck

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He was no threat to the US or his neighbors in the region. Only his own people had anything to fear from him, and our government has allowed many a despotic regime go unchallenged, while even supporting others.

As it stands now, our troops are stuck in a quagmire, and Iraq, far from being a democracy, is quietly sliding towards religious autocracy aligned with Iran and noisily towards civil-war. Not to mention the fact that it has become the training ground for the next generation of terrorists cloaking their actions in the guise of Islam.

Good--let the idiots close ranks!
 

JeffWartman

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He was no threat to the US or his neighbors in the region. Only his own people had anything to fear from him, and our government has allowed many a despotic regime go unchallenged, while even supporting others.

As it stands now, our troops are stuck in a quagmire, and Iraq, far from being a democracy, is quietly sliding towards religious autocracy aligned with Iran and noisily towards civil-war. Not to mention the fact that it has become the training ground for the next generation of terrorists cloaking their actions in the guise of Islam.

So, your answer is yes: Saddam should have remained in power.
 

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