Henry Kissinger discusses the prospects of peace in the Middle-East and weighs in on a range of topics:
‘While Kissinger said he doesn’t share Secretary of State John Kerry’s view that there’s an opening for progress on Middle East peace, he does agree “that an effort should be made in order to see what is possible.”
It seems that Obama may still hold out hope for a Cairo speech view of things, warmed by the winds of the Arab spring, and the activist, ‘arc of justice,’ progressive worldview. Here’s an excerpt of that speech:
‘Some suggest that it isn’t worth the effort – that we are fated to disagree, and civilizations are doomed to clash. Many more are simply skeptical that real change can occur. There is so much fear, so much mistrust. But if we choose to be bound by the past, we will never move forward. And I want to particularly say this to young people of every faith, in every country – you, more than anyone, have the ability to remake this world.’
As Kissinger rightly points out, and Michael Totten notes here, the Syrian opposition has got some really bad actors in it:
‘When Assad falls—and fall he will, at least eventually—the Free Syrian Army will go to war with Jabhat al-Nusra. There is not enough room in that country for al-Nusra and everyone else’
When Assad falls, might we suddenly have more leverage against Iran’s repressive, paranoid, theocratic leadership racing for the nuclear weaponized finish line?
-How do we deal with the rise of Islamism?
Drone strikes, our military, security and intelligence agencies and other means are containing terrorism, or at least those who would do us harm on American soil (terrorism is still tough to define and needs to be worked out better). Some people aren’t reasonable.
Throughout the region, we’ve still got to bet on horses, and this administration’s approach has been to back off more generally, to appeal to international support and shared interest, and to fall back upon the Cairo-speech vision of the Middle-East. Meanwhile, after the Arab Spring, the region is roiling and democracy, in many cases, is not forthcoming. There are institutions run by people not friendly to democracy. Libya has had consequences in Mali. Not acting in Syria, so far, has consequences (and it’s not clear what to do).
We’ve still got to promote stability. It’s good that both Saddam and Gadhafi are gone, and we may disagree about means, but what’s the long-term strategy to develop, if possible, the best horses? Where is there what we want to see in the Arab world and how can be promote and work alongside it (the Green revolution in Iran, stability in Tunisia, a stable Turkey more able to not be washed over by the Islamic resurgence)? Short of that, where is there what we can tolerate and balance with our interests?
How much can we count on the Muslim Brotherhood? How do we deal with Salafists and Wahabbis? How do we deal with Iran, and show leadership and avoid what is an unfavorable war situation? What kind of governments are springing up now?
How do we make the right friends and respond to those who really are our enemies?
-How do we deal with the fact that Islam hasn’t undergone either a Reformation nor an Enlightenment?
The Islamic world has its own long history and traditions, and there are many people who want better lives, and more opportunity. However, I still find myself more persuaded by the Clash Of Civilizations argument than Obama’s internationalist vision. There is deep poverty, tribal and kin-based social structures, a high-youth population, Arab nationalism and Western concepts of nationhood. There is now also a resurgence of Islamic identity, and many folks who are anti-modern and anti-Western coming up.
It’s not clear the policy changes we’ve made are attached to a greater vision that can respond to events and maintain our national security and allow us maximum leverage when we need it to act alone or with others.
Related On This Site: Kissinger says our relations with China are incredibly fragile, and that due to its own past, it may not fit as easily into the Western models of statecraft as some would think: From The Online WSJ: ‘Henry Kissinger on China. Or Not.’