Iraq, Arab-Israeli stalemate, India-Pakistan standoff, and Afghan
Starting position: can one consider any of these without factoring Iran? Iran can influence and intervene in Iraq as it has. Iran can threaten and actually attack Israel and vice versa. Iran can influence and intervene in Pakistan and Afghanistan, as it has.
China and Russia continue to conduct business with Iran, and China has considerable influence, well, everywhere including the USA.
With that as a backdrop, and in the context of David Ignatius’ story in the Washington Post that suggests Obama needs a Machiavelli and considers how Kissinger and Brzezinski might handle the situation, here is my take. Ignatius picks up on the secretiveness of both Kissinger and Brzezinski and suggests that Obamamachiavelli might emerge to deploy secretiveness?
On point are General David Petraeus, Ambassador Jim Jeffrey, and Vice President Joe Biden as identified by Ignatius. What about Hillary Rodham Clinton, when the wedding is over? Is it true that Ambassador Holbrooke has somehow lost a lifetime of skill and is no longer valuable? What about Bill Clinton, when the wedding is over?
Iraq – finish the withdrawal, General Odierno
Arab-Israel – The Clintons, when the wedding is over
India-Pakistan – Assign and empower Holbrooke as he has the Machiavelli in him
Afghanistan – finish the withdrawal, General Petraeus
“Where is President Obama's Machiavelli?
Thursday, July 8, 2010
The two modern American masters of Machiavellian diplomacy, Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski, both practiced their art at times comparable to this one -- with the country suffering from reversals in war and loss of confidence in its political leadership.
So it's an interesting thought exercise to imagine how a national security adviser with the secretive, back-channel style of a Kissinger or Brzezinski would play America's diplomatic hand now. Mind you, I'm not suggesting what policies these two would actually recommend today but, instead, what a more creative diplomatic approach might produce in a time of difficulty.
When I say "creative," what I partly mean is devious. Both Kissinger and Brzezinski did not always state publicly what they were doing in private. After the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, Kissinger opened a secret intelligence channel to the Palestine Liberation Organization, at the very time he was branding it a terrorist group and refusing open recognition. Similar secret conversations surrounded the entire Arab-Israeli peace process.
Not all of Kissinger's machinations were successful: He accepted a Syrian intervention in the Lebanese civil war in 1976 to aid the Christians against the PLO that arguably still causes trouble. But he created space and options for an America that had otherwise been weakened by the Vietnam War.
Brzezinski, too, was adept at concealing his hand and adding heft to the drifting presidency of Jimmy Carter. When an emboldened Soviet Union marched into Afghanistan, Brzezinski crafted a secret intelligence alliance with China and Pakistan to check the Soviets. Here, too, we are still living with some of the negatives. But it must be said, the Soviet Union is no more.
Let's look at how this approach might be applied today in four problem areas: Iraq, the Arab-Israeli mess, the India-Pakistan standoff and the endgame in Afghanistan. Again, I want to stress that these gambits are in the style of the venerable strategists but not necessarily what they would advocate now.”