Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Dr Kissinger Calls

by afew Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 11:25:09 AM EST

Henry Kissinger in Spiegel adds his voice to the American choir calling on Europe -- Germany in particular -- to put combat troops into southern Afghanistan. His is, of course, (reputedly) the voice of cold reason, though he does manage a taunt about Europeans hiding behind Bush, ie using Bush's awfulness as a pretext for looking the other way.

Two themes stand out for me. First, Kissinger says there are "vital Western interests" at stake, and these do not concern rivalry with China. The exclusive immediate problem appears to be defeating radical Islamism.

SPIEGEL Interview with Henry Kissinger: 'Europeans Hide Behind the Unpopularity of President Bush'

SPIEGEL: What does Europe not understand? Paris, London and Berlin do not see the "war on terror" as a common challenge for the West?

Kissinger: I don't like the term "war on terror" because terror is a method, not a political movement. We are in a war against radical Islam that is trying to overthrow the moderate elements in the Islamic world and which is fundamentally challenging the secular structures of Western societies.

OK, the Great War On Terror always was a tacky brand name. With Professor Kissinger we move up-market. But notice that, apart from its effect on the Islamic world, radical Islam is fundamentally challenging the secular structures of Western societies. Radical loony Evangelical creationists aren't doing that, of course, any more than an ultra-reactionary Pope playing footsy with wannabe fascists in Spain and Italy and getting channelled by the president of France and his ring kissed by Tony Blair. No, read: Europe is getting taken over by Muslims. And believe it if you are so inclined.

So what follows?


I think it is obvious that the United States cannot permanently do all the fighting for Western interests by itself. So, two conclusions are possible: Either there are no Western interests in the region and we don't fight. Or there are vital Western interests in the region and we have to fight.

And the fight is against radical Islam alone:

You cannot simultaneously attempt to overthrow the government of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan in the name of democracy and fight radical Islam. The democratization processes and the war against radical Islam have a different time frame.

So Afghanistan is not about nation-building or spreading democracy, it's about combat troops fighting radical Islamists in the south of the country. If I understand it rightly, it's about fighting to win. So how about cleaning up the tribal areas of Pakistan that are the base camp and refuge of the Taleban?

SPIEGEL: Barack Obama also says the conflict in Pakistan is the war Americans really need to win. Is he right?

Kissinger: You can always say there is some other war I would rather want to fight than the one I am in. What does it mean to fight the war in Pakistan? Should we use military power to control the tribal regions in Pakistan and to conduct military operations in a region which Britain failed to pacify in over 100 years of colonization? Should we use military force to prevent a radical take-over of the Pakistani government? Should we prevent the Pakistani state from splitting up into three or four ethnically based groups? I don't think we have the capacity to do that.

SPIEGEL: What about pushing for more military action against al-Qaida terrorists in the border regions with Afghanistan?

Kissinger: The audience listening to such exhortations believes that there is a master plan to bring another government there and that this democratic government will fight the tribal regions. In the short-term, this is an illusion.

There are some solid reasons there. Why is it, though, that they don't apply to the north-western reaches of those same mountains? Fighting on the Pakistani side is an illusion. But then what are Europeans being asked to do? Put in combat troops on the Afghan side of the region to hold back the forays of a fish-in-the-sea mountain guerrilla that has time on its side and can fall back on a broad and impregnable hinterland, which it is an illusion to imagine subduing? And this is how to defeat radical Islam?

Does Henry Kissinger deserve to persuade many Germans (or other Europeans) with this pitch?

Display:
How could one man and his legacy fuck up the world so badly?
by Upstate NY on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 11:28:41 AM EST
By having thousands of surrogates and admirers?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 11:31:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Milton Friedman.

America's neo-liberal legacy to the world.

Fortunately, few nations have actually followed their violent, misguided tenets.


The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 11:36:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
with some outstanding warrants in Spain and in France?

I hope Speigel made a bit of a mention of that in its backgrounder on the man.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 11:30:50 AM EST
The beatings will continue until morale improves, eh?

This fucking genius believes he can kill a religious idea - "radical Islam" - with a fucking army? Wow.  

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 11:35:30 AM EST
Knowing Kissinger, I wouldn't bet on he himself believing anything he says.

If I try to read between the lines, the objective is to line up 'allies' behind whatever the US does, not the fight itself.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 11:40:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Indeed. Kissinger continually skirts the line between offering analysis and engaging in politics for the Republican party. One more reason you can never take him seriously.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 03:03:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Terror is a method, so you can't fight it with an army. But radical Islam is a movement, so you can.

You don't appear to fully appreciate this what-you-said genius's genius.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 12:26:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Also in the Salon was Merkel's rejection of all the push and shove to go fighting. FT:

...In her most outspoken comments on Afghanistan since Germany came under pressure this month to send more troops, the German chancellor said she had "absolutely no time" for proposals to redeploy Nato troops within Afghanistan.

...Without naming specific countries, Ms Merkel told a meeting with foreign correspondents in Berlin that she was "worried about the current debate in Nato. We decided only a few years ago on a division of labour among Nato partners," she said, referring to the role of Germany's 3,300 troops in the relatively peaceful north and the responsibilities of other countries elsewhere.

For the record,

  1. I think Merkel realises that redeployment of fighting units in Southern Afghanistan would be domestic political suicide, even if she may not understand that it would be drawing vassals into the quagmire.

  2. My own opinion is that Kissinger et al are right in one respect: the German (and other European) poaition on Afghanistan is highly hypocritical, it is alibi participation in a mission that can clearly not achieve its objectives with its current size and leadership. If you want to be serious rather than "serious", either pull out immediately or increase troops tenfold.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 11:38:31 AM EST
Peter Scholl-Latour said some time ago in a talk show, that privately all MdBs he spoke with have admitted, that Germany is in Afghanistan because the USA wants it to be there. There is no strategic goal exept not to make the US gov too angry.
But what's wrong with that? After Germany was already the first country strongly opposing the war in Iraq, this time another country is in turn to do the first step.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers
by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 04:39:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My German brother-in-law is headed for Afghanistan this week, part of a NATO thing.  Seems to me like Germany must be making some contribution.  Wish I could have a chat with him about it, but that won't come til Autumn at least (and I want to knock wood when I say that.)

I don't know how he feels about going, but I know how the rest of us feel... and at least he knows I haven't and won't vote for anyone who voted for the war.

Christopher Hitchens (love him/hate him/love him/hate him) did history a favor with "The Trial of Henry Kissinger."

Karen in Austin

'tis strange I should be old and neither wise nor valiant. From "The Maid's Tragedy" by Beaumont & Fletcher

by Wife of Bath (kareninaustin at g mail dot com) on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 11:34:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What does it say about Der Spiegel that they continue to give this "man" a platform?

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 11:53:16 AM EST
I don't read Spiegel in German, but it seems so completely at home in American English it wouldn't feel right to read it in anything else.

And how about this banner?

Obama in the shadows with a calculating, worrisome upward cast of the eyes; Hillary a toothy grandma looking left and somewhat downwards; McCain confident, serene, gaze upward and left-to-right out of frame to the future.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 12:21:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I stopped reading The Mirror in either language when the editor exercised complete editorial censorship against his two top energy editors, causing one of them to resign after near 15 years.  all because he wanted to keep his view at his horse ranch in the Uckermark free from wind turbines.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 12:37:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
fundamentally challenging the secular structures of Western societies

I am continually astonished by how easily people like the Good Doctor can overlook the fact that the secular structures of Western societies have casually rested their boots on the neck of virtually all of the Arab/Muslim/Middle Eastern world for generations now.  It never seems to occur to them that any people anywhere, regardless of their ethnicity, religion, or location, might eventually grow tired of having a boot on their neck, and might seek to fundamentally challenge those wearing the boots.

We all bleed the same color.

by budr on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 02:17:11 PM EST
I just have one question which Kissinger even baited for Spiegel (and they didn't take it):

European Tribune - Comments - Dr Kissinger Calls

there are vital Western interests in the region and we have to fight.

What vital interests does Afghanistan hold for the West?

by Nomad (Bjinse) on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 05:10:43 PM EST
Well, he covered that : defeating radical Islam is the "vital Western interest" in this case.

But he also went in for some casuistry about why it had to be done in Afghanistan and not, for example, Saudi Arabia; and how it was an "illusion" to think it could be done in Pakistan.

So, basically, this "vital Western interest" Europeans must fight for doesn't apply concerning American allies/clients. Which makes me think that Henry Kissinger is not full of wisdom, but of something that smells bad.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 20th, 2008 at 01:29:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
SPIEGEL Interview with Henry Kissinger: 'Europeans Hide Behind the Unpopularity of President Bush' - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News
Either there are no Western interests in the region and we don't fight. Or there are vital Western interests in the region and we have to fight.

Kissinger is implying here that there are Western interests in Afghanistan (which I don't buy) - otherwise "we" shouldn't be fighting over there. He also uses the Domino theory for fundamental Islam (which I also don't buy) and says that a war is the only way to fight it (disagree fierecely). So, if I get this right, because in potentia Europe is threatened by the increasing polarization and fundamentalism (fed amongst others by the war doctrine of the USA itself) we should defend our interests already over there so we don't lose them here.

<head hurts of juggling different viewpoints>

The first description that comes to mind: Chinese finger trap.

by Nomad (Bjinse) on Wed Feb 20th, 2008 at 04:58:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yep, there's the domino threat and of course the destabilisation of our secular societies (I somehow don't think he was talking about the US there?). But it's just hints and insinuations.

And beneath the smoke, it's the beginning of a new NATO doctrine: open combat in parts of the world that are far from the alliance's original sphere of application, and according to US specifications.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 20th, 2008 at 04:20:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]


Display:
Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]

Top Diaries