Kissinger “Also” Calls for Baker-Hamilton Style “New Diplomatic Offensive”


Henry Kissinger has disclosed today in his important Washington Post op-ed, “Stability in Iraq and Beyond,” that he believes America should engage in discussions with Syria and Iran.
This is a big leap beyond the wrong-headed advice that Kissinger reportedly gave Bush and Cheney on Iraq, as reported by Bob Woodward, that “victory is the only exit.”
Although there are nuanced difference in Kissinger’s essay today and the proposals of the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group, they are remarkably close. And both essentially call for a “new diplomatic offensive.”
Kissinger writes:

Two levels of diplomatic effort are necessary:
~ A contact group should be created, assembling neighboring countries whose interests are directly affected and which rely on American support. This group should include Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan. Its function should be to advise on ending the internal conflict and to create a united front against outside domination.
~ Parallel negotiations should be conducted with Syria and Iran, which now appear as adversaries, to give them an opportunity to participate in a peaceful regional order. Both categories of consultations should lead to an international conference including all countries that have to play a stabilizing role in the outcome, specifically the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council as well as such countries as Indonesia, India and Pakistan.
Too much of the current discussion focuses on the procedural aspect of starting a dialogue with adversaries. In fact, a balance of risks and opportunities needs to be created so that Iran is obliged to choose between a significant but not dominant role or riding the crest of Shiite fundamentalism.
In the latter case, it must pay a serious, not rhetorical, price for choosing the militant option. An outcome in which Iran is approaching nuclear status because of hesitant and timid nonproliferation policies in the Security Council, coupled with a political vacuum in the region, must lead to catastrophic consequences.

This is progress.
Kissinger allegedly sees the President and Vice President more than any other external adviser on foreign policy and national security matters — and I hope that he gives them a copy of this essay, or at least the last few paragraphs.

— Steve Clemons


25 comments on “Kissinger “Also” Calls for Baker-Hamilton Style “New Diplomatic Offensive”

  1. Roland says:

    HK nails it: “a region on which the energy supplies of the industrial democracies depend.”
    It’s about oil.


  2. Evan Hutchison says:

    Thank God is all I can say. I really hope the Dems are listening and can get past Iran and Syria bashing to see the greater good- I hope the presidential hopefuls on both sides of the aisle in the Senate engage this constructively instead of waitng for the primaries to heat up.


  3. bAkho says:

    The Bush “pre-emptive engagement” is totally bankrupt. The Bush mantra diplomacy=appeasement is utter nonsense. Even Ghengis Khan conducted negotiations and to my knowledge he was never accused of appeasement.
    This group that is in power has a world view that is terribly destructive and harms the US position in the world. They should never be allowed to return to power. Republicans need to recognize these bad seeds and eliminate them from their party.


  4. DonS says:

    Well, via Think Progress, we are in even deeper shit than we knew. Sen. Warner is about to introduce an anti-escalation resolution
    If the Bush equation goes per usual, this indicates an increase in the danger of the mideast exploding even more. We all know how reasonable junior is when it comes to taking other’s advice, especially senior congressional military experts in his own party.
    Can’t say that Warner is trying to curry favor anywhere.
    Anyway, combined with the general sabre rattling out of the WH, it seems like the focus needs to be shifted from who the next president will be to how to get rid of the current one or, at the very least, effectively circumscribe his ability to wreck more havoc on the world, whether he is the main instigator or the tool, or both. I doubt that beginning the impeachment process would have such effect and, perhaps, exactly the opposite. Cutting the head off the neocon snake and burying it for good seems a priority.


  5. Frank says:

    No shit Dick Tracey. Just what do you think the ISG came up with?


  6. MP says:

    “The correct translation is “[T]his regime that is occupying Qods [Jerusalem] must be eliminated from the pages of history.”
    He is calling for regime change, not a nuclear genocide.”
    Hmm. You mean regime change like we’ve pursued in Iraq?
    Or do you mean regime change as in let’s vote Barack back in? Maybe he’s thinking of flooding the polls in Jerusalem with Iranian double agents who will then cast the decisive vote and “eliminate” the Ohlmert regime.
    I guess time will tell.
    Ahmadenijad is imploding. We should sit back and watch.


  7. David says:

    Kissinger v. Cheney? Don’t think much of either one of them, given the policies they’ve shepherded, but they are about as powerful as individually powerful gets. If they square off, it will be the backroom/front page brawl of the century. Frankly, I loathe Kissinger for what he has done, but it might be strange bedfellows time.
    I’m wondering if he’s gone from win to we’re gonna lose it all at this rate. Other possibility might be that this is the new assignment for Kissinger Associates.


  8. steve duncan says:

    The quickest way to assure Bush won’t do something in the realm of common sense is to relay to him a common sense suggestion. I imagine he rejects even his own private thoughts on issues once he finds they jibe with those of others outside the administration. Everyday is opposite day for Dubya.


  9. outtasight says:

    why is this pos War Criminal still a free man ?


  10. Jeff says:

    All Australians are to blame for terror suspect David Hicks still being held at Guantanamo Bay, former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett says.
    With Hicks now having spent five years imprisoned without trial, Mr Kennett said it was “unacceptable” that Australians had not rallied to bring him home.
    “I’m saying we’re all to blame,” Mr Kennett said.
    “You have a look at how the media and the public got involved in the campaign for (convicted drug trafficker) Schapelle Corby … compared with this. There is a total double standard there.”
    He said it was this factor, not any desire of the government to maintain its relationship with Washington, which had thwarted Mr Hicks being repatriated.
    “No, I don’t think that’s (maintaining the relationship) got anything to do with it because the UK has retained their strong relationship with the US, but has had all its residents returned to it,” he said.
    “It’s not just the Australian government. Don’t absolve yourself, or myself, or any Australian citizen from responsibility.
    “We’re all guilty of compliance in the fact that David Hicks is still there … I’m saying we’re all to blame.”
    Mr Kennett described Hicks’ plight as “lonely, very, very lonely”.
    He said he had expected Hicks to be brought to trial during the prisoner’s “first year or so” at Guantanamo Bay.
    “But we’re now into the sixth year … and he still hasn’t been brought to trial,” Mr Kennett said.
    “You just can’t put people in solitary, lock them up, without ever charging them in court.
    “Let’s not have double standards.”
    The 31-year-old Adelaide father of two has been detained at Guantanamo Bay military prison since January 2002, a month after he was captured with the Taliban in Afghanistan.
    He pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy, aiding the enemy and attempted murder at a US military commission hearing in August 2004, but the charges were struck out by a US Supreme Court ruling last June declaring the military commissions unlawful.
    Foreign Minister Alexander Downer indicated on Friday that the US had promised to lay new charges against Hicks “within weeks”.
    The Australian today reported that Hicks may face reduced charges.


  11. six_parnassus says:

    Short version.
    Kissinger: “Two levels of diplomatic effort are necessary:” Big stick. Bigger stick.
    Clemons: “This is progress.”
    What. No quotes from Spiro Agnew on the importance of being earnest?


  12. Carroll says:

    “In any event, Kissinger’s recommendation now is consistent with his tactics in the past: negotiate from positions of strength, seek to be closer to all one’s interlocutors than they are to one another, limit one’s objectives to those that can be attained, and finally seek to isolate the one country most hostile to American interests in such a way that the onus for the confrontation is on that country”
    Posted by Zathras at January 21, 2007 07:43 PM
    Yes, agree. Same Kissinger, wearing different racing colors but still riding the same horse.
    And parroting the same thing already said by others umpteen hundred times about gathering together neighboring nations to help with Iraq, which he thinks will help keep US dominant also.
    Kissinger is shit out of luck however, things aren’t in our court any longer thanks to pompous a-holes like him. I don’t even think his op-ed is worthy of note really.


  13. km4 says:

    Kissinger still thinks he’s still a power broker.
    F**k him…
    I’d like to see the true story of evil doings revealed to the general public so he can hang in effigy.


  14. mark says:

    Also, Iran has been misquoted for a while, making people believe Iran’s president wants to ‘wipe’ Israel off the map.
    The correct translation is “[T]his regime that is occupying Qods [Jerusalem] must be eliminated from the pages of history.”
    He is calling for regime change, not a nuclear genocide.
    This is an important mistranslation that should be corrected.


  15. mark says:

    Iran has every legal right to develope nuclear technology under the NNP Treaty. If we want a nuclear-free Middle East, Israel ought to give up its nuclear arsenal first, which would defuse the potential nuclear race emmensely.
    Also, it would help if US foreign policy tended not to occupy countries that lacked nuclear deterrence. How many nuclear powers have the US invaded?


  16. Zathras says:

    I can’t evaluate the advice Henry Kissinger has given the President since the beginning of the Iraq war, the extent to which that advice was taken, or even the extent to which it was understood. It appears the only source we have on that subject is Woodward, whose sources (now and in the past) apparently have not included Kissinger. Woodward could still be right, but his method of reporting has tended to tilt toward the people who agree to talk with him.
    In any event, Kissinger’s recommendation now is consistent with his tactics in the past: negotiate from positions of strength, seek to be closer to all one’s interlocutors than they are to one another, limit one’s objectives to those that can be attained, and finally seek to isolate the one country most hostile to American interests in such a way that the onus for the confrontation is on that country.
    It’s a good set of tactics, very applicable to the Iranian problem today. With respect to the Bush administration, though, it begs a number of important questions. Our position of greatest strength was several years ago, probably in the spring of 2003; now that America is mired in Iraq, can the administration still take advantage of what strength we still have in the region? Are Kissinger’s ideas about attainable objectives in the region the same as Bush’s? The same as Cheney’s? It seems unlikely. Granted that Iran with its current President has put itself in the wrong many times in the eyes of other governments, and probably will again. President Bush has shown a talent for this as well, which is at the least a major diplomatic liability.
    All this leads to the most important begged question, which is: who is going to direct this new diplomatic offensive? As I say, I like the recommended tactics; I agree with the direction Kissinger is pointing toward. The problem is that his recommended course could only be followed by an exceptionally talented diplomat, and I don’t mean talented at playing the piano. The State Department doesn’t even have all its senior positions filled, and its chief is…
    Look, Condoleezza Rice just isn’t very good as Secretary of State. She excels at managing her public image, and has a relationship of unquestioned intimacy with the President; for both these reasons she rates highly with Washington journalists. Nothing in her record suggests, though, that she could carry off the diplomacy Kissinger recommends here (or that the ISG — headed by another talented diplomat, James Baker — recommended a few weeks ago). That Sec. Rice can give interviews about the “strategic context” without ever indicating what she thinks her strategy, or her context, is ought to set off big flashing red warning lights even among image-conscious Washington reporters that this is a woman in way over her head.
    Of course there is a solution. It is for President Bush to replace Rice with someone better, and fill the senior positions in her department. I do know this is impossible. Honestly, though, I cannot for the life of me think of a set of policy recommendations clever enough to lead to success if the people who would have to implement them aren’t up to the drill.


  17. E. Wilson says:

    Kissenger is so ponderous. Wading through his turgid writing I see this:
    “They [American troops] are there as an expression of the American national interest to prevent the Iranian combination of imperialism and fundamentalist ideology from dominating a region on which the energy supplies of the industrial democracies depend.”
    I suppose this really has to be admitted if one doesn’t wish to appear a complete fool. As to the call for diplomacy is not even newsworthy, except for showing how utterly marginalized Bush/Cheny are, even among their most ardent supporters. What will they say to themselves now? “Look, Dick. Even old Kissenger is off his rocker now. Another gullible soul. Isn’t it amazing what great leaders we are!”


  18. Dennis says:

    Given that Kissinger was as much or more the cause of the tragedy of the Vietnam war as anyone (beginning at least with his and Nixon’s 1968 Christmas sabotage of a peace accord, and the insistance of both of them on an “honorable peace” – their honor, not the honor of those killed) and now probably the Iraq fiasco as well, why would anyone trust anything he has to say?
    You don’t have to be a blind conservative not to see it, just an ignorant one to deny it.


  19. Marcia says:

    There are all these conflicting legacies that have to be tended to.
    Is Kissinger suddenly worried he might be caught in two lost wars


  20. Steve Clemons says:

    Thanks for the link. That works for the time being.
    I will post it now.
    Steve Clemons


  21. ET says:

    Steve, I think this link may work for your readers to access the Kissinger piece:


  22. Diana says:

    Getting the message on Aussie values
    AS A British-born Australian citizen I’m getting the message loud and clear:
    â– I must embrace Australian values such as mateship and a fair go for all Australians (except David Hicks).
    â– I must support the rule of law (except for David Hicks). I think that includes innocent until proven guilty, the right to a speedy trial, seeing the evidence against me and no torture or coercion (except for David Hicks).
    â– Families matter and should be supported (unless you are Terry Hicks).
    â– I must care for the vulnerable and those in need (except for David Hicks).
    â– I should support democratic freedoms (except for David Hicks).
    â– I must tell the truth (unless it’s about David Hicks, Tampa, phone cards etc).
    â– And, of course, all Australians have the right to adequate physical and mental health care (except for David Hicks).
    I’m so grateful I have a Prime Minister who can teach me about values — but is there one in there about hypocrisy? Oops, must have missed it! Maybe it’s up the flagpole.
    Diana Thurbon, Keysborough


  23. Steven Clemons says:

    Jay C — trying to find an online version of it. best, Steve Clemons


  24. Jay C says:

    Can you provide a link to Dr. Kissinger’s op-ed? I checked the WaPo page, and it doesn’t seem to be on either the online or online-print editions.


  25. peter says:

    Downer beggars belief
    In his latest attempt to defend the indefensible, Alexander Downer relies on a three-minute observation of David Hicks by a Canberra-based US embassy spin doctor, during which Hicks did not even speak, to announce to the world at his New York press conference that Hicks is not suffering from any mental or physical illnesses. It sure makes it easy to see how AWB managed to pay $290 million in bribes to Saddam Hussein’s regime under Downer’s watch. The man is an incompetent fool and a national embarrassment.
    Peter Cain Greystanes


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