Archive for the ‘Kissinger’ Category

Finding common ground with Russia after Georgia

October 8, 2008

By Henry Kissinger and Paul Schultz
The Washington Post and International Herald Tribune

The crisis over Georgia raises an issue familiar from history: In 1914, an essentially local issue was seen by so many nations in terms of established fears and frustrations that it became global in scope and led to the First World War.

There is no danger of general war today. But there is the risk that a conflict arising out of ancestral passions in the Caucasus will be treated as a metaphor for a larger conflict, threatening the imperative of building a new international order in a world of globalization, nuclear proliferation, ethnic conflicts and technological revolution.

The presence of Russian troops on the territory of a state newly independent from the old Soviet empire was bound to send tremors through all the other countries that established themselves after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

This has evoked a rhetoric of confrontation, reciprocal threats and retaliatory countermeasures: American naval forces have been in the Black Sea; Russian military and economic capability has been displayed in the Caribbean as if from a 19th-century balance-of-power playbook.

The Georgian crisis is cited as proof that Vladimir Putin’s Russia is committed to a strategy of unraveling the post-Soviet international order in Europe. A strategy of isolating Russia has been advocated in response. The United States and Russia had been without high-level contact since early August until a recent meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Non-governmental contacts have been curtailed.

Read the rest:
http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/09/30/opinion/edkissinger.php

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Thirty-three Years Ago This Month: Total Communist Control of Vietnam Began

April 2, 2008

Introduction: This month marks 33 years since communist North Vietnamese bagan the total domination and denial of rights of the free and democratic people of South Vietnam.  Our friend and comrade in arms Hoi Ba Tran sent this reminder of those dark days for publication by Peace and Freedom.

To My Younger Generation: Grasp the Past to Pave the Future
By Hoi Ba Tran

Part 1 – Steal The Spotlight

During the nineteen-twenties, thirties and forties, anti-French colonial rule sentiment ran fervently high in Viet Nam (See Note 1 below). Several revolutionary parties sprang up trying to oust French colonists. Most of them failed as a result of tight French  security networks and they were better armed.

Many Viet Nam patriots were caught and received the death sentence while others were transported to Con Dao, a penal island in South China Sea (2), to serve a life sentence in hard labor. On February 10, 1930, an armed revolt was launched against the French around Hanoi by the Viet Quoc Party (3) but they were outgunned by the French and failed. Mr. Nguyen Thai Hoc, Chairman of the Viet Quoc Party and 12 other members of the Viet Quoc were beheaded in Yen Bai, North Viet Nam.

Subsequent to this tragic defeat, most anti-French colonial rule parties retreated to South China waiting for the ripe time to fight again for independence. With some support from the Chinese Kuomintang party, all Vietnamese Nationalist parties united under the name Viet Nam Cach Menh Dong Minh Hoi (4). Dang Cong San Viet Nam (5) headed by Ho Chi Minh was also a member.

Hồ Chí Minh
Ho Chi Minh

Fifteen years later, an unexpected event occurred that ousted the French. On March 9, 1945, three months prior to my tenth birthday, Japanese forces in Viet Nam launched a flash coup d’etat and toppled the French government. The following day, Japanese envoy granted Viet Nam her independence within Japan’s Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. Although it was not exactly what the Vietnamese had hoped for, at least the brutal French colonial regime was ousted.

Unfortunately, the superficial independence the Japanese granted Viet Nam lasted only five months. On August 6, 1945, the U.S. dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima and the second one on Nagasaki on August 9,1945. Japan could not withstand the nuclear devastation and capitulated unconditionally on August 14, 1945. This brought World War II to an end.

The capitulation of Japan and the end of World War II was the prelude to an unfortunate chain of events that destroyed Viet Nam. A few days after Japan’s surrender, the first round of bad luck struck Viet Nam when Japanese military officials in Hanoi turned over the government to the Vietnamese local authority. Exploiting this anarchy period, Ho Chi Minh, used his militia forces and armed propaganda units already embedded in Hanoi to topple local governments and seized power.

On August 28, 1945, Ho formally declared the country to be the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) (6) an independent nation as he proclaimed himself President while concurrently being Minister of Foreign Affairs. Ho appointed Pham Van Dong Minister of Finance and Vo Nguyen Giap as Minister of Interior. To deceive the hard line nationalist patriots, Ho invited the Emperor Bao Dai to be high counselor of his new government.

Then on September 2, 1945, at Ba Dinh square, Ho recited the Vietnamese Declaration of Independence which he plagiarized from the American Declaration of Independence in front of hundreds of thousands Vietnamese who were overjoyed with the unexpected and sudden independence. I, this writer, was 10 years old and was among the crowd as a member of the Vanguard Youth Group. I held a small red flag with a yellow star in the middle not knowing at the time it was a communist flag. At the instruction of our leader, we waved the flag and sang the song “Who loves Uncle Ho Chi Minh more than us young children” as taught.

By and large, most people in North Viet Nam were probably overly excited with the independence left by the Japanese not realizing that Ho was a wily, evil person and a devoted member of the International Communist Party until too late.

Following Ho’s assumption of power, he gradually showed his fiendish mentality and inhumane behavior to further his egocentric power. To him, the end justifies the means. When the tide of anti-French colonial rule was at its peak, Ho roguishly disguised himself as a nationalist patriot and exhorted the struggling to dislodge the French. But after having successfully hijacked the independence from the Vietnamese nationalists, Ho struck a deal with France on March 6, 1946 allowing French troops to return to Viet Nam north of the 16th parallel to supplant Chiang Kai-shek troops who were in Viet Nam to disarm the Japanese.

Chiang Kai-shek
蔣介石 / 蔣中正
 
GCB
Chiang Kai-shek

In return, France would recognize Ho’s government. Chiang Kai-shek agreed to withdraw from North Vietnam and allowed the French to replace them in exchange for French concessions in Shanghai and other Chinese ports. Ho’s plot was to get Chiang’s Army out of Vietnam because Chiang might be sympathetic with Ho’s potential opponents, the nationalist Vietnamese. Through this wily move, nationalist Vietnamese patriots considered Ho a traitor to the cause of revolution.

By June 1946, France proclaimed South Viet Nam to be under French control as Republic of Cochinchina. In the ensuing months, clashes between French and Ho’s forces, the Viet Minh (7), erupted more frequently and in November 1946, a French warship bombarded Hai Phong, a coastal city in North Viet Nam, causing heavy casualty to the Viet Minh. All these events precipitated the war between French forces and the Viet Minh leading to the Dien Bien Phu battle in 1954.

Being a devout communist, Ho followed Maoist policies overzealously. In a three-year period from 1953 to 1956 which Ho executed the Land Reform Campaign, his infamous and barbaric people’s tribunal killed approximately 50,000 so-called wicked landlords and about 50,000 to 100,000 were imprisoned (8) . Ho and his cadres aggressively imprisoned or even liquidated all Vietnamese patriots from non-communist parties in order to monopolize his despotic authority. Petty bourgeoisie elements were also Ho’s targeted enemy. In early 1954, Ho and the Viet Minh received substantial manpower and logistical supports from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to fight the French. Ho and the Viet Minh engaged in a set piece battle with the French at Dien Bien Phu garrison. Both, French and Viet Minh wanted to attain military superiority to use as leverage for the upcoming peace negotiation in Geneva. Unfortunately, the Viet Minh forces outgunned the French and also numerically outnumbered the French defenders at the garrison by five to one to.

French capitulated and agreed to sign an agreement in Geneva to end the war. The Agreement was signed in Geneva on July 21, 1954 between France, the PRC, the USSR, North Vietnamese communist Viet Minh, the United Kingdom, the State of Vietnam ( Emperor Bao Dai), Laos and Cambodia. This Agreement divided Vietnam into two separate countries at the 17th parallel. North Vietnam remained as the DRV, a communist country under Ho Chi Minh.

South Vietnam became a non-communist, independent country called the Republic of Vietnam (RVN) under Prime Minister Ngo Dinh Diem.

Part 2 – Ho Chi Minh – Patriot or Villain?

After the partitioning of Viet Nam, if Ho Chi Minh had been a true patriot, he should have contented with the independence which the country inherited bloodlessly at the departure of the Japanese. He must have known he was only a self-proclaimed President and not elected by the Vietnamese people. And he should have concentrated his conscientious efforts and committed all resources into rebuilding the war ravaged country as well as the dying economy in North Viet Nam.

He should have fulfilled his slogan he used to appeal millions of Vietnamese patriots who were willing to fight and to die for: Independence – Liberty – Happiness. Why did he not leave people in the South, the RVN, to live peacefully and to pursue their way of life? Why did Ho and the Viet Minh continue to scatter deaths and catastrophe across North and South Viet Nam?

If Ho and the Viet Minh had not been too greedy wanting to gobble up the RVN by force, both countries, the DRV and the RVN would have been peaceful and prosperous. There would have been no war. But it was unfortunate for the Vietnamese people on both sides to have such an evil man like Ho Chi Minh. It was Ho who dragged the DRV of the North and the RVN of the South into a long bloody internecine.

The proxy war between the DRV, the aggressor and, the RVN, in self-defense, ended thirty-three years ago on April 30, 1975. This war had been labeled with various names by U.S. journalists. Some called it the Viet Nam War and others called it the American War, the Civil War and also The Proxy War. I agree with the term “proxy war” because the undisputable fact is: The three superpower nations were principal patrons in this conflict. Two communist giants, the PRC and the Soviet Union (USSR) supplied manpower and military assistance to the DRV to expand communism in Southeast Asia. The U.S. financed, trained and equipped the RVN to contain communist expansion. As the intensity of the war escalated to the apex, the U.S. committed its combat troops to help the RVN. Inherently poor and underdeveloped, the DRV must totally depend on their patrons, the PRC and the USSR for military and economic support to wage war against the RVN. The RVN was no exception either as without logistical aids from the U.S., the defense of the RVN would have been very difficult.

During the war, the DRV had lots of advantages over the RVN. Their despotic regime aligned well with the PRC and the USSR, in this proxy war. All communist regimes were despotic in nature and had no checks and balances in their government. In the DRV, there was no freedom of religion, no freedom of speech or freedom of assembly. There were no sensational-oriented press corps because all news media, from prints to broadcast, were closely censored and strictly controlled by the party. Political opposition in their country would be viewed as reactionary or counter-revolutionary and would bring fatal consequences.

If Jane Fonda and Ramsey Clarke were Vietnamese citizens visiting Washington to praise America while publicly denouncing Ho Chi Minh, they would have been quietly liquidated upon returning to Hanoi.
Jane Fonda on the NVA anti-aircraft gun

Jane Fonda in North Vietnam on
a NVA anti-aircraft gun

Of course, there were no anti-war movements to interfere with their war efforts. Their troops were thoroughly and carefully indoctrinated with hatred of America. In their people’s armed forces, the political advisor had more authority than the unit commander did in decision-making and punishing wavering elements. Therefore, superficially, their rear base appeared solid and united. The red bloc ultimate drive was to conquer the RVN and expand communism in the region but tactfully cloaked under the name of “Fighting the Americans To Save Our Country”. The caddish Ho Chi Minh must have been praised for his skill to carry fire in one hand and water in the other!

On the contrary, the RVN, being an ally of the U.S. and the free world, was toddling into a newly adopted Western democracy. After centuries under feudalism, the general public was not ready to deal with the sudden changes and, for the most part, not prepared to exercise their freedom responsibly. During the war, while the public was unprepared and government officials also were not adequately trained to act and serve their constituents in a democratic fashion. Consequently, during the transitional process, there were unavoidable flaws, difficulties and dissatisfactions from the citizenry. Aside from these internal socio-administrative problems, the politburo in Hanoi exploited the situation to intrigue political dissidents, misled students and Buddhists followers to trigger chaos and confusions. Their underground communist cadres shrouded under political and religious dissident cover was the impetus behind anti-war demonstrations in Hue and Saigon leading to the overthrow of the Diem’s regime in November 1963. Following this disastrous event, the RVN encountered a period of political turmoil which to a certain degree, adversely affected the war efforts. It appears the expression “misfortunes never come alone” suited well to an ill-fated country like the RVN. While the situation in the RVN was not so favorable, her major ally, the U.S., was also facing a series of serious domestic political chaos.

Anti-war movements erupted wildly on many America’s streets:

The Kent State University fatal shooting incidence heightened anti-war sentiment.

The Pentagon Papers led to the Watergate scandal and the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon.
Richard Nixon
President Nixon

Jane Fonda, Ramsey Clarke, and some religious ministers went to Hanoi to praise the communist and denounced U.S. war policy publicly on North Vietnam’s radio.

Public support of the proxy war plummeted dramatically and the U.S. badly needed a strategy to exit Vietnam.

Part 3 – The Beginning of the End

The seriousness of domestic unrest in the U.S. compelled President Nixon to engage in political negotiation with Hanoi. On January 25, 1969, the Paris Peace Talk opened in Paris, France for the U.S. and Hanoi to negotiate an agreement to end the war. Knowing the anti-war sentiment in America had weakened, if not destroyed the U.S.’s will to continue the fight; Hanoi haughtily pushed for a military victory and kept stalling negotiation. After two years of deadlock because of Hanoi’s intransigence, the U.S. sought to talk to Hanoi’s patron, the PRC. Through back channel diplomacy, Dr. Henry Kissinger, Assistant to President Richard Nixon for National Security Affairs met with Chou En-lai, Prime Minister of the PRC in Peking, China to propose a fast solution to the Indochina conflict.
Henry Kissinger
Dr Henry Kissinger

The Memorandum of Conversation between Dr. Henry Kissinger and Prime Minister Chou En-lai clearly shows that the U.S. wanted a quick political fix instead of destroying or defeating the North Vietnamese communist. The meeting was in Peking, China on June 20, 1972. Kissinger and Chou initially talked about world events before embarking on the issues in Indochina, specifically Vietnam. Below are verbatim excerpts from this historical document (9) which determined the fate of the RVN:

– Prime Minister Chou: Yes, that might be one of the historical factors. And an additional one that there are such big competitions in the world. Now let’s go on to the Indochina question – I would like to hear from you.

– Dr. Kissinger: The Prime Minister said he had some observations he would like to make to me. May be we should reverse the places and let him talk first.

– Prime Minister Chou: These are questions on which there are disputes, and we would like to listen to you first to see your solutions of the problem.

– Dr. Kissinger: Is the Prime Minister’s suggestion that after he’s heard me I will be so convincing the disputes will have disappeared, and there will be no further need for him to make observations?

– Prime Minister Chou: I have no such expectations, but do hope the disputes will be lessened.

– Dr. Kissinger: I will make our candid assessment. I know it doesn’t agree with yours, but it is useful for you at any rate to understand how we see the situation. And it will take the situation from the start of the North Vietnamese offensive on March 10.

I believe that I have explained to the Prime Minister what our general objectives in Indochina are. It is obvious that it cannot be the policy of this Administration to maintain permanent bases in Indochina, or to continue in Indochina the policies that were originated by the Secretary of State who refused to shake hands with the Prime Minister. It isn’t… we are in a different historical phase. We believe that the future of our relationship with Peking is infinitely more important for the future of Asia that what happens in Phnom Penh, in Hanoi or in Saigon.

When President Johnson put American troops into Vietnam, you will remember that he justified it in part on the ground that what happened in Indochina was masterminded in Peking and was part of a plot to take over the world. Dean Rusk said this in a statement.
Lyndon B. Johnson
President Johnson

You were then engaged in the Cultural Revolution and not, from my reading it, emphasizing foreign adventures.

So that, the mere fact that we are sitting in this room changes the objective basis of the original intervention in Indochina. For us who inherited the war, our problem has been how to liquidate it in a way that does not affect our entire international position and − this is not your primary concern − the domestic stability in the United States. So we have genuinely attempted to end the war, and as you may or may not know, I personally started negotiations with the North Vietnamese in 1967 when I was only at the periphery of the government, at a time when it was very unpopular, because I believed there had to be a political end to the war.

So from the time we came into office we have attempted to end this war. And we have understood, as I told you before, that the Democratic Republic of Vietnam is a permanent factor on the Indochinese peninsula and probably the strongest entity. And we have had no interest in destroying it or even in defeating it. After the end of the war, we will have withdrawn 12,000 miles. The Democratic Republic of Vietnam will still be 300 miles from Saigon. That is a reality which they don’t seem to understand. (Page 28 – 29)

To reassure Chou En-lai the U.S. would normalize relationship with Hanoi in about 10 years, Dr. Kissinger promised:

– Dr. Kissinger: It is on one level. But on the other, when we make an agreement in Indochina, it will be to make a new relationship. If we can make it with Peking why can we not do it with Hanoi? What has Hanoi done to us that would make it impossible to, say in ten years, establish a new relationship? (Page 31)

And below is Dr. Kissinger’s statement in the last paragraph on page 37:

Dr. Kissinger: So we should find a way to end the war, to stop it from being an international situation, and then permit a situation to develop in which the future on Indochina can be returned to the Indochinese people. And I can assure you that this is the only object we have in Indochina, and I do not believe this can be so different from yours. We want nothing for ourselves there. And while we cannot bring a communist government to power, if, as a result of historical evolution it should happen over a period of time, if we can live with a communist government in China, we ought to be able to accept it in Indochina. (Page 37)

It was unknown if the PRC exerted any pressure on Hanoi after this Kissinger – Chou meeting. Nevertheless, Hanoi mulishly kept stalling negotiations while continuing to attack South Vietnam. Hanoi’s stubbornness infuriated President Nixon and he ordered a massive bombing campaign in North Vietnam to force Hanoi back to the negotiation table. The eleven-day deadly air raid during Xmas 1972 had accomplished what the U.S. wanted. Hanoi was on their knees and obediently returned to Paris for negotiation. From the operational and strategic point of view, the bombing must have continued to achieve a military victory when Hanoi had exhausted their air defense capability. But we, the U.S., unilaterally decided to stop the bombing, willingly declined a military victory, and was content to further negotiation with Hanoi!!!

Sir Robert Thompson, a renowned British counterinsurgency expert commented on the Xmas bombing campaign: “In my view, on December 30, 1972, after 11 days of those B-52 attacks on the Hanoi area, you had won the war, it was all over! They had fired 1242 SAM’s, they had none left, and what would have come in over land from China would be a mere trickle. They and their whole rear base at that point would be at your mercy. They would have taken any terms. And that is why of course, you actually got a peace agreement in January, which you had not been able to get in October”.

The RVN steadfastly refused to sign the Paris Peace Accord formulated by the U.S. and the DRV because it was dangerously in favor of the DRV. However, under repeated threats juxtaposed with serious promises by President Nixon to severely retaliate against Hanoi in the event of their violation, the RVN had no choice but to sign the agreement on January 27, 1973. A few months following the signing of the Paris Agreement, U.S. Congress passed an Amendment on June 19, 1973, forbidding all U.S. military involvement in Southeast Asia. On August 9, 1974, President Nixon resigned his presidency stemming from the Watergate scandal. On September 1974, U.S. Congress cut military aid to the RVN to the bone causing incalculable destruction to the morale of combat soldiers and the general public. During this time, the PRC and the USSR quadrupled their logistical support to Hanoi paving the way for the April 30, 1975 outcome.

In conclusion, the U.S. had to do what it must do because, as Kissinger explained to Chou in the meeting: “For us who inherited the war, our problem has been how to liquidate it in a way that does not affect our entire international position”, and because of “the domestic stability in the United States”. The fear of communist expansion or the domino theory disappeared with this Sino-U.S. rapprochement. Additionally, this would also open the potentially huge, lucrative market in mainland China for U.S. Corporations and investors. To achieve all these benefits, the U.S. arbitrarily accepted the deal with China in June 1972 at the expense of the RVN.

On the thirty-third anniversary of the close of that embittered chapter, as a former Vietnamese combatant of that war, I earnestly wish to reassure the younger generation of the Vietnamese American:

-In defense of our democracy in South Viet Nam against the communist, your elder generation had given, for the most part, their utmost best under the worst of circumstances. You can shamelessly look at any ignorant or misled bigot straight in the eyes with no inferior complex. These bigots may probably have been dully-influenced by slanted reports, books written by defeatist or liberal writers. You could help direct them to search for recently declassified national security documents and many impartial, honest accounts of the war portrayed by unbiased, honest writers.

To all my Vietnamese brothers-in arms:

-Of course we, the RVN and the ARVN, like most nations on earth, were not perfect. We had our share of inept political leaders as well as incompetent field commanders. We realize there were times our leader’s hands were tied by our major ally. We also understand we sacrificed many best years of our lives fighting despotism to protect liberty and freedom so our citizens could dissent and even undermine our effort. Yet we had fought courageously against overwhelming odds and hundreds of thousands of our friends lost their lives for the just cause. We did not win because the outcome was determined by superpower politics. Obviously it was way beyond the soldier’s responsibility. If we, the RVN, had it our way, unquestionably, the outcome of the war would have been different.

And to my American brothers in arms:

Through negotiation, our politicians settled with major world powers to end the war in Viet Nam politically. Following orders, you must withdraw from Vietnam. The last U.S. military unit left Viet Nam since March 1973. The final collapse of the RVN occurred on April 30, 1975. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the U.S. did not lose the war in Vietnam militarily. You have fulfilled the call of duty admirably. We salute you. We thank you for serving and for helping us in Viet Nam. Ironically, politics dictated the outcome. But don’t be bothered; only ignorant or misled individuals would buy the notion that America lost the war in Vietnam militarily.

(1) Correct spelling of Viet Nam must be two separate words.
(2) Also known as Poulo Condore, a penal island for political or high-risk prisoners.
(3) Viet Nam Quoc Dan Đang or Viet Quoc. Vietnamese Nationalist Party.
(4) Viet Nam Cach Menh Dong Minh Hoi aka Vietnamese Revolutionary Allied League.
(5) Vietnamese Communist Party.
(6) Democratic Republic of Viet Nam or Viet Nam Dan Chu Cong Hoa in Vietnamese.
(7) Viet Minh abbreviated for Viet Nam Cach Menh Dong Minh Hoi
(8) From Le livre noir du communisme, by Stéphane Courtois et. al, 1997.
(9) For complete details of Kissinger – Chou meeting, please check the link below: http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB193/HAK%206-20-72.pdf

Consequences of Speedy Withdrawal From Iraq?

March 31, 2008

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
March 31, 2008

Every time I hear someone like Barack Obama talk about an immediate removal of American troops from Iraq, I say to myself: “you will condemn unknown millions to death and torture.”Even former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski believes a speedy U.S. troop removal will be a good thing.  And he said he supports Mr. Obama.

Writing in the Washington Post yesterday (March 30, 2008), Mr. Brzinski said, “The contrast between the Democratic argument for ending the war and the Republican argument for continuing is sharp and dramatic. The case for terminating the war is based on its prohibitive and tangible costs, while the case for ‘staying the course’ draws heavily on shadowy fears of the unknown and relies on worst-case scenarios. President Bush’s and Sen. John McCain’s forecasts of regional catastrophe are quite reminiscent of the predictions of ‘falling dominoes’ that were used to justify continued U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Neither has provided any real evidence that ending the war would mean disaster, but their fear-mongering makes prolonging it easier.”

Ironically, many of the same liberals who demand an immediate withdrawal of American troops from Iraq are the same ones who believe they are great protectors of human rights and also suffer from the dream that America’s withdrawal from Vietnam was justified and made Southeast Asia a better place.

The truth is: America’s departure from Vietnam meant death, torture and imprisonment for millions of Vietnamese and Cambodians. Both contries became communist — which is hardly a good thing. 

In my view, America’s withdrawal from Vietnam was the biggest tragedy of American foreign policy during the last century. America’s withdrawal from Vietnam is a gigantic black mark on America’s history.

Yesterday, Dith Pran died. Dith Pran is the person who called the carnage in Cambodia after America left Vietnam “The Killing Fields.”

Mr. Max Boot, writing in today’s Washington Post said, “Why am I not reassured by Zbigniew Brzezinski’s breezy assurance in Sunday’s Outlook section that ‘forecasts of regional catastrophe’ after an American pullout from Iraq are as overblown as similar predictions made prior to our pullout from South Vietnam? Perhaps because the fall of Saigon in 1975 really was a catastrophe. Another domino fell at virtually the same time — Cambodia.”

Mr. Boot continued, “Estimates vary, but a safe bet is that some two million people died in the killing fields of Cambodia. In South Vietnam, the death toll was lower, but hundreds of thousands were consigned to harsh ‘reeducation’ camps where many perished, and hundreds of thousands more risked their lives to flee as ‘boat people.’”

How do I know personally about the carnage of refugees when America departs from a far away war zone? I am married to a former prisoner of communism and a refugee who was born in Vietnam.

Saigon fell to the communists in 1975. My bride made it to America in 1998. She considers herself one of the “lucky ones.”

Just yesterday, as my wife and I were teaching English to Vietnamese-Americans, a man named Chien told me that in 1975 his father was given three days notice by the communists to report for reeducation. He was gone for six years and ten months. When he returned, he had lost nearly half his body weight due to overwork, malnourishment and harsh conditions with no medial care.

Chien’s father considered himself one of the “lucky ones” — because he had seen so many tortured and seen so many deaths.

One of the most degrading and harmful crimes committed against refugees is rape. Pirates, criminals, police, guards, soldiers even sometimes representatives of the United Nations have been known to rape refugees.

The criminal act of rape is not so much a sexual act of gratification, according to psychologists. Instead, in the case of refugees, it is a barbaric act of power, control and forced compliance with any order or directive.

After hearing countless stories of rape and humiliation related to me by Vietnamese refugees and “boat people” who fled communist Vietnam between 1975 and the late 1990s, I thought it might be useful to share some small bits of these stories without using the real names of any of the victims.

May was about 25 years old when she left Saigon and began to run away from communism and toward freedom. She traveled with her family to the sea coast and as a group they paid a broker about $1,000 per person for the privilege of leaving Vietnam by boat.

They transited by sea toward Thailand and freedom but they had never heard about the pirates plying the seas in search of the vulnerable and weak.

May’s entire family and everyone else in her boat suffered the horrible fate of being descended upon by armed pirates. Four Vietnamese men were killed in the attack and two more were slaughtered because they did not react quickly enough to the orders of the pirates. One man was beheaded by the pirates in front of the horrified refugee women and children.

May and all the other women in the boat were raped repeatedly. But, because she was one of the youngest and most beautiful women in the boat, May was singled out for special humiliation, abuse and torture. Her arms were tied so each spread out parallel to the deck and away from her torso. The lines were knotted painfully tight so that she could not move. She looked like someone subjected to crucifixion. Then her ankles were bound and tied so that her legs were apart. More than 22 men had they way with May before she lost consciousness.

When she regained the ability to think, she felt unbearable pain and shame and embarrassment. He own mother cut her down after the pirates left and tended to her bleeding.

When this refugee boat made landfall in Thailand, every woman was “rinsed out” without her own consent or authorization. The Thais didn’t want any pregnant refugees on their hands.

“And the cost of entering Thailand and the cost of entering the refugee camp was rape,” a Vietnamese American woman told us.

“My sister was raped 13 times,” she said.

“Many of my relatives disappeared. We are sure they must have been killed.”May wound up in the infamous Thai refugee center called “Sikhiew Camp.” She estimated that in her two year stay there she was raped about 60 more times.

Another Vietnamese woman named Suan told me a heartening story about the value of human life.

Like May, Suan was raped on the boat trip from Vietnam to Thailand. When she debarked from the boat in Thailand and saw the women being rinsed out, she faked an illness and refused the procedure. For some reason the Thai police sent her on her way to the refugee camp.

A few months later Suan realized that she was pregnant. All of her relatives and friends told her to abort the baby – and an old woman said she knew how to carry out the procedure as painlessly as possible.

Suan, a Roman Catholic who believed abortion to be a sin, prayed for two weeks for guidance. Then she told her mother she would need help having “her baby.”

Suan gave birth to a baby boy while in the refugee center. Today he is an American citizen who is a policeman in New England.

Suan’s decision to have her baby — a baby forced upon her by a man she didn’t know and didn’t love — turned out to be a good one. A real lesson in the value of human life and our ability to overcome hardship.

So when I hear people talk about quickly pulling American troops out of Iraq without discussing the implications for so many in that region who will then be at risk, I think about the refugees and their hardship. I live among them every day.

I live among the “lucky ones,” because millions died and we’ll never know how many.

Related:
Zbigniew Brzezinski’s Plan to End Iraq War

How Not to End the War
By Max Boot

‘Killing Fields’ survivor Dith Pran dies

Disaster of Hasty Withdrawal
By Henry Kissinger

Vietnam After the Fall of Saigon: 1975 Until Present

The Fall of Saigon: 1975 (Part II)

The Fall of Saigon: 1975 (Part I)

Thailand’s Criminal Abuse of Refugees: a Shameful 30+ Year Saga

Two Paths In Pakistan: Security and Democracy

March 10, 2008

By Henry A. Kissinger
The Washington Post and
Tribune Media Services
March 10, 2008

The elections in Pakistan, far from calming the political crisis, have opened a new phase of it, and the world has a huge stake in the outcome. Pakistan is at the front line of the assault by Islamist radicalism on moderate elements within the Muslim world and on the institutions of the West. But it is far from clear how firm that front is and, indeed, in which direction it will ultimately face. Pakistan is America’s ally in the war on terror, yet a significant part of its people are opposed to that war; Pakistan helped fight al-Qaida in Afghanistan, yet part of its western frontier is occupied by al-Qaida and the Taliban.

Pakistan’s choices will have a significant impact on the 160 million Muslims living in India, as well as on the prospects of peace on the subcontinent, which has already erupted into full-scale war on three occasions.

Most critically, Pakistan is a nuclear power. Athwart strategic crossroads and possessing strategic weapons, Pakistan might lose control of both if its institutions are radicalized or deadlocked as a result of internal conflict. A state occupying strategic terrain but incapable of maintaining control over it could turn into the wildcard of international diplomacy.

The stakes are generally recognized. The remedy has proved elusive. U.S. policy has been to urge President Pervez Musharraf into forming a coalition government with one or more civilian parties, which would then pursue the anti-fundamentalist war in a more coherent and determined manner. That outcome was what the election was supposed to produce.

The goal was laudable. But the results of the election — as in Gaza — show that theoretical preconceptions do not necessarily provide practical remedies, especially in the short run. The challenge for policymakers arises when vital national security objectives are threatened and no viable democratic framework exists. The choice America faced in Pakistan in the aftermath of 9/11 was that Musharraf had taken over less than two years earlier and that the two main political leaders, Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, both deposed prime ministers, were in exile. In an ideal world, political and security goals would move on parallel tracks.  In many actual cases, the tracks, even if parallel, may operate by different time scales.

In Europe, the nation and a functioning civil society preceded the formation of democratic institutions. In almost every successful democracy, the constitutional framework is treated as more important than any conflicts within it and guides the process of settling disputes. The opposite is the case in the crescent from the border of India to the shores of Africa. In the absence of a civil society, the losers in a political contest have few motives to subordinate their convictions to the general good, since the definition of the “general good” is precisely what is at issue. In such circumstances, democratic pluralism lacks a social basis — especially in states proclaiming the identity of church and state in the name of a universal religion. Crises are more often sharpened than solved by elections. Political cohesion being forever precarious, coalitions are fragile and authority oscillates between being tenuous or all-pervasive — even in Europe, as in ethnically divided parts like Yugoslavia or Belgium, if the latter in attenuated form.

It surely has been the case in Pakistan. Formed in the partition of British India in 1947 because the Muslim minority rejected rule by the majority Hindu population, its eastern borders the dividing line between the Hindu and Moslem religion, its western borders those of the British raj, Pakistan reflected not a common history so much as a common fear. Until 1971, an East Pakistan region existed — also defined by its Muslim religion — but separated by 2,000 miles of Indian territory from West Pakistan.

Even after East Pakistan seceded to form the new state of Bangladesh, Pakistan was beset by regional conflicts. Punjab’s predominance was resisted in the Sindh region and Baluchistan. The northwest frontier territories remained, as they had under British rule, autonomous; no government, civilian or military, has ever succeeded — or even seriously attempted — to establish its own direct control there.

These circumstances produced the special character of Pakistani foreign and domestic policy. In international affairs, Pakistan allied itself with the United States during the Cold War, if with a special perspective. It received American arms as part of the geopolitical conflict with the Soviet Union, even while it perceived India as its principal security concern. Pakistan proved enormously helpful in facilitating the opening of American relations with China but more for the purpose of creating an additional obligation than devising a common global strategy.

Though elections were held periodically, they usually reflected regional populist loyalties. Governed by feudal principles, the parties were organized for no-holds-barred political contests not mitigated by the restraint imposed by a sense of community. Civilian and military government alternated with each other. No elected government has ever served out its term.

Of the major groupings, Bhutto’s party represented the large landholders of the Sindh province around Karachi; Sharif’s party the commercial classes of the Punjab. Both parties practiced a rampant populism, with Bhutto leaning to left-wing secularism; Sharif relying more on an appeal to Muslim fundamentalists. The feudal organization of the parties is demonstrated by the fact that, within 48 hours of Bhutto’s assassination, her husband, in exile in Dubai after eight years in prison, was appointed de facto head of her party. Sharif, who recently returned from exile, had been overthrown after what Musharraf, then commander of Pakistan’s armed forces, alleged was an assassination plot against him in which he claimed Sharif was implicated.

With populism as the dominant method — if required, tinged with anti-Americanism — the temptation to use radical Islamist movements was ever present. In the 1990s, the Bhutto and Sharif governments cooperated with the fundamentalist Taliban in Afghanistan and jihadist groups in Kashmir. The military intelligence service used similar methods when the military controlled the government. A government-tolerated “private” network facilitated nuclear proliferation to a number of rogue states.

In such an environment, the relation between Pakistan’s three feudal-type organizations, the military and the major political parties, has more of the character of those among Italian city states during the Renaissance described by Machiavelli than of the party politics of traditional democracies. They have occasionally made temporary alliances — as they appear to be doing now — for tactical purposes, but these have always proved preludes to new confrontations with the military appearing as arbiters in the end. The difference between feudal leaders who wear uniforms and those in civilian clothes is in their constituencies, not in their commitment to a pluralistic process as we understand it.

An alliance between Bhutto, whose father was executed by the military, and Musharraf, who hated the Bhutto family, was destined to be precarious. It was doomed by the impatience with which it was pursued. The unforgivable atrocity of the Bhutto assassination ended the original design.

At this point, any attempt to manipulate the political process that we have urged is likely to backfire. A wise policy must recognize that the internal structure of Pakistani politics is essentially out of the control of American political decision-making. Construction of a centrist coalition is a commendable goal, but the conditions for it can only be nurtured by Pakistani political forces and, in the absence of a center, require patience over a period of time.

The future of President Musharraf will undoubtedly become a major issue as the potential coalition partners seek his removal. It is his task as president — not ours — to manage the consequences of the election. At the same time, it behooves us to remember the valiant support Musharraf gave the U.S. military effort in Afghanistan after 9/11 and his confrontation with jihadist fundamentalism at home. Conspicuous American dissociation would only compound our risks in Pakistan — not to mention the message it would send to other leaders in the region allied to America.

In dealing with the emerging Pakistani leadership, American policy should focus on national security objectives (control of nuclear weapons, counterterrorism cooperation and resistance to Islamist radicalism). Our democratic principles should be clearly conveyed, but we should have learned by now that the evolution of the immediate political process is beyond our reach. Common approaches on the security issues are necessary, including an end of ambiguity toward terrorist enclaves. For most of its history, Pakistani leaders, whether civilian or military, have acted on the principle that good relations with America were in Pakistan’s national interest. A strategic consensus remains imperative. If that effort fails, many countries will be affected and, perhaps more immediately, Pakistan’s stability should not be viewed as an exclusively American challenge.

A starting point is to reconcile ambivalent American attitudes at home, difficult as it may be during an election campaign. We do not have the choice between national security and democratic evolution. Both are important objectives but may be achievable only on different time scales. The next president will have to face this reality in many places, and we can do him or her a favor by conducting our national debate from that perspective.

Vietnam Sovereignty: Danger Signals

December 24, 2007

Original Vietnamese version by Tran Binh Nam;
English version by Le Khac Ly

On November 20, 2007, the government of China endorsed a resolution to establish an administrative city at county level named “Tam Sa”, which consists of three archipelagoes of Hoang Sa, Trung Sa (Macclesfield Bank, a submerged reefs of 6,250 square kilometers located on the east and about 250 km from the center of Hoang Sa), and Truong Sa, directly dependent on the province of Hai Nam. This province was established in 1988 after it was separated from the province of Quang Dong. Due to the sensibility of the subject, the resolution has not been publicly released.

Hoang Sa (Paracels) and Truong Sa (Spratleys) are located offshore of Vietnam. The archipelagoes of Hoang Sa are situated between latitudes 16 and 17 north, directly administered by the city of Da Nang and the center of the archipelagoes is 350 kilometers away from Da Nang. The archipelagoes of Truong Sa are much bigger, spread from latitudes 7 to 11 north, directly dependent on the province of Khanh Hoa, and if observed from the city of Nha Trang facing South East, its center is 600 kilometers away from the Vietnamese shore.

During French domination (from the mid 19th century to 1945), then successively during the administration of the Tran Trong Kim cabinet, the government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, the government designated by Chief of State Bao Dai, these two archipelagoes were under the jurisdiction of the governments of Vietnam and were undivided parts of Vietnam.
During their domination, the French set a meteorological station on the biggest island of the archipelagoes of Hoang Sa. After the Geneva Accords in 1954 to divide the country into two parts, the two archipelagoes of Hoang Sa and Truong Sa, which are located below latitude 17; therefore belonged to the Republic of (South) Vietnam. Warships of this government frequently went to carry out re-supply missions to a military garrison unit at Hoang Sa, and always conducted patrols to keep an eye on the cluster of islands around Truong Sa.

Back in history, from the17th century, every year, the Nguyen Lords always sent ships to Hoang Sa and Truong Sa, and created a naval unit called North Sea Naval Unit whose mission was to protect those islands. A chronicle by the Chinese Buddhist Monk Thich Dai San written in 1696 confirms those facts. In his historical document written in 1776, the Vietnamese scholar Le Quy Don described in details the archipelagoes of Hoang Sa.

The sovereignty of Vietnam over Hoang Sa and Truong Sa has been mentioned in all historical documents written after the unification of the country by The Emperor of Gia Long (1802) such as Du Dia Chi, Dai Nam Thuc Luc, Dai Nam Nhat Thong Chi. .

There were no western documents depicting Chinese sovereignty over Hoang Sa and Truong Sa. Even in Chinese documents, written before 1909, none of them mentioned that the two archipelagoes Hoang Sa and Truong Sa belong to China.

In 1958, the Chinese began a plan to invade Vietnamese land after Mao had solidly established a communist regime in his century-long-intimidated- by-western-influences country. On September 4, 1958, China published a declaration saying that its territorial sea now is 12 nautical miles from shore to ocean instead of 3 miles as previously established, with a map attached, intentionally showing a boundary of its sea territory embracing Hoang Sa and Truong Sa as they belong to China.

Ten days later, on September 14, 1958, the Prime Minister of the government of North Vietnam, Pham Van Dong, signed a diplomatic note recognizing the Chinese declaration of its new territorial sea changing from 3 to 12 nautical miles, tacitly accepting that Hoang Sa and Truong Sa belong to China. Thanks to this diplomatic negligence (or intentionally, this still is a subject to be debated), China has developed plans to encroach little by little on Vietnamese land and sea territories.During this period of time, China could not yet do anything with the two archipelagoes Hoang Sa and Truong Sa since they were belonged to South Vietnam according to the Geneva Accords of 1954, and South Vietnam was an ally of the United States. It is noteworthy that at the time, the US Seventh Fleet was a dominant power in the Pacific.

The great opportunity arrived in the 1970s when the Vietnam War moved to the ending phase. Hanoi was about to take over South Vietnam through the Paris Agreements, which meant the Hanoi regime would eventually control Hoang Sa and Truong Sa. The United States did not want the Soviet Union, through the Hanoi government, to use Hoang Sa and Truong Sa as observation stations watching all activities in South Pacific, which could cause trouble for the waterway from Indian Ocean crossing through the Malacca straits, up to the North-West Pacific, a vital route for the US fleets. It is also an oil supply route from the Middle-East to Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea, the U.S. allies. The US had settled it, through a meeting in Beijing between Henry Kissinger, the US Secretary of State and Chu An Lai, the Chinese Prime Minister, by agreeing to let China occupy the archipelagoes of Hoang Sa, blocking the path toward South Pacific of the USSR fleets. At this moment, the relationship between Hanoi and Moscow was smooth, while its relationship with China was at the low ebb. Meanwhile, the US had just established diplomatic relations with Beijing and both saw the USSR as a threat to the region. (See document “Bien Dong Day Song [East Sea Blazes Up] no.118, http://webmail.central.cox.net/do/redirect?url=http%253A%252F%252Fwww.tranbinhnam.com%252F, Commentary pages).

In the end of January 1974, as a result of that unwritten mutual agreement, the Chinese Navy took over Hoang Sa, after a fierce naval battle with the South Vietnam Navy. The US Seventh Fleet had been asked for help but neither intervened nor rescued Vietnamese sailors drifting at sea. [The US government made a good gesture by soliciting the Chinese to release the prisoners captured at Hoang Sa within a month. Mr. Gerald Kosh, an American working for DAO (Defense Attaché Office) at the US Embassy in Saigon – also captured at Hoang Sa – was released with five wounded Vietnamese sailors earlier on Jan. 31, 1974. Other 43 sailors and soldiers were released on February 15, 1974.]

For its part, Hanoi never raised its voice to protest China’s invasion. Hanoi would believe that it was better to let Hoang Sa to fall into the hands of a communist country than leaving it in the hands of South Vietnam.

After the collapse of Soviet bloc in 1991, the reconciliation between Hanoi and China had given the latter the momentum to begin gnawing land in the northern border of Vietnam, and sea territory in the gulf of Tonkin, and particularly little by little to swallow the archipelagoes of Truong Sa. In addition to its strategic location in the region, archipelagoes of Truong Sa today also are a shelf of ocean bed promisingly rich in oil and gas.

Hanoi has shown its feeble spirit when facing the obvious invasion of China. The unique weapon that Hanoi is using up to this day is some perfunctory words of protest from its Department of Foreign Affairs.

This time, facing the resolution of the China government to officially integrate Vietnamese territory into theirs, Hanoi again protests weakly. During a press conference on December 5, 2007, Mr. Le Dung, the spokesman of the Department of Foreign Affairs, said: “Vietnam has obtained complete historical evidence and legal basis to affirm the sovereignty of Vietnam towards the two archipelagoes of Hoang Sa and Truong Sa. This act has violated the territorial sovereignty of Vietnam, not agreeable with general perception of the leaders of two countries, not beneficial for the process of negotiation to seek for a fundamental and lasting measure for the sea problems of two parties”.

To the act of China appropriating Vietnamese territory brazenly and officially on papers, the Vietnamese at home and abroad are extremely angry. They are waiting for Hanoi government to take strong action to protect the national frontier, like the invasion-fighting tradition of our ancestors.

It is regrettable that until today, the Hanoi government has not do anything except utter few words to confirm the sovereignty of Vietnam over the archipelagoes of Hoang Sa and Truong Sa. When students of the Technology College which is part of National University System of Hanoi prepared a demonstration in front of the Chinese Embassy, university officials obeying (communist) party authority issued a circular requesting students and cadres of the school to be calm and not demonstrate, because that would “not be beneficial for the process of negotiation to find fundamental and long-lasting measure for sea problems of two parties.”

Hanoi government, however, could not prevent students from taking to the streets on December 9, 2007 in both cities of Hanoi and Saigon to protest the Chinese invasion. But, in order to avoid offending China, when asked about the demonstrations, Le Dung said: “This is a spontaneous act of the people, not authorized by the authorities. When it occurred, the police were timely present to explain and to request fellow citizens to stop doing that”. Le Dung continued to explain Vietnam’s point of view which is “to have all conflicts solved peacefully through negotiations on legal base and international reality.” Hanoi obviously did not do what needed to be done to protect the country.

If the balance of naval forces between China and Vietnam does not allow Vietnam to send warships to hoist national flags on the archipelagoes of Truong Sa to confirm its sovereignty, at least as a minimum, Hanoi should convene the Chinese ambassador to the Department of Foreign Affairs to receive a protesting diplomatic note. Hanoi may convene the people Congress to pass a resolution confirming the sovereign rights of Vietnam over Hoang Sa and Truong Sa.

Next, Hanoi should take the issue to the UN Security Council with a dossier of complete historical documents to prove the sovereignty of Vietnam over the two disputed archipelagoes, then prepare a strong resolution to accuse Chinese invasion for the Security Council to debate.

In reality, the veto power of China will prevent the passage of the resolution, but Vietnam may get 9 of 15 votes of the Security Council reflecting the international opinion in favor of Vietnam. Those documents and the resolution submitted by Vietnam to the UN Security Council will be used as a foundation for present government to mobilize people power to protect Truong Sa, and for next generations to conduct the fight to reclaim the archipelagoes of Truong Sa, and to nullify the Chinese integration of Truong Sa. In addition, Hanoi should file a case to the international court suing China for the invasion and nullify the resolution of the Chinese National Affairs Institution.

The above are what a country with sovereignty should do in the defense of the motherland. What makes the leaders in Hanoi stuck, and cannot do what they should do? The only reason that may explain Hanoi behavior is that the Vietnamese communist party who is presently in power in Vietnam is controlled by the Chinese government by a fifth column in the highest leadership.If that is true, Vietnam is facing the greatest danger in its four thousand years history.

“Gaffe Machine” Karen Hughes Leaving State Department

October 31, 2007

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
October 31, 2007

An American gaffe machine gets set to go home.  Good riddance.  No amount of costuming on this Halloween can convince us that Mrs. Hughes made a valuable contribution to U.S. foreign policy.

We are not big fans of the U.S. State Department these days so the announcement that Karen Hughes will leave and return to Texas didn’t break any hearts here.

Mrs. Hughes was give her cushy Foggy Bottom job by her pal George W. Bush. When she came to State — amid much publicity and hoopla — the world was informed that Mrs. Hughes would take charge of “winning over the world’s hearts and minds.”

Mrs. Hughes was supposed to restore respect for America and highlight the importance of America’s lustrous democracy.

Mrs. Hughes didn’t exactly impress anyone in the world outside of her buddy at the White House.

Officially, Mrs. Hughes is Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs.

On her fist major trip as America’s “Goodwill Ambassador,” Mrs. Hughes proved that she was a gaffe machine with little knowledge of the Arab world.

John Brown wrote in The Second Coming of Karen Hughes on August 9, 2007 in the Huffington Post: “her infamous ‘listening tour’ to the Middle East in the fall of 2005 — was ridiculed by both the US and international media as an illustration of her ignorance (she disclosed, to an Egyptian opposition leader, that our Constitution cites “one nation under God”) and lack of cultural sensitivity (she offended some Saudi women by reproaching them for not having the right to drive). After that disastrous overseas venture, she seemed to keep a lower profile, and by 2006 was practically off the media radar screen, especially during the Second Lebanese War. When she did engage in rare (for her official position) public events (many directed to American audiences to show them how good we US citizens were because of our compassionate-conservative aid to less fortunate foreigners) she was not infrequently criticized, including by the right-wing media, which accused her of being too accommodating to Muslim organizations like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).”

Today, the Fox News Channel is extolling Mrs. Hughes’ many accomplishments and achievements. They even allowed Mrs. Hughes to go on screen to brag about, well, herself.

U.S. Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs ... 
Charm machine turned into a gaffe
machine right in front of the world.

But polls show no improvement in the world’s view of the U.S. since Hughes took over. A Pew Research Center survey earlier said the unpopular Iraq war is a persistent drag on the U.S. image and has helped push favorable opinion of the United States in Muslim Indonesia, for instance, from 75 percent in 2000 to 30 percent last year.

“The great irony of this administration is that its opponents credit it with being masterful at spin,” wrote Mr. Jim Hoagland of the Washington Post on September 3, 2006.

“When it is in fact pathetic in managing its messages and its collective image. Whatever small credit Bush was gaining for becoming more realistic about Iraq was quickly wiped out by the controversy created by sharply partisan speeches of Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld last week in the latest example of a gang that can’t spin straight,” Mr. Hoagland concluded.

When asked by NBC News reporter Brian Williams on August 29, 2006 why there is so much anti-American sentiment and out-right hatred for America in many parts of the world., President Bush said “We are great with TV but we are getting crushed on the P.R. [Public Relations] front.”

About a month later Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld mused, “The enemy is so much better at communicating. I wish we were better at countering that because the constant drumbeat of things they say — all of which are not true — is harmful. It’s cumulative. It weakens people’s will and lessens their determination, and raises questions in their minds as to whether the cost is worth it.”

So if the President and his cabinet were Mrs. Hughes’ “customers,” it is difficult to find them happy about her performance.

We were ourselves so distressed by Mrs. Hughes that we made up a word to describe her gaffes: “Misunderspinning.” She just couldn’t get the hang of the spin game and often looked over her head.

And what have former Secretaries of State said?

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell said: “Are Iran and Syria regimes that I look down upon? I certainly do. But at the same time I’ve looked down on many people over the years in the course of my military and diplomatic career and I still had to talk to them.”

Powell made the observation on “Face the Nation,” the CBS Sunday morning talk show with Bob Schieffer last December.

Secretary Powell has no illusions that a dialogue with Iran, for example, would change their direction in the pursuit of nuclear weapons, but most former Secretaries of State adopt the position that “Talking and engagement with all nations can have some merit.”

But the official policy of the White House and the State Department was not to dialogue with Iran, North Korea and Syria.

At about the same time that former Secretary Powell made his criticisms, the Iraq Study Group headed by another former Secretary of State, James Baker, and former Rep. Lee Hamilton — a noted expert in international thinking — were saying that America should engage all nations and not ignore places like Iran.

Secretary Powell’s position and that of Mr. Baker and Hamilton rests in sharp contrast to that of President Bush and the current Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who branded Syria, Iran and North Korea members of the “Axis of Evil” and broke all relationships and dialogue with these nations at the start of the war against terror in 2001.

Still, the commission said, “Given the ability of Iran and Syria to influence events within Iraq and their interest in avoiding chaos in Iraq, the United States should try to engage them constructively.”

Another former Secretary of State, Dr. Henry Kissinger, has also made remarks disparaging to the “no-discussion diplomacy” of Secretary Rice and Mrs. Hughes.

When asked by the BBC’s Andrew Marr on November 19, 2006, about Kissinger’s plan to remove U.S. troops from Iraq, Dr. Kissinger responded, “At some point I think an international conference – at some early point an international conference should be called that involves neighbors, perhaps the permanent members of the Security Council and countries that have a major interest in the outcome, like India and Pakistan.”

So the spin coming from the State department today is that Karen Hughes made a wonderful contribution and many “achievements.”

Frankly, we view her collective time at State as a gigantic mistake that should have resulted in an even earlier termination.

Kissinger on Middle East Peace and Condi Rice

October 23, 2007

Henry Kissinger
The Washington Post
October 23, 2007

SECRETARY of State Condoleezza Rice has clearly spelled out how the Bush administration expects the Palestinian peace process now under way to unfold. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert are to hold preparatory meetings to define major elements of a settlement.

The draft outline is then to be submitted to an international conference to be assembled in Annapolis, Maryland, at the end of November with a membership yet to be chosen.The secretary of state has shown determination and ingenuity to bring matters to this point. Her next challenge will be to steer the process so as to avoid the risk of what happened at Camp David in 2000, when Israeli and PLO leaders sought an agreement only to see it blow up into a new crisis that continues to this day.Read the rest:
http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticleNew.asp?xfile=data/opinion/2007/October/opinion_
October78.xml§ion=opinion&col
=

Disaster of Hasty Withdrawal

September 16, 2007

By Henry Kissinger
The Washington Post
September 16, 2007

TWO realities define the range of a meaningful debate on Iraq policy: The war cannot be ended by military means alone. But neither is it possible to “end” the war by ceding the battlefield. American decisions in the next few months will not be able to end the crises in Iraq and the Middle East before the change of American administrations. Even while the political cycle tempts a debate geared to focus groups, a bipartisan foreign policy is imperative.

The experience of Vietnam is often cited as the example for the potential debacle that awaits us in Iraq. But we will never learn from history if we keep telling ourselves myths about it. The passengers on American helicopters fleeing Saigon were not American troops but Vietnamese civilians. American forces had left two years earlier. What collapsed Vietnam was the congressional decision to reduce aid to Vietnam by two-thirds and to cut if off altogether for Cambodia in the face of a massive North Vietnamese invasion that violated every provision of the Paris Peace Accords.

Should America repeat a self-inflicted wound? An abrupt withdrawal from Iraq will not end the war; it will only redirect it. Within Iraq, the sectarian conflict could assume genocidal proportions; terrorist base areas could re-emerge.

Read the rest:
http://www.democraticunderground.com/
discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=389×1817426

Kissinger: Don’t Rule Out Putin’s Initiative on Missile Defense

August 9, 2007

By Henry A. Kissinger
The Washington Post
August 9, 2007

The debate about missile defense, nearly 50 years old, has been reignited by the plan to deploy elements of the American missile defense in the Czech Republic and Poland. Familiar Cold War arguments have re-emerged as Russia challenges the necessity of the deployment and asserts that it is really designed to overcome Russian strategic forces rather than Iranian threats as the Bush administration claims.

But in addition to invective, the Kremlin also has a put forward a bold initiative for creating an unprecedented NATO-Russian collaboration in resisting an Iranian nuclear missile threat.
In the United States, the concept of missile defense has had a rough passage. A missile defense system proposed by President Richard Nixon in 1969 was strangled by Congress. In order to preserve its nucleus, the Nixon administration, in 1972, negotiated the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which froze existing missile defenses on both sides in parallel with an agreement that achieved the first restraints on the Soviet offensive missile buildup.

In the following decades, the international environment changed dramatically and forced a reconsideration of the earlier decisions: First, the collapse of the Soviet Union eliminated for the foreseeable future the conceptual basis for the doctrine ….

Read the rest at:
http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/08/09/opinion/
edkissinger.php?page=2

A political program to exit Iraq

July 10, 2007

By Henry Kissinger,
The Washington Post
July 10, 2007

The war in Iraq is approaching a kind of self-imposed climax. Public disenchantment is palpable. Congress will surely press for an accelerated, if not total, withdrawal of American forces. Demands for a political solution are likely to mount.

But precipitate withdrawal would produce a disaster. It would not end the war but shift it to other areas, like Lebanon or Jordan or Saudi Arabia. The war between the Iraqi factions would intensify. The demonstration of American impotence would embolden radical Islamism and further radicalize its disciples from Indonesia and India to the suburbs of European capitals.

We face a number of paradoxes. Military victory, in the sense of establishing a government capable of enforcing its writ throughout Iraq, is not possible in a time frame tolerated by the American political process. Yet no political solution is conceivable in isolation from the situation on the ground.

What America and the world need is not unilateral withdrawal but a vision by the administration of a sustainable political end to the conflict. Withdrawals must grow out of a political solution, not the other way around.

None of Iraq’s neighbors, not even Iran, is in a position to dominate the situation against the opposition of all the other interested parties. Is it possible to build a sustainable outcome on such considerations?

Continue reading at:
http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/07/02/
opinion/edkiss.php