Friday, August 12, 2005

Henry Kissinger on Exit Strategies

Lessons for an Exit Strategy

In a thought-provoking article in the Washington Post, Henry Kissinger compares the emerging discussion on a so called exit strategy from Iraq with what happened in Vietnam three decades ago.

His conclusion is clear:

"Because of the axiom that guerrillas win if they do not lose, stalemate is unacceptable. American strategy, including a withdrawal process, will stand or fall not on whether it maintains the existing security situation but on whether the capacity to improve it is enhanced. Victory over the insurgency is the only meaningful exit strategy."

And for this to be possible there is also the need for a political framework more stable than the one that is there now. He writes this as Iraq is only days from the deadline set for reaching agreement on its new constitution, and in a situation where there is no firm regional framework for the attempts to create stability in Iraq.

His indirect message is that it is certainly too early for a discussion on the withdrawal of substantial US military units from Iraq. Neither the security nor the political conditions are as yet in place.

It is difficult to disagree with that assessment.