Thursday, December 07, 2006

Reagan's Richard Allen on Iraq (et al)

Richard Allen served as Ron Reagan's National Security Adviser. He has credentials. Here are a few excerpts from an article published in Human Events which bear on the current situation.

...The most chilling series of threats is also the most opaque and most difficult to understand: Islamic terrorism, which manifests itself in so many diverse ways. It is commonplace to refer to the Middle East as a “powder keg,” and America stands almost alone in its support of a strategic ally, Israel, thought by the rest of the world to be so intransigent and dangerous as it seeks to protect its people and its territory.

I believe that he [Reagan] would not have allowed the first Gulf War of 1991 to remain unfinished. President George H. W. Bush, James Baker, Brent Scowcroft and Colin Powell all argue forcefully that to have proceeded from the success of driving Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait to invading Iraq and dealing with Hussein would have “exceeded the mandate of the United Nations.” Reagan would not have wanted to leave the job unfinished, but even had Reagan settled for leaving Baghdad intact at that time, he would not have permitted his own military commanders to allow Saddam’s troops to move freely about the Northern half of the nation, dealing with Saddam’s declared enemies in the most brutal and murderous way.

Nor do I believe that Reagan would have permitted the sham of what became a vast international conspiracy to avoid sanctions imposed upon Saddam’s regime. Had Reagan allowed Saddam to survive, even as a figurehead, he would have put Saddam in a box and put Saddam’s neighbors and our own allies on notice that if they helped him, they would face consequences from the United States. There would not have been a scandalous Oil-For-Food Program run by the United Nations.

Nor would Reagan have treated the growing phenomenon of terrorism in the 1990s as a mere law enforcement problem in the manner of Bill Clinton. Ever the realist, Reagan would have read and taken seriously the growing threat to America and its allies and would have responded with strategies and tactics to deal effectively with any prospective menace.

Interesting. He, like many other Conservatives, saw no good reason whatsoever to worry about "UN Mandates" in the first Saddam war. He would have taken SH out, right then and there. Also, the Clintonoid idiocy of ignoring terrorism or assigning the Attorney General to 'go start a criminal procedure' would have been laughed at...

So GWB inherited a few things which are causing him some trouble.

Perhaps the most interesting question can be posed in these terms: Given the facts of 9/11, would Reagan have behaved precisely like Bush or would he have done things differently?

...yes, Reagan would have struck at the Taliban in Afghanistan with all the might and force mustered by Bush in that successful venture.

[But in 2003], I was not so certain that Reagan would have chosen to invade Iraq, even based on the intelligence at hand. It is my conclusion that Reagan would have begun an unmerciful and determined squeeze on Saddam, mustered allied support in that effort, and continued to squeeze until internal events in Iraq were arranged in such a fashion as to rid the country of his evil presence.

Here, however, is the critical difference, even if all other things were equal:

Perhaps most important, Reagan began his approach to any major policy initiatives or decision by testing it against his own central beliefs. While not willing to budge from a core belief, he had the capacity to assess and incorporate the views of others, and then reformulate his thinking and even alter its course.

...What people often overlook is that Reagan was the last President to employ a genuine bipartisan approach to major foreign policy and national security problems

Unlike Reagan, who could absorb daytime insults and taunts from such a severe partisan as Tip O’Neill and then sip an Irish whiskey with his critic after hours, George Bush seems genuinely ill at ease and unable to reach across the table. Given that Bush does not possess the public qualities of “Great Communicator” Ronald Reagan, his only choice will be to seek assistance where he can find it, and that, by and large, will be dependent upon his ability to care less about a legacy and more about policy success.

It's been fairly clear that GWB's "foxhole" mentality has been very harmful. While there's no question that there IS an enemy and that GWB is actively fighting the enemy, he has not been able to articulate a "sale" to the public--nor has he been very good at co-opting the Democrats, with a few exceptions.

Perhaps his inability to "sell" the conflict has to do with his inability to clearly state the goal. Yah, dumping SH was one--and no one argued with that. It was a great victory and necessary. But beyond SH, who are "the enemies" in Iraq? And what can we do to take them out?

Most important, what's the "end game"? And WHEN is the "end game" upon us?

1 comment:

BB-Idaho said...

One wonders about Allen's observation " believe that he [Reagan] would not have allowed the first Gulf War of 1991 to remain unfinished." Reagan was very quick to pull US forces from
Lebanon after the Marine Barracks
incident. He was also not averse to talking with the enemy.