Kissinger's 3 Conditions for a War with Iraq
In July 2002 I was invited to spend a long weekend at something called the Bohemian Grove, an institution that has its origins in the 19th century. It started out as a club in San Francisco for writers, artists and intellectuals. It purchased a large tract of virgin land in northern California for summer retreats. There, among the giant redwoods, the members of the club could draw inspiration from nature and discuss the meaning of life over campfires in the evenings. It was and remains for men only....
One morning we went to one of the great institutions of the Bohemian Grove, the breakfast lecture given by Henry Kissinger. He was flanked by former President Bush and Jim Baker, Bush's secretary of state. Part of the tradition is that Henry should be interrupted at the start of his talk by a Mariachi band. This is apparently in homage to his weakness for Mexican music. As usual, after playing a tune, the band withdrew and Henry continued his talk. In 2002 Henry Kissinger's theme was Iraq. He agreed that after 9/11, pre-emptive action against threats to the nation's security could be justified. It was the beginning, he said, of a new era in international relations. It marked the end of a period inaugurated by the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, one of the treaty's principles was the sanctity of national sovereignty: on this basis the modern nation-state had come into being.
Now, in certain circumstances, continued Kissinger, action violating a national frontier could be justified. (The historical reference, so typical of Kissinger, was appropriated by Tony Blair in a 2004 speech, when to the surprise of many to whom Blair the historian was a revelation, the prime minister referred to the Treaty of Westphalia.) This was prologue to Kissinger's saying that a war in Iraq could be justified.
But he set out three conditions: military action must be brought to a rapid and successful conclusion - a prolonged war would be very dangerous for America; the US had to get the diplomacy right; and it had to arrive in Baghdad with a clear plan for the succession to Saddam. It would be disastrous to begin debating a successor regime after deposing him.
Kissinger's standing was such that he continued to be consulted by the White House. When I told some of my closest contacts in Washington what he had said at the Grove, they took careful note. In the event, none of Kissinger's conditions was met.
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