Friday, February 23, 2007

Albright says next president must `restore goodness of American power'

Albright with Carter by her side,
Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said Thursday that through the war in Iraq the United States has lost its moral authority, and it will be up to the next president to restore the "goodness of American power."

"I think that Iraq is going to go down in history as the greatest disaster in American foreign policy," Albright said, with former President Jimmy Carter at her side in one of a series of "Conversations at the Carter Center."

"We have lost the element of goodness in American power, and we have lost our moral authority," she said. "The job of the next president will be to restore the goodness of American power."
She's really old enough and smart enough to know better. From Pipes review of Gary Sick's All Fall Down: America's Tragic Encounter with Iran (Now back in print)
When news of the hostage-taking at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran reached President Jimmy Carter in November 1979, he responded with emotions similar to those of most of the American public. According to Harold H. Saunders, Carter's assistant secretary of state in charge of Middle Eastern affairs, "President Carter in his initial reactions may simply have been acting as Jimmy Carter—an outraged and concerned American who happened to be President."[1] The White House adviser on Iranian affairs, Captain Gary Sick, notes that a similar reaction was widespread in the government. "When President Carter said, as he did on many different occasions both publicly and privately, that the fate of the hostages was on his mind at every waking moment, he was . . . expressing what a daily reality for almost all of us who were caught up in the crisis."[2] Sick then relates his own reaction:

I remember discussing the crisis with my family shortly after the hostages were seized and telling them until the hostages were freed, their welfare would take priority over everything else in my life. It was almost like taking religious vows, and that sense of personal dedication remained vivid and strong until the Algerian plane carried the hostages safely out of Iranian airspace many months later.

When these men say that for 14 and a half months, from 4 November 1979, until the very last moments of the Carter presidency on 20 January 1981, the issue of the American captives in Iran dominated the Carter administration's concerns, they are admitting to one of the most bizarre developments in the history of American government. That the president of the United States, the chief executive of the federal government, the commander in chief of the military forces, the head of the Democratic Party, and the leader of the free world devoted his "every waking moment" to the fate of 52 persons almost defies belief. It is only somewhat less preposterous that for 444 days the president's specialist on Iran concentrated with near-religious intensity on the welfare of the hostages, to the detriment of all other issues connected with Iran—the rebellions that threatened the central government, the tripling of the price of oil, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and the Iraqi attack.

The United States paid in many ways for the emotionalism of its leaders, as these two books indicate. American government officials devoted so much time to this issue that their attention to matters of greater significance was much reduced. "As the agenda for dealing with the hostage crisis jelled," Saunders notes, "other important issues were gradually crowded off the agendas of each of the principals involved." For almost a year, a large portion of the cabinet met almost every day to keep up with developments in Iran, the president frequently joining them. Warren Christopher, Carter's deputy secretary of state and the official in charge of the final negotiations, estimates that as many as ten of the most important officials in the executive branch were diverted each day from their other duties for one to two hours or more. . . . Take two hours out of the morning of the most important Cabinet secretaries to met on an almost daily basis on any specific problem, and you will see a government so highly focused on that issue that other issues may be neglected.
Carter made huge mistakes in those years and we're still paying the consequences today.

Count me with Ralph Peters on the middle east today.
...we've entered a new age when all the great faiths are struggling over their identities. As the religions most-immediately besieged, Shi'ism and Sunni Islam are the noisiest and, for now, the most-violent. But all faiths are in crisis--even as every major faith undergoes a powerful renewal.

In my years as an intelligence analyst, I consistently made my best calls when I trusted my instincts, and I was less likely to get it right when I heeded the arguments around me. Today, those surrounding arguments damn Iran.

My instincts tell me our long-term problem is with Arab Sunnis, whose global aspirations have veered into madness. We have a problem with the junta currently ruling Iran, but not with Persian civilization. Meanwhile, the Bedouin fanaticism gripping so much of the Middle East has no civilization.
That President Bush can sit down and hold a Press Conference with the Leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq and hear these words from him, tells me the United States is on the right path,
We have gone a long way to establish a democratic and pluralistic society in Iraq. We have given a great deal of sacrifice to achieving the objective. We cherish all the sacrifices that took place for the liberation and the freedom of Iraq, sacrifices by the Iraqi people, as well as friendly nations, and on top of that list, sacrifices by the Americans. We have now an elected government in Iraq, a government that is so determined to combat both violence and terror, a government that it is -- strongly believes in the unity of that government and of that country and the society, a government that deals and will deal with all the sources of terrorism regardless where they come from.

We will work very hard and seek all forms of cooperation at the international level and the regional level in order to defeat terrorism that it is trying to use Iraq as a base in order to sabotage the future of that nation.

Thank you very much, Mr. President, for allowing me this opportunity to meet with you. I would like to take this opportunity also to thank the American people and their sympathy toward Iraq, those who helped Iraq to get rid of a brutal dictatorship and to enjoy freedom and liberties.

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