The Best Defense

Dumbass quote of the day: Alexander Haig's shaky grasp of diplomacy

"The fundamental task of diplomacy is to strip policy of its ambiguity," Alexander Haig Jr. writes (70) in his memoir Inner Circles, which I am now reading. I just about fell out of my chair when I saw that. I wonder what Haig's old boss, Henry Kissinger, the grandmaster of strategic ambiguity, would say about that. Amazon's "look inside this book" function says that in his book Diplomacy, Kissinger uses the word some 29 times.  

Haig gets extra dumbass points for the brassy certitude of his assertion -- and for, a score of pages later, this assessment of the Shah of Iran: "I thought in 1961, and I still think, that he was as close to being a natural and sincere democrat as anyone I ever met in his part of the world." (90)   

More interestingly, Haig says he thinks that Fidel Castro was behind John F. Kennedy's assassination, and says Lyndon B. Johnson thought so too. "I think that President Johnson's suspicions in regard to Castro's role were amply justified," he writes. (115-116)  Haig, who had acted as a kind of Army liaison to veterans of the Central Intelligence Agency-led Bay of Pigs attack on Cuba, says he was given a report that supported the accusation against Castro, but that he was ordered to forget it and that the report was destroyed.  

The book cost me one cent plus shipping and handling, so I am not complaining.

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The Best Defense

T. Dodge vs. Iraq's political unraveling

One of my favorite analysts of Iraqi affairs is Toby Dodge, who manages to bring perspective others lack. I think over the last year he has been a bit more optimistic than I about where Iraq is going, so I was interested to see that his new analysis is pretty pessimistic. He weighs the new political situation in the balance and finds it wanting:

Those in Baghdad and across the northwest of the country who put aside their scepticism about the post-2003 political settlement are going to get precious little for their vote in March. The grave danger is that a fairly remarkable level of political mobilisation in the national elections will mutate into a justifiable sense of alienation, anger and possibly a return to political violence sustained by a widespread support base who once again feel excluded from national politics.

It seems to me that the only way to avoid this destabilising outcome is to give major spending ministries to senior members of Iraqiyya in the cabinet negotiations that will unfold over the next 30 days.

Either way, the events of last week have not been good for the sustainability of post-regime-change Iraqi politics.

Here's more. And a prediction of a "mini-civil war." And here is a cartoon of patriotism being pushed off the bench by sectarianism and political ethnicity.

(HT to JW)