Saturday, August 18, 2007

Iraq-Nam Fantasy: Could Condoleezza Rice give Henry Kissinger's "Decent Interval" a Reprise?

Is a 30-year lapse too long to recall how our intervention in Vietnam's civil war was finally ended, long after our leaders realized their goals could not be accomplished?

An inspection of Vietnam-era secret documents, now declassified, make for revealing reading. Especially so, when we re-read the transcripts of what then-National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger told Chinese premier Zhou Enlai in the course of a four-hour meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing On June 20, 1972.
Before I present the transcript, let me revise and update it to make it relevant for Iraq-Nam. I know it's a reach, but let's assume Condoleezza Rice were to deliver the same substance in a tête-à-tête with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad:
So we should find a way to end the war occupation, to stop it from being an international situation, and then permit a situation to develop in which the future of Indochina Iraq can be returned to the Indochinese Iraqi people. And I can assure you that this is the only object we have in Indochina Iraq, and I do not believe this can be so different from yours. We want nothing for ourselves there. And while we cannot bring a communist Shiite government to power, if as a result of historical evolution it should happen over a period of time, if we can live with a communist Shiite government in China Iran, we ought to be able to accept it in Indochina Iraq.
A month and a half later (August 3, 1972), Kissinger explained to president Richard Nixon (only, in the case of my fantasy, Rice would be telling Bush):
We will agree to a historical process or a political process in which the real forces in Vietnam Iraq will assert themselves, whatever these forces are. We've got to find some formula that holds the thing together a year or two, after which - after a year, Mr President, Vietnam Iraq will be a backwater. If we settle it, say, this October, by January '74 08, no one will give a damn.
The "strategy" - if you want to call it that - was summarized here by Kissinger had been conceived at least a year earlier. As noted in the Indochina section of the briefing book for Kissinger's July 1971 China trip (again with updated editing):
On behalf of President Nixon Bush, I want to assure prime minister Zhou president Ahmadinejad solemnly that the United States is prepared to make a settlement that will truly leave the political evolution of South Vietnam Iraq to the Vietnamese Iraqis alone. We are ready to withdraw all of our forces by a fixed date and let objective realities shape the political future.

... We want a decent interval. You have our assurance.
And a marginal notation in Kissinger's Rice's hand:
If the Vietnamese Iraqi people themselves decide to change the present government, we shall accept it. But we will not make that decision for them.
I am waking from my Saturday morning fantasy with a more sober reverie that whenever and however Bush's catastrophic blunder in Iraq is ended, his Neoconservative descendants will employ der Dolchstosslegende, and blame it all on the Clintons.

Both of them.