Critiquing Kissinger
Jude Wanniski
October 15, 1996


Memo To: Henry Kissinger
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Conducting Foreign Policy

I can’t tell you how disappointed I was to read your essay in the NYPost last week, in which you decide in retrospect that we should have used our opportunity in 1991 to have finished off Saddam Hussein once and for all. You blame George Bush for having allowed pleas of mercy for the defeated Iraqi army to have stayed his hand, as if this were all that was involved. Isn’t it true that in collecting a coalition of allies to kick Saddam out of Kuwait, and to pay the bills, we promised that the mission would end with his expulsion? Is it not also the case that we saw an advantage in not destroying the Iraqi army, in order that it might provide a check on the other troublesome political forces in the region, Iran among them? It was not long ago that I thought you gave some weight to the promises of the United States government in such international agreements. In fact, Brent Scowcroft recently discussed this matter on one of the talk shows, saying that in retrospect, it was a good thing that we lived up to our promises to our coalition allies -- as it changed the general view of the Muslim world that we were partners not to be trusted. With all this in mind, it surprises me that you now wring your hands over the dissolution of the coalition. The Post headline is precious: “END OF ANTI-SADDAM COALITION IS VERY EMBARRASSING -- AND ALSO VERY DANGEROUS.” You go on to argue that our allies in the region and in Europe are unhappy with us as a result of our failure to crush Saddam in President Clinton’s recent decision to bomb Iraq with a mere 44 cruise missiles. If we had used much greater firepower, you seem to be saying, the coalition would be alive and well.

This is all pretty interesting, Henry, as we must have been reading different newspapers. From the papers I have been reading, among them The New York Times, President Clinton took military action against Saddam on the excuse, dreamed up several days after the action taken, that Saddam’s intervention into northern Iraq was a feint in the direction of Kuwait to the south. If you are the same Henry Kissinger who was the geopolitical master of the Nixon years, you would never spin the gibberish in this silly tract. You know as well as I that our boy President is guilty of an act of international anarchy -- which is what a Russian diplomat publicly called it. Why anarchy? Henry, the President of the United States bombed a country with whom we are technically at peace. He did so on the spurious grounds -- the day after various foreign policy leaders in Congress and Bob Dole said military action was premature -- that Saddam had done nothing illegal. He did not consult a single member of Congress or a single member of the coalition. The end of the anti-Saddam coalition has been replaced by an anti-Clinton coalition, as the world girds itself for another four years of international anarchy.

Please tell me if there is something I missed. Do you have some citations I might have overlooked in one of the papers you see that are not available in North America? Or, is there a doctrine of von Clausewitz, or Metternich, or Machiavelli that takes care of these indelicacies? Are we allowed to bomb Haiti, or Cuba, or Libya, if Boy President gets it into his head to play war games when his golf game is off? How about Turkey, Syria, Iran, North Korea?

Do I make myself clear why your Post essay so disappointed me? If this is the best you can do at this stage of your life, I suggest it is time to write your memoirs again.