Omina21 tipped me off to this interview with Henry Kissinger at Der Speigel. Lots of pithy comments on who Kissinger backs for prez (John McCain), Europe's weak commitment to NATO and its own security, and George Bush, among other things. Selected excerpts follow, but do read the whole thing.
On the Democrats call for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq
Kissinger: The issue is: Are American forces withdrawn as part of a political settlement? Or are they withdrawn because America is exhausted by the war? In the latter case, the consequences of an American withdrawal would be catastrophic.
SPIEGEL: Do you think there would be another eruption of violence?
Kissinger: There would be a high possibility of killing fields. Radical Islam won't stop because we withdraw. A rapid withdrawal would be a demonstration in the region of the impotence of Western power. Hamas, Hezbollah, and al-Qaida would achieve a more dominant role, and the ability of Western nations to shape events would be sharply reduced. The virus would have huge consequences for all countries with large Muslim populations: India, Indonesia, and large parts of Europe.
Terminology - "War on Terror"
Kissinger: I don't like the term "war on terror" because terror is a method, not a political movement. We are in a war against radical Islam that is trying to overthrow the moderate elements in the Islamic world and which is fundamentally challenging the secular structures of Western societies. All this is happening at a difficult period in European history.
European Distrust of America
SPIEGEL: Isn't German and European opposition to a greater military involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq also a result of deep distrust of American power?
Kissinger: By this time next year, we will see the beginning of a new administration. We will then discover to what extent the Bush administration was the cause or the alibi for European-American disagreements. Right now, many Europeans hide behind the unpopularity of President Bush. And this administration made several mistakes in the beginning.
SPIEGEL: What do you see as the biggest mistakes?
Kissinger: To go into Iraq with insufficient troops, to disband the Iraqi army, the handling of the relations with allies at the beginning even though not every ally distinguished himself by loyalty. But I do believe that George W. Bush has correctly understood the global challenge we are facing, the threat of radical Islam, and that he has fought that battle with great fortitude. He will be appreciated for that later.
SPIEGEL: In 50 years, historians will treat his legacy more kindly?
Kissinger: That will happen much earlier.