Over dinner Sunday night at Bill and Pat Buckleys’, I had a chance to visit with the formidable Henry Kissinger. Of course, we talked about the world situation, especially Iraq. Henry the K made a very clear-eyed point that I want to pass along.
He said this was exactly the wrong time to withdraw troops from Iraq. With a new government, and a greatly enlarged Iraqi fighting force, now is the time to clean up Baghdad and other cities that are still heavily controlled by Baathist insurgents and various terrorist forces.
In order to do this properly, in what may be our last chance, the Iraqi security forces need the help of American forces. So therefore, it would be completely wrong to withdraw the very American forces that will crucially assist the Iraqis in this endeavor.
General Casey had been on the Sunday talk shows earlier in the day, flirting with the idea of troop withdrawals, as he so often does. Kissinger expressed disappointment in this. He felt that Casey was a very “political” general. Instead of talking about troop withdrawals, Casey and other senior generals should be talking about cleaning up Baghdad.
This, in his view, was the absolutely essential point in the Iraq war right now. All our efforts and thinking should be aimed directly at mopping up this operation.