Iraq is a job worth finishing, says Allen
Iraqis don’t fear a U.S. occupation, but do fear that the U.S. won’t occupy their country long enough to finish what it started, and leave the door open for Saddam Hussein to slip back through, said a former National Security Advisor.
Richard Allen, Ronald Reagan’s National Security Advisor, told a group of local Republicans that Iraq is improving by the day. He said schools and universities are both open, as are hospitals and most other municipal functions, and that electricity and water are both flowing – although you couldn’t tell it from the media reports coming from the country.
Allen just returned from Washington, D.C., where he serves on the U.S. Defense Policy Board. He said that while he fully expects President Bush to be re-elected, he said the mood in the Bush administration is bitter over the panicky tone of the early campaign season, and as Bush’s poll numbers slump along with the national economy. He said when the economy rebounds later this year and next, so will Bush’s approval ratings.
“We’re starting a political season that won’t be completed until the end of 2004,” Allen said. “It’s the most vicious start to a political season I’ve ever seen. This will be a rough political year.”
He said none of the Democratic candidates who’ve thrown their hats into the ring can beat Bush, including the latest Democratic golden child, retired General Wesley Clark.
Paraphrasing former vice presidential candidate Lloyd Bentson, Allen said, “I know Wesley Clark, and Wesley Clark, you’re no George Bush. I don’t see any candidates, including Wesley Clark, defeating the president next year.”
Iraq rolls on
Clark said Americans should pay little attention to international carping from France and Germany, offering harsh words for the leaders of both countries. He says has known France’s Jacques Chirac for 25 years, and crudely dismissed him as why “every French joke told could be true.”
He also said German leaders are opportunists and will take any side of any issue they think will help them at the time.
“Now they know they must repair their relationship with the United States,” said Allen.
Allen said the United States is losing an average of one soldier per day in Iraq. He also said people need to remember that Americans were still taking casualties in Germany more than a year and a half after World War II ended. He said a few months after the conquest is much too soon to start talking about pulling the plug on the project of building democracy in Iraq. The monetary cost is running to about $1 billion a week.
“We are engaged in a great and noble cause – the war in Iraq and the war against terrorism,” said Allen. “In the long run, free men fight to extend freedom. It’s costs treasure in blood and resources.”
Get out of Korea
Allen said that while the U.S. should stay in Iraq, he said U.S. troops should be withdrawn from the Korean peninsula immediately.
“I’ve made 140 trips to Korea in the last 40 years, and dozens of trips to Japan,” said Allen.
He said the Korean problem is not just the 1.2 million North Korean men who he said were “armed and dangerous,” but the policies of South Korea. He said South Korea’s pandering to their neighbor puts U.S. service personnel in a tenuous and dangerous situation.
“The United States took 50,000 casualties in Korea,” said Allen. “Our troop strength is now 37,000.”
Allen called North Korea, “an exceptionally dangerous place,” both politically and militarily.
“One of the most populace cities in South Korea is within cannon range,” said Allen. “They could create havoc in just an afternoon. Three salvos from each cannon could kill a half-million people.”
But as problematic as North Korea is, China is more so, said Allen. China’s steadily growing military capacity is evidence that it wants to displace the U.S. and its allies as the dominant force in the Pacific basin.
Allen has been involved both national politics and policy for four decades. They are not, he said, the same thing.
“To make policy, you have to do politics,” he said.
He says adamantly that President Bush has put together an exceptional national security team.
“It’s the finest national security team I’ve seen in my lifetime, and I’ve seen them all,” said Allen.