"Just another tidbit of Easter European reaction to President Obama's missile defense decision, to drop Bush-era plans for a missile shield with radar based in the Czech Republic and missiles based in Poland: a news headline (not an op-ed) on page 1 of major Czech newspaper Mlada Fronta Dnes today read 'There Will Not Be Radar. Russia Won.'"
Quotes on America and Iraq
"Iraq's new government was given international legitimacy last night when the UN security council voted unanimously to support the transfer of sovereignty from the US-led occupation.
George Bush and Tony Blair both welcomed the vote as the beginning of a new era of international consensus over Iraq."
"For a decision to withdraw substantial U.S. forces while the war continues is a potentially fateful event. It affects the calculations of insurgents and government forces alike, so that the definition of progress becomes nearly as much a psychological as a military judgment. Every soldier withdrawn represents a larger percentage of the remaining total. The capacity for offensive action of the remaining forces shrinks. Once the process is started, it runs the risk of operating by momentum rather than by strategic analysis, and that process is increasingly difficult to reverse."
"Can a genuine nation emerge in Iraq through constitutional means?
The answer to that question will determine whether Iraq becomes a signpost for a reformed Middle East or the pit of an ever-spreading conflict. For these reasons, a withdrawal schedule should be accompanied by some political initiative inviting an international framework for Iraq's future. Some of our allies may prefer to act as bystanders, but reality will not permit this for their own safety. Their cooperation is needed, not so much for the military as for the political task, which will test, above all, the West's statesmanship in shaping a global system relevant to its necessities."
"We must disengage from Iraq-and we must do it by removing most American and allied military units within 18 months. Though disengagement has risks and costs, they can be managed. The consequences would not be worse for the United States than the present situation, and capabilities for dealing with them are impressive, if properly employed."
"With a degree of patience, the United States can build on a pattern of positive change in Iraq that offers it a chance to draw down troops soon without giving up hope for sustained stability."
"There are a lot of expectations out there on behalf of the population. They think they should be the Japan of the Middle East, and they ought to be."
"In our judgment, now that the surge is over, any further drawdowns should be gradual until after Iraq gets through two big rounds of elections of its own-provincial elections to be held perhaps in early 2009, and follow-on national elections. These have the potential either to lock in place important gains or to reopen old wounds. But starting as early as 2010, if current trends continue, President Obama may be able to begin cutting back on U.S. forces in Iraq, possibly halving the total American commitment by late 2010 or 2011, without running excessive risks with the stability of Iraq and the wider Persian Gulf region.
Faster reductions would be ill-advised. But if undertaken nevertheless, it is important that they be balanced. Both combat and support functions from the United States will be necessary for years to come in Iraq; rapid drawdowns that leave an imbalanced residual force without major combat formations would be worse than rapid cuts that preserve significant combat capability."
"The Obama Administration must intensify its focus on Iraq and become proactively engaged in pressing all Iraqi factions to reach a national consensus based on political reconciliation. It must reject complacency and relentlessly press the Maliki government to seek broader Sunni participation in the coalition government in order to decisively isolate and defeat the diehard insurgents. This requires high-level attention from the Obama Administration, which can not depend merely on the U.S. Ambassador in Baghdad, Christopher Hill, who has no previous experience in the Middle East, let alone Iraq."