The Green Institute hosted a conference on US policy in the Middle East entitled Surviving Victory: A New Definition of National Security last Wednesday. The conference foreign policy analysts from both liberal and conservative perspectives, all of whom have become alarmed by Bush administration policies in the Middle East.
“This is really an effort to assess where we are right now in the wake of the catastrophe with Iraq and Afghanistan,” panelist Roger Morris, senior fellow with the Green Institute, said. “We want, above all, to point the way out. We want to ask: what are the alternatives here?”
“It’s an example of people coming together who agree on one thing and are willing to engage in healthy discussion even though they may not agree on other issues,” panelist Charles Pena said. Peña is a senior fellow of the Independent Institute and an adviser to the Status Military Reform Project at the Center for Defense Information. “We are fueling hatred in the Muslim world against us,” he said.
The panelists agreed that the situation in Iraq was now so chaotic and the prospects there so grim that no “fix” was possible, and that the United States had to choose the least bad of a series of bad options. Staying the course meant the war would continue in the Middle East for decades and it would drain the U.S. budget while paving the way for more serious terrorist acts.
“Maybe the current situation is elevated to the point that it’s headed straight for disaster,” said panelist Winslow Wheeler, director of the CDI’s Straus Military Reform Project. America must leave, but it must be sensitive to its allies’ concerns in a practical way, he concluded. “We can’t leave in a manner like we came in.”
The broad range of political viewpoints at the meeting demonstrated a growing fear of the counsequences of Bush administration policies across the political spectrum in Washington. The lessons of Iraq are going to haunt foreign policy analysts for years.