Wednesday, July 12, 2006


The Challenge of Our Time

Wretchard at The Belmont Club posts a transcript of a speech delivered by Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) July 11, 2006.

From the transcript:

I will give my bottom line up front. I believe Americans, while remaining tactically patient about Iraq, should be strategically optimistic. Most important, a major change - a tectonic shift - has taken place in the political orientation of the Sunni Arab community. A year ago, Sunni Arabs were outside of the political process and hostile to the United States. They boycotted the January 2005 election and were underrepresented in the transitional national assembly. Today, Sunni Arabs are full participants in the political process, with their representation in the national assembly now proportional to their share of the population. Also, they have largely come to see the United States as an honest broker in helping Iraq's communities come together around a process and a plan to stabilize the country.

Moreover, al Qaeda in Iraq has been significantly weakened during the past year. This resulted, not only from the recent killing of Zarqawi, but also from the capture or killing of a number of other senior leaders and the creation of an environment in which it is more difficult and dangerous for al Qaeda in Iraq.

Here’s how Khalilzad concluded his speech:

I want to end by saying a word on the importance of succeeding in Iraq. I am aware of the dangers of staying too long in Iraq, as well as the risks of leaving too soon, before success is ensured. A precipitous Coalition departure could unleash a sectarian civil war, which inevitably would draw neighboring states into a regional conflagration that would disrupt oil supplies and cause instability to spill over borders. It could also result in al Qaeda taking over part of Iraq, recreating the sanctuary it enjoyed but lost in Afghanistan. If al Qaeda gained this foothold - which is the strategy of the terrorists - it would be able to exploit Iraq's strategic location and enormous resources. This would make the past challenge of al Qaeda in Afghanistan look like child's play. Finally, a precipitous withdrawal could lead to an ethnic civil war, with the Kurds concluding that the Iraqi democratic experiment had failed and taking matters into their own hands and with regional powers becoming involved to secure their interests.

Whatever anyone may have thought about the decision to topple Saddam - whether one supported it or not - succeeding in Iraq is now essential to the future of the region and the world. Most of the world's security problems emanate from the region stretching from Morocco to Pakistan. Shaping its future is the defining challenge of our time. What happens in Iraq will be decisive in determining how this region evolves. Therefore, the struggle for the future of Iraq is vital to the future of the world.

Via Instapundit, also linked at by Jimbo at Blackfive.

As evidenced by the comments over at Blackfive, there are those that can read or hear this speech and see nothing more than an American spokesman, spouting propaganda in the face of much-hyped evidence to the contrary. (Cue the next car bomb attack against civilians.)

Those of us who, like Khalilzad, view the war in Iraq as of immense and of multi-generational strategic significance, will never be able to argue such contrarians out of their prejudices. Any violence serves as further evidence of failure, good news is only propaganda, yet extend to our enemies the opposite presumptions.

Linked at Mudville Gazette

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