Kissinger Says Pullout Timeline Poses Danger to Iraq
By Thomas Keene and Mark Drajem
July 22 (Bloomberg) -- Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said the biggest danger to Iraq would be to set a schedule for the withdrawal of American troops, as Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has proposed.
Kissinger, who backs Obama's Republican rival, Senator John McCain, said today in an interview that he is ``fairly optimistic'' about the situation in Iraq. ``Ironically, the one way to defeat the optimistic assessment one would make about Iraq is to establish timelines,'' he said.
Obama, a senator from Illinois, is on a tour of the Middle East, and said today in Jordan that he wants a ``steady, deliberate'' pullout of troops from Iraq over 16 months. During Obama's visit to Iraq yesterday, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki expressed the hope that security and political conditions would permit an American pullout in 2010, without explicitly endorsing Obama's plan.
Obama said his withdrawal plan would be flexible enough to respond to surges in violence that posed a threat of genocide.
Kissinger said providing a firm timetable would allow different factions to wait out the American presence, risking a return of violence after the U.S. left. He also took an indirect swipe at Obama for raising the issue with al-Maliki and other Iraqi leaders. The debate over keeping troops in Iraq should be confined to the U.S. presidential campaign, he said.
``I am extremely uneasy about public negotiating that is part of a domestic debate,'' Kissinger said. ``I am very uneasy that it has taken a public turn.''