These Kissinger op-eds still resonate today

Henry A. Kissinger photographed in his office in Washington, D.C. on September 03, 2014. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)
Henry A. Kissinger photographed in his office in Washington, D.C. on September 03, 2014. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

Henry Kissinger, the former secretary of state and national security adviser who died Wednesday, at age 100, wrote more than 200 op-eds for The Post over time. Here is a selection of his writing, on topics ranging from foreign policy issues to his love of soccer.

How the Ukraine crisis ends (2014)

Public discussion on Ukraine is all about confrontation. But do we know where we are going? In my life, I have seen four wars begun with great enthusiasm and public support, all of which we did not know how to end and from three of which we withdrew unilaterally. The test of policy is how it ends, not how it begins.

Far too often the Ukrainian issue is posed as a showdown: whether Ukraine joins the East or the West. But if Ukraine is to survive and thrive, it must not be either side’s outpost against the other — it should function as a bridge between them.

Russia must accept that to try to force Ukraine into a satellite status, and thereby move Russia’s borders again, would doom Moscow to repeat its history of self-fulfilling cycles of reciprocal pressures with Europe and the United States.

The West must understand that, to Russia, Ukraine can never be just a foreign country. Russian history began in what was called Kievan-Rus. The Russian religion spread from there. Ukraine has been part of Russia for centuries, and their histories were intertwined before then. Some of the most important battles for Russian freedom, starting with the Battle of Poltava in 1709, were fought on Ukrainian soil. The Black Sea Fleet — Russia's means of projecting power in the Mediterranean — is based by long-term lease in Sevastopol, in Crimea. Even such famed dissidents as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Joseph Brodsky insisted that Ukraine was an integral part of Russian history and, indeed, of Russia.

The European Union must recognize that its bureaucratic dilatoriness and subordination of the strategic element to domestic politics in negotiating Ukraine’s relationship to Europe contributed to turning a negotiation into a crisis. Foreign policy is the art of establishing priorities.

The Ukrainians are the decisive element. They live in a country with a complex history and a polyglot composition. The Western part was incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1939 , when Stalin and Hitler divided up the spoils. Crimea, 60 percent of whose population is Russian , became part of Ukraine only in 1954, when Nikita Khrushchev, a Ukrainian by birth, awarded it as part of the 300th-year celebration of a Russian agreement with the Cossacks. The west is largely Catholic; the east largely Russian Orthodox. The west speaks Ukrainian; the east speaks mostly Russian. Any attempt by one wing of Ukraine to dominate the other — as has been the pattern — would lead eventually to civil war or breakup. To treat Ukraine as part of an East-West confrontation would scuttle for decades any prospect to bring Russia and the West — especially Russia and Europe — into a cooperative international system.

Ukraine has been independent for only 23 years; it had previously been under some kind of foreign rule since the 14th century. Not surprisingly, its leaders have not learned the art of compromise, even less of historical perspective. The politics of post-independence Ukraine clearly demonstrates that the root of the problem lies in efforts by Ukrainian politicians to impose their will on recalcitrant parts of the country, first by one faction, then by the other. That is the essence of the conflict between Viktor Yanu­kovych and his principal political rival, Yulia Tymo­shenko. They represent the two wings of Ukraine and have not been willing to share power. A wise U.S. policy toward Ukraine would seek a way for the two parts of the country to cooperate with each other. We should seek reconciliation, not the domination of a faction.

Russia and the West, and least of all the various factions in Ukraine, have not acted on this principle. Each has made the situation worse. Russia would not be able to impose a military solution without isolating itself at a time when many of its borders are already precarious. For the West, the demonization of Vladimir Putin is not a policy; it is an alibi for the absence of one.

Putin should come to realize that, whatever his grievances, a policy of military impositions would produce another Cold War. For its part, the United States needs to avoid treating Russia as an aberrant to be patiently taught rules of conduct established by Washington. Putin is a serious strategist — on the premises of Russian history. Understanding U.S. values and psychology are not his strong suits. Nor has understanding Russian history and psychology been a strong point of U.S. policymakers.

Leaders of all sides should return to examining outcomes, not compete in posturing. Here is my notion of an outcome compatible with the values and security interests of all sides:

1. Ukraine should have the right to choose freely its economic and political associations, including with Europe.

2. Ukraine should not join NATO, a position I took seven years ago, when it last came up.

3. Ukraine should be free to create any government compatible with the expressed will of its people. Wise Ukrainian leaders would then opt for a policy of reconciliation between the various parts of their country. Internationally, they should pursue a posture comparable to that of Finland. That nation leaves no doubt about its fierce independence and cooperates with the West in most fields but carefully avoids institutional hostility toward Russia.

4. It is incompatible with the rules of the existing world order for Russia to annex Crimea. But it should be possible to put Crimea’s relationship to Ukraine on a less fraught basis. To that end, Russia would recognize Ukraine’s sovereignty over Crimea. Ukraine should reinforce Crimea’s autonomy in elections held in the presence of international observers. The process would include removing any ambiguities about the status of the Black Sea Fleet at Sevastopol.

These are principles, not prescriptions. People familiar with the region will know that not all of them will be palatable to all parties. The test is not absolute satisfaction but balanced dissatisfaction. If some solution based on these or comparable elements is not achieved, the drift toward confrontation will accelerate. The time for that will come soon enough.

Vietnam: Tragedy in Four Acts (1985)

Vietnam ended America’s innocence in international affairs. It was the first war in which involvement was not triggered by overt aggression of organized units across a clearly demarcated line. It was the first in which some sort of military outcome did not precede negotiations. It was the first witnessed in the living rooms of America. It was the first in which prominent Americans opposed their country’s policy during highly publicized visits to the enemy’s capital.

In the process, Vietnam turned into a tragedy in four acts.

Act 1: The Flawed Assumption. In his inaugural address President Kennedy announced that the United States would “support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and success of liberty”. No one challenged that sweeping commitment or the proposition that Indochina was a key outpost in the defense of liberty. Within six weeks Marines were sent to Thailand; a year later 16,000 U.S. military personnel were assigned as “advisers” to help South Vietnam. Hanoi was regarded as the cutting edge of Sino- Soviet global strategy. In retrospect, we know that Hanoi was working for its own account.

The ultimate political goal was noble: to enable a distant people to resist tyranny. On the other hand, the so-called free countries of Indochina, while far less oppressive than North Vietnam, were hardly democracies. Guerrilla wars are rarely pristine. The pace of guerrilla war and the pace of reform are different: bringing about democracy in a developing country requires a decade or more; destruction and chaos can be produced in weeks.

Refusal to face this reality caused the Kennedy administration to encourage -- to put it mildly -- the overthrow of South Vietnam’s authoritarian ruler Ngo Dinh Diem in 1963. This was the watershed leading to two fateful decisions: it committed the United States to sustain the junta that replaced Diem and it tempted Hanoi to commit its regular forces.

Act 2: The Ambivalent Strategy. America historically has sought to use its vast resources for a strategy of attrition; attrition, however, cannot work against guerrillas who defend no territory and are able to choose their own time for combat. In Indochina, moreover, they were operating from sanctuaries in all neighboring countries and were fought by the fashionable theory of gradual escalation designed to create pauses that would encourage compromise. In fact, gradual escalation convinced Hanoi that America lacked resolve.

As the war dragged on, demands for a political solution mounted. But they were bedeviled by the traditional American tendency to treat power and diplomacy as separate. It became a commonplace that North Vietnam would not negotiate -- indeed could not be asked to negotiate -- while its territory was being bombed, never mind the North Vietnamese troops illegally invading Laos, Cambodia and South Vietnam. President Johnson finally overcame his instinctive doubt and agreed to a bombing halt shortly before the 1968 election. In Korea the decision to end offensive operations after negotiations had started was responsible for 60 percent of U.S. casualties; in Vietnam the bombing halt -- which I supported at the time -- surely deepened the stalemate.

In the process bipartisan support for foreign policy evaporated. Between 1963 and the end of 1966, media, public and congressional support had been nearly universal. But by late 1966 the war became a rallying point for heretofore fringe groups seeking a radical transformation of society.

Too often, the media became unwitting collaborators. It was easy to record the horrors of modern warfare, much more difficult to distinguish between what was inherent in modern weaponry and what represented deliberate cruelty. Similarly, it was fairly simple to construct the vaunted credibility gap by reiterating the difference between governmental statements and what in fact happened. A fairer analysis would have sought to determine what was due to genuine confusion and what was actual misrepresentation.

Act 3. The Painful Exodus. No one familiar with Richard Nixon’s career could have believed that his campaign promise to end the war could mean simple abdication. On the contrary, it was surprising that a president elected by a conservative constituency went to such lengths to placate liberal critics. But in the prevailing atmosphere of radicalization, every concession elicited further demands, culminating in pressures to withdraw unilaterally and overthrow the government of America’s ally.

Nixon was convinced that it was immoral and dangerous for Americato extricate itself by simply abandoning millions who had fought with it in reliance on its word. He undertook to salvage America’s honor as he saw it by a tour de force: phased troop withdrawals to placate the protesters, private negotiations, sporadic pressures on North Vietnam and major assistance to South Vietnam. Domestic pressures forced Nixon into compromises that often canceled themselves out. Every withdrawal encouraged Hanoi and every lunge inflamed the peace movement.

In the end, a president cannot conduct a war amid such passions by himself. Faced with congressional resolutions that progressively edged toward unilateral withdrawal, violent demonstrations and the hostility of the media, Nixon should have gone to Congress early in his term, outlined his strategy and demanded an endorsement. Failing that, he should have liquidated the war. He rejected such advice because he felt history would never forgive the appalling consequences of what he considered an abdication of executive responsibility. It was an honorable, highly moral decision.

Despite all obstacles Nixon came heartbreakingly close to success. By the end of 1972, his administration had forced Hanoi to accept two irreducible conditions: America would not end the war by overthrowing an allied government, nor would it forgo the right to assist peoples that had fought valiantly at its side. What destroyed these prospects was the collapse of executive authority because of Watergate after signing of the 1973 Paris accords.

Act 4: The Post-1973 Period. The apostles of America’s inherent iniquity have propagated the canard that all the Nixon administration sought was a fig leaf for South Vietnam’s inevitable collapse. This is untrue and unworthy. To be sure, there were terms that one would have preferred to improve, but the Nixon administration believed it had achieved an acceptable settlement -- all the more so as the alternative was a congressional cutoff of funds leading to a total collapse. We were not naive about Hanoi’s goals but we saw several elements of enforcement: continuing aid to enable the South Vietnamese army to handle low-level violations; the threat of American retaliation against massive, cross-border violations; the restraining influence of Moscow and Peking, which had growing stakes in their relations with the United States; and an offer of American aid to Hanoi if it chose to rebuild the north instead of conquering the south.

But the peace accords did not end the fevered Vietnam debate, now reinforced by Watergate. The rewards and penalties so painfully assembled were systematically dismantled. Despite immediate and flagrant North Vietnamese violations, Congress voted in June 1973 to prohibit any American military action “in, over or near” Indochina. It cut appropriations to Vietnam by 30 percent in 1973 and by another 50 percent in 1974. It put a paltry ceiling on aid to Cambodia, prohibiting any American advisers and even the transfer of American equipment from nearby Asian allies. It launched an assault on d,etente at a time of maximum weakness of the executive branch.

President Nguyen Van Thieu panicked when it became clear he would not receive the supplementary appropriation he had been promised for 1975. And Hanoi decided to throw the dice after having occupied a provincial capital, demonstrating that not even the grossest violation would be met by American retaliation.

We shall never know whether South Vietnam could have held out with a more generous and resolute American policy. But that is not the point. The United States owed the peoples of Indochina a decent opportunity for survival; its domestic divisions made it impossible for the United States to pay this debt.

What is one to learn from this sequence of events?

  • Guerrilla wars are best avoided by pre- emption, by generous programs of assistance and reform in countries the United States considers vital. But once a war is in progress, victory cannot be achieved by reform alone.
  • Before America commits combat troops it should have a clear understanding of the nature of the threat and of realistic objectives.
  • When America commits itself to military action, there is no alternative to achieving the stated objective.
  • A democracy cannot conduct a serious foreign policy if the contending factions do not exercise some restraint in their debate.

If Vietnam is to leave any useful legacy, America owes it to itself to make a fair assessment of the lessons of that tragedy. That has not yet occurred.

Radical critics seek to impose a version of history according to which bloodthirsty leaders sustained a war with no purpose except to satisfy twisted psychologies. The right distorts history by simply ignoring Vietnam. Its isolationist wing had always been more comfortable with strident anti-communist rhetoric than with commitments to fight communism on distant battle fronts.

The lapse of a decade should enable America to face its past. As it turned out the dominoes fell visibly only in Indochina. But the experience of Vietnam is deeply imprinted in the intangibles by which other nations judge America’s staying power and even more in the willingness of America to defend its vital interests or even to define them. On the other hand, the Soviet Union after a spurt of expansionism is mired in contradictions. Vietnam, by its singleminded brutality, has turned itself into a pariah.

America failed in Vietnam, but it gave the other nations of Southeast Asia time to deal with their own insurrections. And America’s very anguish testified to its moral scruples. Once again, free peoples everywhere look to America for safety and progress. Their greatest fear is not America’s involvement in the world but its withdrawal from it. This is why 10 years after the sadness of Saign’s fall American unity is both its duty and the hope for the world.

Kissinger On the Controversy Over the Shah (1979)

We asked Henry Kissinger to comment on allegations that he pressured the administration to permit the shah of Iran to enter the country and that he was exploiting the Iranian crisis politically. Mr. Kissinger’s response, which we print here, was written before the president’s press conference last evening.

Only the president of the United States can solve the present crisis, and I believe all Americans, of whatever party or persuasion, owe him our support and our prayers.

I have made no criticism of the president's handling of the crisis. My public comments in New York on Nov. 7, in Dallas on Nov. 10 and in Los Angeles on Nov. 11 all called for national unity behind the president. A senior White House official told me at breakfast on Nov. 21 that, on the basis of fragmentary news ticker reports, remarks I had made in Austin on the foreign policy challenges of the 1980's were subject to misinterpretation. I offered to put out an immediate clarifying statement expressing support for the president in this crisis and calling for unity. (Indeed, I suggested that Jody Powell draft it.) The offer was ignored.

Since then I have read and heard myself described by high White House officials as acting deviously and dishonorably; as advising the shah -- strangely enough -- to seek the advice of our government about whether to stay or leave this country; and as having exerted pressure to get him here in the first place.

This campaign struck me as all the more remarkable against the background of a call by me on the first day of the crisis to Deputy Undersecretary of State Ben Read in which I told him that I would not criticize the administration for its handling of the crisis either during its course or afterward; it could be sure that I would do my utmost to keep the crisis and its aftermath insulated from partisan controversy. The administration was well aware that from the first I have been calling congressional and other leaders urging restraint in comment. In short, it is not I who has been courting controversy in the middle of a national crisis.

As for my own involvement in recent events, ironically it began at the administration's initiative. In the first week of January 1979, a senior official of the State Department asked my help in finding a residence for the shah in the United States. Our government had concluded, I was informed, that the shah must leave Iran if the Bakhtiar government were to survive the efforts of Ayatollah Khomeini to obtain total power. If I could find a suitable domicile in America, the shah might overcome his hesitation and hasten his departure. I doubted the analysis but acceded to the request. I called David Rockefeller for help. Mr. Rockefeller expressed his personal sympathy for the shah but also his reluctance to become involved in an enterprise that might jeopardize the Chase Manhattan Bank's financial relationships with Iranian governmental or quasi-governmental organs. I then appealed to his brother Nelson; with his help, a suitable residence was located. A week later the shah left Iran. Two weeks afterward Nelson Rockefeller died.

Thus David Rockefeller's later role was hardly spurred by economic considerations as has been alleged; it ran, in fact, contrary to his commercial interests. He was motivated by his desire to carry out the legacy of his late brother and his devotion to the principal that our nation owed loyalty to an ally who had been loyal to us. This was my view as well, and remains so.

Less than two months later -- in mid-March -- another senior official of the Department of State urged me to dissuade the shah, who had spent the intervening period in Morocco, from asking for a U.S. visa until matters settled down in Tehran. I refused with some indignation; David Rockefeller was then approached. He too refused. When Rockefeller and I inquired whether out government would help the shah find asylum in another country, we were told that no official assistance of any kind was contemplated.

This I considered deeply wrong and still do.

Every American president for nearly four decades had eagerly accepted the shah’s assistance and proclaimed him as an important friend of the United States. President Truman in 1947 awarded the shah the legion of Merit for his support of the Allied cause during World War II and in 1949 praised him for his “courage and farsightedness” and his “earnestness and sincerity in the welfare of his people”. President Eisenhower in 1954 paid tribute to the shah for his “enlightened leadership”. President Kennedy in 1962 hailed the shah for “identifying himself with the best aspirations of his people”. President Johson in 1964 lauded the shah as a “reformist 20th-century monarch” and in 1965 praised his “wisdom and compassion . . . perception and statesmanship”. President Nixon in 1969 declared that the shah had brought about “a revolution in terms of social and economic and political progress”. President Ford in 1975 called the shah “one of the world’s great statesmen”. President Carter in 1977 praised Iran as “a very stabilizing force in the world at large” and in 1978 lauded the shah for his “progressive attitude” which was “the source of much of the opposition to him in Iran”. Such quotations could be multiplied endlessly.

And they were correct. In my own experience the shah never failed to stand by us. In the 1973 Mideast war, Iran was the sole American ally adjoining the Soviet Union which did not permit the overflight of Soviet transport planes into the Middle East. In 1973-74, Iran was the only Middle East oil-producing country that did not join the oil embargo against us; it continued to sell oil to the U.S., to Israel and to our other allies. Iran kept its oil production at maximum capacity (thus helping stabilize the price) and never used oil as a political weapon. The shah was a source of assistance and encouragement to the forces of moderation in the Middle East, Africa and Asia; he used his own military power to ensure the security of the Persian Gulf and to discourage adventures by radicals. He firmly supported the peace process that culminated in the Egyptian-Israeli treaty; he was a defender of President Sadat against radical forces in the area. After his initial advocacy of higher prices in 1973, he used his influence to keep the prices steady so that the real price of oil actually declined over the period from 1973 to 1978 (due to inflation).

The crisis we face in 1979 -- the 65 percent hike in oil prices, the cutback of Middle East oil production, the radical challenges to the peace process and the rise of anti-American fanaticism in the whole area -- is the price we are paying for the absence of a friendly regime in Iran. The conclusion is inescapable that many of the shah's opponents in Iran hate him not only for what he did wrong, but also for what he did right -- his friendship for the United States, his support for Mideast peace, his rapid modernization, his land reform, his support for public education and women's rights; in short, his effort to bring Iran into the 20th century as an ally of the free world.

I do not doubt that wrongs were committed by the shah’s government in his long rule; the question is how appropriate it is to raise them, after four decades of close association, in the period of the shah’s travail. I have been deeply worried about the foreign policy consequences of spurning him. What will other friends of the United States in the area, in comparably perilous situations and perhaps even more complex domestic circumstances -- leaders essential for a moderate evolution of the whole region -- conclude if we turn against a man whom seven American presidents had lauded as a loyal ally and a progressive leader?

My conviction that on the human level we owed the shah a place of refuge had nothing to do with a scheme of restoring him to power. I have stated publicly that we should seek the best relations possible with the new authorities in Tehran. I simply assert that it is incompatible with our national honor to turn our back on a leader who cooperated with us for a generation. Never before have we given foreign governments a veto over who can enter our country as a private citizen.

Between early April and early July, I put these considerations before three senior officials in phone conversations. And I called twice on Secretary of State Vance in the same period. The upshot was a refusal to issue a visa explained by the tenseness of the situation in Iran. In April I delivered a public speech stating that I thought it morally wrong to treat the shah as a "flying Dutchman looking for a port of call".

In other words, I made five private approaches on this subject to the government -- none after July. Such was the "obnoxious" pressure, as George Ball has called it, to which our government was subjected.

When it became apparent that our government would not help the shah and that he was unable to stay any longer in Morocco, David Rockefeller and I did what we could to find him a place of refuge. David Rockefeller was able to arrange a temporary stay in the Bahamas. In April and May, I appealed to the government of Mexico. To its enormous credit, it had the courage to extend a visa even though -- as one official pointed out to me -- Mexico was being asked to run risks on behalf of a friend of the United States that we were not willing to assume ourselves.

Once the shah was in Mexico, David Rockefeller, John McCoy and I tried to be helpful with private matters on a personal basis. The education of the shah's children in America was the principal issue. We did our best to find appropriate schooling; this raised the issue of visas. Contacts with our government were handled by Mr. Rockefeller's assistant, Joseph Reed, and John McCloy. Mr. McCloy repeatedly urged the Department of State to designate an official with whom the shah's entourage could communicate on such matters without using our group as intermediaries. Such a contact point was never established.

This was the state of affairs when the shah fell ill early in October. As it happened, I was out of the country from Oct. 9 to Oct. 23 and had no communication with any level of the government about the matter. While in Europe, I kept in touch with the Rockefeller office but did not intercede personally with any official or agency of the government -- though I would have had it been necessary. My understanding is that Joseph Reed presented the medical records to Undersecretary Newsom and on the basis of those records the administration admitted the shah for treatment. I am not aware that there was any hesitation. To the administration's credit, no pressure was needed or exercised; I gather that the medical facts spoke for themselves. All of us conceived that the reaction in Tehran would have to be evaluated by the administration which alone had the relevant facts.

As for advice to the shah about whether or not to leave -- the subject of other strange stories -- the situation was as follows. With conflicting threats emanating from Tehran as to the impact on the safety of the hostages of a movement by the shah, Rockefeller, McCloy and I concluded that it was inappropriate for us to advise the shah. Rockefeller called the president on Nov. 15 to ask once again for the designation of an individual who could accurately convey the government’s recommendations to the shah’s entourage. McCloy stressed the need for this to the deputy secretary of state on Nov. 20; I repeated it to a senior White House official on Nov. 21. We were told the administration agreed with our approach. No such point of contact has yet been established. We were given no guidance; therefore we made no recommendations to the shah as to what he should do when and is his medical condition permits him to leave the United States.

I reaffirm my support for the effort to assure a measure of decency toward a fallen friend of this country. The issue of the shah’s asylum goes not only to the moral stature of our nation but also to our ability to elicit trust and support among other nations -- especially other moderate regimes in the area. I do not condone all the practices of the shah’s government, though they must be assessed by the standards of his region and, even more, the practices of those who will sit in judgment. Yes, we must seek the best relations which are possible with the new dispensation in Iran. But we shall impress no one by engaging in retrospective denigration of an ally of a generation in his hour of need. We cannot always assure the future of our friends; we have a better chance of assuring our own future if we remember who our friends are, and acknowledge what human debts we owe those who stood by us in our hours of need.

I hope this ends the controversy. I think it is imperative that all Americans close ranks. Nothing will more strengthen the president’s hand in pursuit of an honorable outcome than a continuing demonstration of national unity now and in the aftermath of the crisis. I shall do all I can to contribute to this end.

Soccer Imitates Life (1986)

I have been an avid soccer fan ever since my youth in Fuerth, a soccer-mad city in southern Germany, which for some inexplicable reason won three championships in a three-year period. My father despaired of a son who preferred to stand for two hours (there were very few seats) watching a soccer game rather than sit in comfort at the opera or be protected from the elements in a museum.

Soccer evokes extraordinary passions, especially during the quadrennial World Cup competition now drawing to a close for 1986. It has been estimated that the Brazilian gross national product suffers a loss of hundreds of millions of dollars for every day Brazil plays because its rabid fans sit before television sets or radios. I am sure statistics in other soccer citadels are comparable.

Soccer lends itself to a competition of national teams because it requires an extraordinary combination of individual skill, teamwork and strategic sense. Since there are 11 players engaged in continuous action, each game produces its own tactical necessities that must be solved through improvisation on the playing field.

This was true even in my youth, when soccer was much less complex and much more oriented to the offensive. Then there were five forwards, three midfield players, two fullbacks and a goalie. The offense being numerically superior to the defense, goals were much more frequent than they are now.

By the late 1930s managers sought to overcome this advantage by assigning the center half to shadow the opposing center forward. The creation of three de facto fullbacks constricted the attack that since time immemorial had been built around the center forward. In the early 1950s the Hungarians showed how to overwhelm this defense by turning their center forward into a decoy. He would move to the sidelines or back toward the midfield, thus drawing the shadowing defensive player out of position and creating an empty space in front of the goal.

But as in military strategy, every offensive maneuver in soccer evokes a compensating defensive move. The answer to the roving center forward was a zone defense; defensive players were required to cover a certain area regardless of which attacking player was located there. Total soccer was invented shortly afterward; all players had to be able to defend as well as attack and to shift from one mode to the other with extreme rapidity.

The modern style of soccer in fact emphasizes defense -- with a few exceptions such as Brazil, Argentina and France. The basic alignment has become four defensive and four midfield players; the forwards have shrunk to two. These massed defenses can in general be overcome only by rapid thrusts emphasizing very accurate passing. The result is a very tactical game whose complexity makes it a fascinating reflection of national attitudes.

The styles of play of leading soccer powers -- West Germany, Brazil, Italy and England -- illustrate this point.

West Germany is, with Italy and Brazil, the most successful team of the modern era. West German soccer entered the postwar era with no particular legacy. Postwar Germany’s newly professional soccer being as novel as the frontiers of the state it represents, it could adopt total soccer with a vengeance. The German national team plays soccer the way its General Staff prepared for war; its games are meticulously planned; each player is skilled in both attack and defense. Intricate pass patterns evolve, starting wherever possible right in front of the German goal. Anything achievable by human foresight, careful preparation and hard work is accounted for.

And there have been great successes. Of the last six World Cups, Germany has won two; was second twice; third once and out of the running only in 1978. At the same time the German national team suffers from the same disability as the famous Schlieffen plan on which German strategy in World War I was based. There is a limit to human foresight; psychological stress on those charged with executing excessively complex maneuvers cannot be calculated in advance.

If the German team falls behind, or if its intricate approach yields no results, its game is shadowed by the underlying national premonition that in the end even the most dedicated effort will go unrewarded; by the nightmare that ultimately fate is cruel, a nightmare reinforced by the knowledge that the German media are unmerciful when their always high expectations go unfulfilled. The impression is unavoidable that the Germans’ often outstanding national soccer team has not brought a proportionate amount of joy to a people that may not in its heart of hearts believe that joy is its ultimate national destiny.

Brazil suffers no such inhibitions. Its national teams are an assertion that virtue without joy is a contradiction in terms. Brazilian teams display a contagious exuberance; Brazilian fans cheer on to the ecstatic beat of samba bands. Brazil always has the most acrobatic players; the individuals one cannot forget, whatever the outcome of the match.

But, as in Brazil’s political institutions, this individualism is combined with an extraordinary ability to make the practical arrangements required for effective national performance. As a result, Brazil has appeared in more World Cups and won more than any other team. It was eliminated in the quarter finals of the current competition partly as a result of an egregious seeding, which placed Italy, the old World Cup holder, France, the European champion, and two potential champions, Brazil and West Germany, into the same half of a sudden-death elimination round, while the other half contained only one team, Argentina, that has ever been in the final four.

To be sure, the Brazilians, being human, cannot avoid some weaknesses. The players sometimes are so intoxicated by their brilliant maneuvers that they occasionally forget that the purpose of the exercise is to score goals. And I have never seen an outstanding Brazilian goalkeeper. Perhaps the reason is that the task is too lonely; the goalkeeper, after all, has to stay put while his teammates enjoy themselves tracing clever pass patterns on the turf. Or perhaps the only purely defensive assignment on a team offends the Brazilian self-image.

The fact remains that a Brazilian team on the attack -- which is most of the time -- looks like a samba band at carnival time. Wave after wave of yellow shirts roll against the opposing goal until the opposition is overwhelmed without being humiliated: in the end it is no disgrace to be defeated by a team whose style no one else can imitate.

Italy’s record places it among the top teams of world soccer despite the fact that it fell victim to the same absurd seeding as Brazil. The Italian style of soccer reflects the national conviction forged by the vicissitudes of an ancient history that the grim struggle for survival must be based on a careful husbanding of energy for the main task. It presupposes a correct assessment of the character of the opponent, paired with an unostentatious and matter-of-fact perseverance that obscures the many intricate levels on which the competition takes place.

The initial objective of Italian teams is to force the opponent out of his game plan, to wreck his concentration and to induce him to abandon his preferred style. In the early stages of a match the Italian team tends to look destructive and purely defensive -- a style achievable only by extreme toughness and discipline. But once the Italian team has imposed its pattern, it can play some of the most effective, even beautiful soccer in the world -- though it will never waste energy simply on looking good.

The World Cup of 1982 is a case in point. In the first round Italy conserved its energy by playing three execrable draws. But in the sudden-death competition Italy first so frustrated Argentina’s dashing style of attack that the outstanding Argentine player, Maradona, was ejected for assaulting one of his Italian tormentors. In the next game, against Brazil, Italy exploited Brazil’s penchant for the all-out offensive to win with quick-breaking counterattacks. In the final Italy rattled the German team by abandoning its usual defensive tactic and prevailing with an all-out attack.

No discussion of national styles in soccer can be complete without some reference to England. Before World War II and for nearly a decade afterward, England was clearly the dominant soccer power. I say England, because for purposes of international soccer, the United Kingdom fields four teams: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. No doubt a single United Kingdom team using the best players from each would be more formidable; in international competition English clubs that can use players from all over the British Isles do much better than the national team.

But the decline in the fortunes of the English national soccer team is, in my view, primarily due to the refusal to adapt to the tactics of the modern era. Before World War II the English team overwhelmed its opponents with speed, power and condition. It specialized in rapid thrusts down the sidelines and high crosses that their forwards headed toward the goal with remarkable power. But as defenses massed, the English quick-breaking style lost much of its effectiveness; as most of Europe went over to professional soccer, the advantage of superior condition eroded. Yet England refused to adapt its tactical plan to the passing game, which is needed to break open the modern defense.

The English national team had never lost a game at home until 1954, when Hungary prevailed with its roving center forward. Since then, the English team has gradually declined. It is steady, reliable, tough. It never yields to panic. It is never defeated one-sidedly. It achieves everything attainable by character and tenacity.

Regrettably -- because I thought the pre-World War II game was more fun to watch -- it has also been somewhat pedantic and stereotyped, as if in nostalgic thrall to a bygone era. England has never won a European championship; it has prevailed only once in the World Cup and that was 20 years ago playing before its own fans. All of us who enjoy England’s muscular game will hope that England’s relative success in the current World Cup heralds a genuine revival.

In short, the World Cup arouses such passions because it involves both an athletic competition and a contest of national styles. It can be no accident that the most offensive-minded and elegant European team is France, which only recently has become a soccer power. Or that no team from a communist country has ever reached the finals of the World Cup (except Hungary in 1954) or even the last four; too much stereotyped planning destroys the creativity indispensable for effective national soccer.

Soccer has never taken hold in the United States partly because neither a national team nor a national style has been encouraged. Still, as an unreconstructed soccer fan, I hope that another attempt to popularize the sport will be made, perhaps by holding the next World Cup slated for the Western Hemisphere (in 1994) in this country.

What's Needed From Hamas (2006)

The image of Ariel Sharon lying comatose in an Israeli hospital has a haunting quality. There is the poignancy of the warrior who fought -- occasionally ruthlessly -- in all of Israel's wars, incapacitated when he was on the verge of proclaiming a dramatic reappraisal of Israel's approach to peace. And, there is the prospect that this combative general has transcended his implacable past to show both sides the sacrifice needed for a serious peace process.

A serious peace process assumes a reciprocal willingness to compromise. But traditional diplomacy works most effectively when there is a general agreement on goals; a minimum condition is that both sides accept each other's legitimacy, that the right of the parties to exist is taken for granted.

Such a reciprocal commitment has been lacking between Israel and the Palestinians. Until the Oslo agreement of 1993, Israel refused to deal with the Palestine Liberation Organization because its charter required the elimination of Israel and its policies included frequent recourse to terrorism. After Oslo, Israel was prepared to negotiate with the PLO, but only over autonomy of the occupied territories, not sovereignty. After Ariel Sharon became prime minister in 2001, he unexpectedly came to accept the emergence of a Palestinian state, first as a necessity, ultimately as an Israeli strategic requirement. At the moment of his illness, he was preparing to create the objective conditions for such an outcome through unilateral Israeli actions, including withdrawals from Gaza and major portions of the West Bank.

The Palestinians have yet to make a comparable adjustment. Even relatively conciliatory Arab statements, such as the Beirut summit declaration of 2003, reject Israel's legitimacy as inherent in its sovereignty; they require the fulfillment of certain prior conditions. Almost all official and semi-official Arab and Palestinian media and schoolbooks present Israel as an illegitimate, imperialist interloper in the region.

The emergence of Hamas as the dominant faction in Palestine should not be treated as a radical departure. Hamas represents the mind-set that prevented the full recognition of Israel's legitimacy by the PLO for all these decades, kept Yasser Arafat from accepting partition of Palestine at Camp David in 2000, produced two intifadas and consistently supported terrorism. Far too much of the debate within the Palestinian camp has been over whether Israel should be destroyed immediately by permanent confrontation or in stages in which occasional negotiations serve as periodic armistices. The reaction of the PLO's Fatah to the Hamas electoral victory has been an attempt to outflank Hamas on the radical side. Only a small number of moderates have accepted genuine and permanent coexistence.

This is why, heretofore, even seeming compromises were attainable only by verbal gymnastics using adjectives that kept the content capable of incompatible interpretations. The treatment of the refugee issue in the "road map" is a good example. It calls for an "agreed, just, fair, and realistic solution". To the Palestinians, "fair and just" signifies a return of refugees to all parts of former Palestine, including the current territory of Israel, thereby swamping it. To the Israelis, the phrase implies that returning refugees should settle on Palestinian territory only.

The advent of Hamas brings us to a point where the peace process must be brought into some conformity with conditions on the ground. The old game plan that Palestinian elections would produce a moderate secular partner cannot be implemented with Hamas in the near future. What would be needed from Hamas is an evolution comparable to Sharon's. The magnitude of that change is rarely adequately recognized. For most of his career, Sharon's strategic goal was the incorporation of the West Bank into Israel by a settlement policy designed to prevent Palestinian self-government over significant contiguous territory. In his indefatigable pursuit of this objective, Sharon became a familiar figure on his frequent visits to America, with maps of his strategic concept rolled up under his arms to brief his interlocutors.

Late in life, Sharon, together with a growing number of his compatriots, concluded that ruling the West Bank would deform Israel's historic objective. Instead of creating a Jewish homeland, the Jewish population would, in time, become a minority. The coexistence of two states in Palestinian territory had become imperative. Under Sharon, Israel seemed prepared to withdraw from close to 95 percent of West Bank territory, to abandon a significant percentage of the settlements -- many of them placed there by Sharon -- involving the movement of tens of thousands of settlers into pre-1967 Israel, and to compensate Palestinians for the retained territory by some equivalent portions of Israeli territory. Significant percentages of Israelis are prepared to add the Arab part of Jerusalem to such a settlement as the possible capital of a Palestinian state.

Progress has been prevented in large measure by the rigid insistence on the 1967 frontiers and the refugee issue -- both unfulfillable preconditions. The 1967 lines were established as demarcation lines of the 1948 cease-fire. Not a single Arab state accepted Israel as legitimate within these lines or was prepared to treat the dividing lines as an international border at that time. A return to the 1967 lines and the abandonment of the settlements near Jerusalem would be such a psychological trauma for Israel as to endanger its survival.

The most logical outcome would be to trade Israeli settlement blocs around Jerusalem -- a demand President Bush has all but endorsed -- for some equivalent territories in present-day Israel with significant Arab populations. The rejection of such an approach, or alternative available concepts, which would contribute greatly to stability and to demographic balance, reflects a determination to keep incendiary issues permanently open.

So far Hamas has left no ambiguity about its intentions, and it will clearly form the next government in the territories. A serious, comprehensive negotiation is therefore impossible unless Hamas crosses the same conceptual Rubicon Sharon did. And, as with Sharon, this may not happen until Hamas is convinced there is no alternative strategy -- a much harder task since the Sharon view is, in its essence, secular, while the Hamas view is fueled by religious conviction.

Hamas may in time accept institutionalized coexistence because Israel is in a position to bring about unilaterally much of the outcome described here. In principle, there would be much to be said for a comprehensive negotiation, especially if the United States plays a leading role and if other members of the "quartet" -- the United Nations, Europe and Russia -- that drafted the road map appreciate the outer limits of flexibility. It requires above all a Palestinian leadership going beyond anything heretofore shown and a willingness by moderate Arabs to face down their radical wing and make themselves responsible for a moderate, secular solution.

The danger of a final-status negotiation is that absent a firm prior agreement among the quartet, it might shade into an incendiary effort to impose terms on Israel incompatible with its long-term security and inconsistent with the parameters established by President Bill Clinton at Camp David and in his speech of January 2001 and by President Bush in his letter to Sharon in April 2004. Final-status negotiations in present conditions would probably founder on the underlying challenge described earlier: Do the parties view this as a step toward coexistence or as a stage toward final victory?

Does this mean the end of all diplomacy? Whatever happens, whoever governs Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the parties will be impelled by their closeness to one another to interact on a range of issues including crossing points, work permits and water usage. These de facto relationships might be shaped into some agreed international framework, in the process testing Hamas's claims of a willingness to discuss a truce. A possible outcome of such an effort could be an interim agreement of indefinite duration. Both sides would suspend some of their most intractable claims on permanent borders, on refugees and perhaps on the final status of the Arab part of Jerusalem. Israel would withdraw to lines based on the various formulas evolved since Camp David and endorsed by American presidents. It would dismantle settlements beyond the established dividing line. The Hamas-controlled government would be obliged to renounce violence. It would also need to agree to adhere to agreements previously reached by the PLO. A security system limiting military forces on the soil of the emerging Palestinian state would be established. State-sponsored propaganda to undermine the adversary would cease.

Such a long-term interim understanding would build on the precedent of the Israeli-Syrian disengagement agreement, which has regulated the deployment of forces in the Golan Heights since 1974 amid disputes on a variety of other issues and Syria's failure to recognize Israel.

Whether Hamas can be brought to such an outcome or any negotiated outcome depends on unity among the quartet and, crucially, on the moderate Arab world. It also remains to be seen whether the Israeli government emerging from the March 28 elections will have Sharon's prestige and authority to preserve Sharon's strategy, to which the acting prime minister, Ehud Olmert, has committed himself. A diplomatic framework is needed within which Israel can carry out those parts of the road map capable of unilateral implementation, and the world community can strive for an international status that ends violence while leaving open the prospect of further progress toward permanent peace.

The drama in Beijing (1989)

When a Communist country tries to make a REAL great leap forward. Even the best friends of China -- indeed especially its best friends -- have been shocked by the brutality onTiananmen Square. It is an event with international consequences as profound as its human consequences are tragic. And it poses a profound challenge to the conduct of American foreign policy. Of the three possible outcomes, the only one compatible with long-range American interests is also the most difficult, perhaps the least likely, to achieve. If China descends into civil war or chaos, it will disappear from the international equation for the foreseeable future. If ferocious repression continues, any American president will be obliged to take actions that would chill or destroy the U.S.-Chinese political and strategic relationship that goes back nearly two decades. The outcome consistent with American values and interests is, however, also largely outside American control. This would be a return to economic modernization coupled with a political conciliation giving the groups generated by the process of modernization a sense of political participation.

The stakes could not be higher. For China's huge size, vast and diverse population and the talent of its people make it an indispensable component of global and particularly Asian stability. When it is removed from the scales they tip toward extremes. Turmoil in China could give the Soviet Union what Gorbachev's diplomacy could not have achieved: increased freedom of maneuver toward the West. To the extent that China is absorbed in its domestic affairs, Vietnamese ambitions in Indochina could revive. Surely negotiations over the future of Kampuchea have already become more difficult. Soviet influence in North Korea is likely to grow. Chinese restraint on Pyongyang could weaken. Japan might reconsider its priorities. China needs strength to be an international factor, predictability to become modern and internal conciliation to remain united. It is therefore understandable that United States diplomacy should tread warily lest America become the target of everybody's frustrations.

For the turmoil in China cannot be easily encompassed in simple slogans like democracy against dictatorship. Given China's history and culture, democracy is unlikely to have the same meaning in Beijing as in Washington. The student unrest started as a demand for greater political participation within the Communist system. It seems to have merged since with a power struggle among key groups in the existing leadership structure. The occupation of the main square of a country's capital is not fully described as a peaceful demonstration. It is also a tactic to demonstrate the impotence of the government, to cause it to abdicate or to react. This does not detract from the validity of many of the demonstrators' grievances; nor does it excuse the ferocity of the response. I have observed these events with the pain of a spectator watching the disintegration of a family to whom one has a special attachment. I have heard most of the key actors of the recent drama express their hopes for their country at times when the current anguish was inconceivable. I met a tense and somewhat insecure Deng Xiaoping shortly after he was released from prison the first time in 1974. I watched his brave struggle against Mao and the Gang of Four. Two years later he was again in confinement, having been charged both times by Mao as a "capitalist roader" and a "party splitter".

Asense of proportion requires us to remember that had Deng retired a year ago, history would record him as one of China's great reformers. It was the reforms he initiated in 1979 that sent tens of thousands of Chinese students to Western countries, where they were exposed to values on which they are now insisting and that abolished the agricultural communes and made China nearly self-sufficient in food. It turned the drab, gray, fearful China of the Cultural Revolution into a country of greater consumer goods, a thriving construction boom, and -- in the end -- a challenge to the political system. The progress of the past decade has been dramatic; it is sad to see all this now in such jeopardy. What Deng and his associates did not foresee was the political consequences of their successes. Perhaps the economic challenge proved too consuming. Mature communism suffers from the disease that its incentives are all wrong, rewarding stagnation and discouraging initiative. In a centrally planned economy, goods and services are allocated by bureaucratic decision. Over a period of time, prices established by administrative fiat lose their relationship to costs. In police states such as Stalin's Russia, the pricing system becomes a means of extorting resources from the population. However, as terror is eased, prices turn into subsidies and are transformed into a method of gaining public support for the Communist Party. But communism is unable to abolish the laws of economics.

Somebody must pay for real costs. The penalty of central planning and subsidized pricing is poor maintenance, lack of innovation and overemployment -- in other words, stagnation and falling per capita income. Enormous discretion in the hands of bureaucrats inevitably leads to corruption. Jobs, education and most perquisites depend on some kind of personal relationship. It is one of history's ironies that communism, advertised as bringing a classless society, tends to breed a privileged class of feudal proportions. Deng and his associates chose to overcome this stagnation by embarking on market economics and decentralized decision-making. But the early stages of such a process tend to combine the problems of planning with those of market economics. The attempt to make prices reflect real costs inevitably leads to price increases, at least in the short term. In China last year, price reform caused a run on savings to buy up goods before prices went even higher, creating a vicious cycle of hoarding and greater inflation. China has paid a huge price for being the only Communist country to have the courage of its economic convictions.

The shift to market economics actually increases certain opportunities for corruption, at least for an interim period. The fact that two economic sectors coexist -- a shrinking but still very large public sector and a growing market economy -- produces two sets of prices. Unscrupulous bureaucrats and entrepreneurs are thus in a position to shift commodities back and forth between the two sectors for personal gain. In addition, the marketplace creates its own discontent. It is the essence of a market economy that somebody wins and somebody loses. In the early stages of a market economy the winnings are likely to be disproportionate. The losers are tempted to blame the "system" rather than their own failure. Often they are right. Undoubtedly some of the profits in the private sector in China have been the result of widespread graft and nepotism. Nepotism is a special problem in a culture as family-oriented as the Chinese. In times of turmoil, Chinese turn to their families. In all Chinese societies -- whether it is mainland China, Taiwan, Singapore or Hong Kong -- ultimate reliance is placed on family members, who in turn benefit in ways unrelated to a strict evaluation of their merits.

In short, it is the relative success of economic reform which has produced the constituencies at the core of the discontent. A modern economy requires a degree of pluralism. There must be a sharing of information and an easy relationship with other technologically advanced countries. Otherwise investment will dry up and the most educated groups inside the country -- the men and women most needed to sustain progress -- will be at first passive and ultimately hostile. Strangely enough, I do not think that Deng and his associates would differ very much from their critics about the causes of unrest. Where they disagree is not in their economic goals but over the political processes necessary to institutionalize them. To Deng Xiaoping the demonstrations recall the Cultural Revolution, when throngs of students sought to purify Communist ideology by means that led to loss of his liberty, made his son a paraplegic and disrupted the lives of tens of millions. In the end the Cultural Revolution produced so many diverse factions that China was at the edge of chaos. And chaos is the nightmare of a leadership that grew out of the civil wars and still remembers colonialism and Japanese domination, which it believes was facilitated by China's internal weakness. Hence Deng thought the new groups should be satisfied with economic progress and be willing to forgo political change, at least until the economy was further along. This is why his chosen successors, Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang, ran afoul of their chief when they tried to accommodate the new constituencies.

As day-to-day operators of the system, they understood the political dilemma of mature communism: there is no mechanism with which to renew the claim to authority; only slogans about the infallibility of a party which claims a monopoly of power because its bureaucrats allegedly represent historical truth. Deng's refusal and that of his generation of leaders to face this reality led to the destruction of the system of succession he established to avoid the periodic purges by which other Communist societies have solved their leadership issues. Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang were consumed by the processes they had been installed to institutionalize and by the inability of the great reformer to face the proposition that economic reform creates not short-term gratitude but momentum toward political pluralism. The dilemma of China after the guns started speaking is this: unless China returns to the path of modernization, it will descend into chaos or be driven back to the practices of Maoism: isolation from the outside world and economic stagnation, sources of permanent weakness from which even Mao sought to escape at the end of his life.

This would be a truly tragic end for Deng, who suffered so cruelly during the Cultural Revolution. On the other hand, modernization requires the support of the groups essential for the operation of a complex technological society and some sort of clear-cut relationship with other advanced societies. America, too, faces serious dilemmas. In 1969 the Nixon administration returned a hostile response to Soviet hints of a preemptive attack on China even though there was no contact with Beijing, which in fact vilified America at every opportunity. The reason was our conviction that the territorial integrity of China was essential to peace in Asia and in the world. In 1971 the opening to China took place during the Cultural Revolution, which we found morally repellent, because vital American interests seemed to require returning China to the international community. The relationship between China and the United States has been sustained by four administrations of both parties because all its leaders have believed that America has a stake in China's modernization and strength. In turn, China needs America's contribution to the equilibrium in Asia.

To be sure, America has its own values, its own definition of what makes life worthwhile. And these must be affirmed at appropriate occasions, and they must be respected by other countries. But the United States has to keep in mind the extraordinary sensitivity of any Chinese leader to what appears to be foreign intervention. In 1959 China broke with the U.S.S.R. over that very issue and endured precarious isolation for 12 years rather than yield. The national security of the United States is also a value of which America's leaders are the custodians. President Bush seems to me to have walked this tightrope with extraordinary skill and delicacy. The administration must take care not to let itself be pushed into measures or pronouncements that might cast doubt on America's vital concern for the territorial integrity and modernization of China. Such actions would place a serious strain on long-term U.S.-Chinese relations. They could also rekindle dangerous temptations by some of China's neighbors. If ever there was an occasion for bipartisan foreign policy, it is now. Everybody should forgo the temptation to score debating points and unite behind an agreed-upon definition of the national interest. Thus, in the end, the drama in Beijing is for Americans a test of our political maturity.

A strategy for Afghanistan (2009)

The Obama administration faces dilemmas familiar to several of its predecessors. America cannot withdraw from Afghanistan now, but neither can it sustain the strategy that brought us to this point.

The stakes are high. Victory for the Taliban in Afghanistan would give a tremendous shot in the arm to jihadism globally -- threatening Pakistan with jihadist takeover and possibly intensifying terrorism in India, which has the world's third-largest Muslim population. Russia, China and Indonesia, which have all been targets of jihadist Islam, could also be at risk.

Heretofore, America has pursued traditional anti-insurgency tactics: to create a central government, help it extend its authority over the entire country and, in the process, bring about a modern bureaucratic and democratic society.

That strategy cannot succeed in Afghanistan -- especially not as an essentially solitary effort. The country is too large, the territory too forbidding, the ethnic composition too varied, the population too heavily armed. No foreign conqueror has ever succeeded in occupying Afghanistan. Even attempts to establish centralized Afghan control have rarely succeeded and then not for long. Afghans seem to define their country in terms of a common dedication to independence but not to unitary or centralized self-government.

The truism that the war is, in effect, a battle for the hearts and minds of the Afghan population is valid enough in concept. The low standard of living of much of the population has been exacerbated by 30 years of civil war. The economy is on the verge of sustaining itself through the sale of narcotics. There is no significant democratic tradition. Reform is a moral necessity. But the time scale for reform is out of sync with the requirements of anti-guerrilla warfare. Reform will require decades; it should occur as a result of, and even side by side with, the attainment of security -- but it cannot be the precondition for it.

The military effort will inevitably unfold at a pace different from the country's political evolution. Immediately, however, we are able to make sure that our aid efforts, now diffuse and inefficient, are coherent and relevant to popular needs. And much greater emphasis should be given to local and regional entities.

Military strategy should concentrate on preventing the emergence of a coherent, contiguous state within the state controlled by jihadists. In practice, this would mean control of Kabul and the Pashtun area. A jihadist base area on both sides of the mountainous Afghan-Pakistani border would become a permanent threat to hopes for a moderate evolution and to all of Afghanistan's neighbors. Gen. David Petraeus has argued that, reinforced by the number of American forces he has recommended, he should be able to control the 10 percent of Afghan territory where, in his words, 80 percent of the military threat originates. This is the region where the "clear, hold and build" strategy that had success in Iraq is particularly applicable.

In the rest of the country, our military strategy should be more fluid, aimed at forestalling the emergence of terrorist strong points. It should be based on close cooperation with local chiefs and coordination with their militias to be trained by U.S. forces -- the kind of strategy that proved so successful in Anbar province, the Sunni stronghold in Iraq. This is a plausible approach, though it seems improbable that the 17,000 reinforcements President Obama recently committed are enough. In the end, the fundamental issue is not so much how the war will be conducted but how it will be ended. Afghanistan is almost the archetypal international problem requiring a multilateral solution for a political framework to emerge. In the 19th century, formal neutrality was sometimes negotiated to impose a standstill on interventions in and from strategically located countries. This provided a framework for defusing day-to-day international relations. (Belgian neutrality, for example, was not challenged for nearly 100 years.) Is it possible to devise a modern equivalent?

In Afghanistan, such an outcome is achievable only if its principal neighbors agree on a policy of restraint and opposition to terrorism. Their recent conduct argues against such prospects. Yet history should teach them that unilateral efforts at dominance are likely to fail in the face of countervailing intervention by other outside actors. To explore such a vision, the United States should propose a working group of Afghanistan's neighbors, India and the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council. Such a group should be charged with assisting in the reconstruction and reform of Afghanistan and establishing principles for the country's international status and obligations to oppose terrorist activities. Over time, America's unilateral military efforts can merge with the diplomatic efforts of this group. As the strategy envisaged by Petraeus succeeds, the prospects for a political solution along these lines would grow correspondingly.

The precondition for such a policy is cooperation with Russia and Pakistan. With respect to Russia, it requires a clear definition of priorities, especially a choice between partnership or adversarial conduct insofar as it depends on us.

The conduct of Pakistan will be crucial. Pakistan's leaders must face the fact that continued toleration of the sanctuaries -- or continued impotence with respect to them -- will draw their country ever deeper into an international maelstrom. If the jihadists were to prevail in Afghanistan, Pakistan would surely be the next target -- as is observable by activity already taking place along the existing borders and in the Swat Valley close to Islamabad. If that were to happen, the affected countries would need to consult each other about the implications of the nuclear arsenal of a Pakistan being engulfed or even threatened by jihadists. Like every country engaged in Afghanistan, Pakistan has to make decisions that will affect its international position for decades.

Other countries, especially our NATO allies, face comparable choices. Symbolically, the participation of NATO partners is significant. But save for some notable exceptions, public support for military operations is negligible in almost all NATO countries. It is possible, of course, that Obama's popularity in Europe can modify these attitudes -- but probably to only a limited extent. The president would have to decide how far he will carry the inevitable differences and face the reality that disagreements concern fundamental questions of NATO's future and reach. Improved consultation would ease this process. It is likely to turn out, however, that the differences are not procedural. We may then conclude that an enhanced NATO contribution to Afghanistan's reconstruction is more useful than a marginal military effort constrained by caveats. But if NATO turns into an alliance a la carte in this manner, a precedent that can cut both ways would be set. Those who tempt a U.S. withdrawal by their indifference or irresolution evade the prospect that it would be the prelude to a long series of accelerating and escalating crises.

President Obama said Tuesday night that he "will not allow terrorists to plot against the American people from safe havens halfway around the world". Whatever strategy his team selects needs to be pursued with determination. It is not possible to hedge against failure by half-hearted execution.

My fallen friend, Yitzhak Rabin (1995)

Imet Yitzhak Rabin in 1967, shortly after the end of the Six Day War. Then a professor of government at Harvard, I had been invited to Israel to give some lectures, one of which was attended by most of the senior generals. Afterward, Rabin walked with me through the streets of Tel Aviv to lunch. It was in the afterglow of his stunning victory, and people were coming up to shake his hand, some to touch his shoulder. Though Rabin acted as if he were oblivious to all the attention, his smile conveyed a different message. Occasionally, he would mutter the gruff comment of a humble man seeking to convey that, however pleased he might be by the public attention, in the end no special recognition was due him for having done his duty.Rabin became a close friend when we both served in Washington. But how does one describe a friendship with a man so reticent, so reluctant to impose his emotions, and yet so deeply caring? So if I describe my understanding of the impulses that moved my fallen friend, I will not be able to convey the luminous integrity that defined Rabin's charisma -- a man who distrusted public relations and the professionals of charisma. A gentle soul, Rabin steeled himself to acts of conspicuous toughness; a military man, he taught himself, step by reluctant step, the grammar of peace. Through the course of a lifetime of service to the security of his country, he became convinced that Israel's long-term security required it to go beyond the accumulation of military power. A people who have survived the tragedies of Jewish history can never afford to forget its lurking perils. But a state of 5 million living in a sea of several hundred million Islamists will consume its substance if fear is allowed to become its sole motivating force. Israel can never delegate its defense to others, yet at the end of the day it has to relate its security to the dignity and self-respect of the peoples among whom it has established itself. Rabin's ultimate insight was that his people owed it to themselves to dare attempt the peace of reconciliation, not merely the peace of strength.His funeral was a testament to how well he had succeeded in elevating security to a moral dimension. Even three years ago, it would have been unimaginable that two Arab heads of state, a Russian prime minister and the American president would stand side by side to deliver eulogies in Jerusalem to an Israeli prime minister in the presence of the heads of almost every European government.Rabin would have been the last person to trade international approval for Israeli strength. But he was a wise enough soldier to understand as well that moral consensus is itself a vital element of strength. This is especially true of Israel's close, complex and indispensable relationship with the United States.

The security of America, a continental country, can be threatened only by vast transformations occurring over a long period of time. Israel, on the other hand, is obliged to share a territory only 50 miles wide with a hostile population, many of whom consider Israel's very existence illegitimate. America has never known neighbors intent on -- or capable of -- harming it; when I first met Rabin, Israel had never known neighbors having any other purpose. America has had every right to ask Israel to run risks on behalf of peace; American government officials -- and I was not always exempt -- have occasionally been impatient with the precise, even niggling calculations Israeli leaders consider essential. But America also owes Israel sympathy for how circumscribed its margin of survival is.

At times, Israeli leaders and their American supporters have pursued security by seeking to extract concessions beyond those in which the American government really believed. Rabin's contribution was his recognition that Israeli-American cooperation, especially in crises, was most reliable if based on a sense of partnership rather than on lobbying skill.

In his dealings with me, Rabin eschewed appeals to our common religion in favor of the elaboration of common Israeli-American interests. He considered this task far too important to try to confuse it with displays of charm. His impact was profound because he would face reality and follow wherever it might lead him, however painful this might prove to his own instincts.

Rabin entered the peace process reluctantly, suspicious of any alterations in the territorial status quo. After the 1973 war, he became convinced that Israel should strive to husband its resources, especially human resources. Recognizing that Israel needed maneuvering room, he participated in the disengagement agreements with Egypt, Syria and then again with Egypt. At first his motivation was largely tactical. But as the process gained momentum, through comprehensive peace accords with Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994, finally to the wrenching breakthrough with the PLO in 1993, peace became Rabin's vocation.

It was not an easy journey. Like so many of his countrymen, Rabin hated to trade the tangible benefits of territory for intangible gains in international recognition and mitigation of Arab hostility. He knew better than most that the concessions being demanded of Israel were permanent while the contributions of the other side were intangible and more easily revoked.

At first, Rabin would speak of "a piece of peace for a piece of land". But he was far too sophisticated to believe in the segmentation of peace. He never doubted that the process would be painful and that there was not likely to be a clear-cut terminus. But the Jewish people, having lived in ghettos for a thousand years, should not, in Rabin's view, turn their national home into a new ghetto, cut off from the rest of humanity by growing philosophical and political alienation. The worldwide sense of loss generated by his death shows how well Rabin had cemented a moral consensus.

Rabin never resorted to the rhetoric describing peace as some nirvana in which all tensions magically disappear. As a "sabra" -- that is, an Israeli born in Israel -- his entire life had consisted of variations of struggle. But if Rabin ever permitted himself a display of emotion, it was when he spoke of Israeli soldiers killed in battle and of families decimated by Israel's endless wars. He did not promise an end to the exertion; he wanted to contribute to an end of the bloodshed. He painted no vistas of bliss, but neither would he resign himself to the doom of constant warfare.

In pursuit of that goal, Rabin, with great hesitation, faced the reality that there are only three solutions to the problem of interaction between the Israeli and Arab populations on the West Bank: integration into Israel, some kind of colonial status or a type of autonomy that implies some kind of statehood. Integration having been rejected by both the Israeli and Arab communities, and with colonial status for the West Bank certain to isolate Israel in a situation comparable to South Africa's under apartheid, Rabin reluctantly faced the reality that autonomy is the only realistic option.

The archconservative Menachem Begin had as prime minister come to the same conclusion when he agreed to Palestinian autonomy in the Camp David accord of 1978, though neither he nor his successors ever brought themselves to implement what they had pledged. Rabin was too honest to fail to recognize that autonomy would sooner or later translate into some kind of Palestinian statehood.

I went through the same intellectual trajectory as Rabin. When I first saw the agreement between Israel and the PLO, I feared that a Palestinian state would become a staging area for terrorism and that a return to the borders of 1967 would make Israel indefensible, and I said so both publicly and privately. Rabin had to weigh these dangers, which he never disputed, against the alternative of permanent war carried on in international isolation and at the risk of gradually loosened ties with America. He was determined to use the peace process to define security frontiers along the Jordan and in the Judean hills, which Israel would not abandon, whatever the legal status of the West Bank. And he attempted to counteract the risks of terrorism by the alliance with Jordan -- the state that stood to lose even more by Palestinian revisionism than Israel. In the process -- which Rabin intended to stretch out over many years -- he expected to work out a pattern of coexistence that would encourage moderation among Palestinians and give Yasser Arafat an incentive to practice restraint. Israel's circumstances permit only a choice among complexities. Not all of Rabin's objectives were reached in his lifetime. But he was ever inching toward them. I had a long lunch with him two weeks before he was murdered. He commented wryly about the recent assaults upon him. Rabin said he thought Jordan and Israel would between them be able to prevent the West Bank from becoming radicalized or to neutralize a radical Palestinian entity if it arose. He was confident of achieving a military arrangement far more secure than the 1967 line. And if the process stalled, the lull would have increased Israel's political maneuvering room.

Rabin was not some mystic sprung from the desert preaching peace in the abstract. He was a warrior who learned on the battlefields the imperatives of reconciliation. He was a thinker who did not shrink from the sphere of power.

Not demanding illusory perfection as a prerequisite to action, Rabin, like all great statesmen, had the ability to translate his vision into gradual measures to approach his goal in stages. Like Moses, he did not live to reach the Promised Land. But his legacy has brought it within sight -- especially if his successors remain true not only to his vision but also to his analytical judgment.

Some months ago, a friend of Rabin telephoned to tell me that the prime minister had just had the difficult duty of consoling the mother of a young officer killed in a raid Rabin had ordered to free a hostage. What made the task especially painful was that the son's father had died in the 1973 war and the boy, having already completed his tour of duty, had volunteered for this last assignment. The prime minister, said our mutual friend, would no doubt appreciate a phone call.

When I reached Rabin, he spoke in the monosyllabic manner he adopted whenever he did not want to burden others with his pain. Finally, I said: "You know, Yitzhak, I think that all your life has been a preparation for the present phase". No more than at our first meeting was Rabin willing to elevate what he considered his duty into a universal cause. "We shall see", he replied. And we have. (C)1995, Los Angeles Times Syndicate The writer, a former secretary of state, is president of Kissinger Associates, an international consulting firm that has clients with business interests in many countries abroad.

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