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Ambassador Peter Galbraith Talks About US Involvement in Iraq

  • Libby Massey

Ambassador Galbraith, former U.S. Ambassador to Croatia and author of the new book, Unintended Consequences: How the War in Iraq Strengthened America’s Enemies, says that there are currently no prospects, plans, or strategies for achieving an acceptable level of democracy or national unity in Iraq, and therefore, America has already lost the war.

Ambassador Galbraith spoke with host Carol Castiel and Taclan Suerdem, Managing Editor of VOA’s Near East and Central Asian Division on Press Conference, USA about his new book.

Regarding the recent decline in violence in Iraq, Ambassador Galbraith points to three main reasons: the decision of Sunni tribal leaders to stop cooperating with al-Qaida and to start fighting for their own survival, the decision of the Shiite Mahdi Army to stand down, and the fact that a certain degree of “ethnic cleansing” in Iraq had already taken place before the surge in American troops began. The Bush administration and several other analysts have emphasized the “surge,” or injection of more American troops, as the primary reason for the decline in violence.

Ambassador Galbraith says that an independent Kurdistan in Iraq would not be a threat to Turkey, as many believe. In fact, the new state could actually help Turkey in many ways. He agrees with many Turkish analysts and politicians who say that Kurdistan would be a buffer zone against Iranian influence in Iraq. It would also be a nation that is very similar to Turkey given its secular, pro-Western, and non-Arab traditions. If Kurdistan became independent, it would need to find outside support, and the Kurds would most likely turn to Turkey.

Ambassador Galbraith also offered his views on declining US prestige around the world. He blames President Bush and his policies, particularly in the Middle East, for undermining America’s image. For that reason he says that a victory in November by either Democratic Senator Barack Obama or Republican Senator John McCain will automatically enhance America’s reputation. However, he thinks that by virtue of his historic candidacy and foreign policy positions, Senator Obama would have a more positive impact. Ambassador Galbraith also asserts that the Bush administration adopted a unilateral approach to foreign policy, especially in its first term, which simply did not work. He says the next U.S. president should do more to engage its allies and respect the views of the rest of the world.

To hear more about Ambassador Galbraith’s ideas in his new book, Unintended Consequences: How War in Iraq Strengthened America’s Enemies, click here to listen to this week’s Press Conference, USA online, or as a podcast.
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