Is Henry Kissinger trying to update the domino theory to fit what he fears in 2008? He had a “Lunch with the FT” interview in Saturday’s Financial Times and surprised his interviewer, historian Stephen Graubard, by linking the war in Iraq and Muslims in India. As Graubard wrote:
He believes the military “surge” is working and says the next question is when to start to move away from an exclusively military option. “This is not a war of states,” Kissinger says. “If we withdraw from Iraq, the radical elements in all the neighbouring Arab countries will be greatly encouraged.” We will, he fears, be unable to maintain ourselves in Afghanistan, or to retain our present position in Pakistan.
He fears a rapid withdrawal could radicalise the vast Islamic community in India. I am fascinated by this statement – I have never heard anyone else say it so robustly – and suggest that he argued in a similar vein about the dangers of a departure from Vietnam. “Not at all,” he says, adding that the collapse in Vietnam was partly compensated for by the almost simultaneous and fortuitous disintegration of the Soviet Union.
Hmmm … that’s not what we’ve been noticing. In fact, our chief correspondent in New Delhi, Alistair Scrutton, just wrote a post on a “Movement Against Terrorism” among Muslim clerics there urging imams to preach against terrorism at Friday prayers across India. Earlier this year, an influential Islamic seminary declared terrorism un-Islamic. That’s not to say there’s no possibility of anything happening, but it seems the situation is more complex than Kissinger seems to think.
It’s not clear whether Kissinger lunched with the FT before or after the Jaipur bomb that killed 60 people. But he is a historian who prides himself on taking a longer-term view. Do you think he’s right to see dominoes falling in India if the United States pulls out of Iraq?