Ex-advisers offer revised Iraq plans

Date: 02-01-07

By BARRY SCHWEID, AP Diplomatic Writer

WASHINGTON - President Carter's national security adviser said Thursday the Iraq war was likely to lead to "a head-on conflict" with Iran and other parts of the Muslim world.

Zbigniew Brzezinski also told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Bush administration policy was driven by "imperial hubris" and has proved to be a disaster on historic, strategic and moral grounds.

"If the United States continues to be bogged down in a protracted bloody involvement in Iraq, and I emphasize what I am about to say, the final destination on this downhill track is likely to be a head-on conflict with Iran and with much of the world of Islam at large," Brzezinski said.

Brent Scowcroft, national security adviser to Presidents Ford and George H.W. Bush, said a buildup of U.S. troops in Iraq "might be a positive blip" if it helped stabilize Baghdad. But he said it would not lead to fundamental changes in the situation.

"It is a tactic, not a strategy," he said.

Brzezinski set out as a plausible scenario for military collision: Iraq fails to meet benchmarks set by the U.S., followed by accusations that Iran is responsible for the failure and then a terrorist act or some provocation blamed on Iran. This scenario, he said, would play out with a defensive U.S. military action against Iran.

That, Brzezinski said, would plunge the United States into a quagmire that eventually would range across Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Proposing a massive shift in policy, Brzezinski said the U.S. should announce with no ambiguity its determination to leave Iraq "in a reasonably short period of time."

Brzezinski, a professor at the School for Advanced International Studies, said the U.S. should set with Iraqi leaders a date for the completion of the U.S. military disengagement.

Scowcroft recommended that U.S. troops gradually be deployed away from sectarian conflicts in Iraq, which should Iraqis should handle "however well or badly they are able to handle it."

U.S. troops should concentrate on training the Iraqi army, combating insurgents, limiting outside intervention and helping to protect Iraqi institutions, he said.

"That does not mean that the American presence should be reduced," Scowcroft said. "That should follow success in our efforts, not the calendar or the performance of others."


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