Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

True Victories Need Diplomacy, Not Just the Military

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

True Victories Need Diplomacy, Not Just the Military

Article excerpt

IT is absolutely right that Americans should remember the superlative victory of military planning and execution that was D-Day. But we should also find a way to memorialize the triumph of American diplomacy that was represented by the Marshall Plan and the transformation of Germany and Japan into stable democracies. For it was the inspired politics of the postwar administration put in place in areas controlled by the Western Allies that made the reemergence of militarism in Germany and Japan impossible for the rest of our century.

I say this not just because my father was involved, on the British side, in both parts of the planning - for the interservice coordination required for D-Day, and for the postwar administration of Germany. I say it also because the essential lesson about the linkage between military and political operations seems to have evaded today's national-security planners in Washington.

That was brought home to me when, even as the American TV networks filled my home with images of a windswept Omaha Beach, 50 years on, an Iraqi Kurdish friend called to deplore the deterioration of the situation in Kurdistan.

Remember Kurdistan? Remember the pictures of the Kurds of northern Iraq slipping their wretched way through muddy mountains as they fled in terror from an Iraqi military that our forces had left, inside Iraq itself, essentially intact?

Responding to international pressure, the Bush administration finally agreed, through an operation called Provide Comfort, to give military protection to these Kurds within a portion of their former homeland. In June 1991, that protection was formally handed over to the United Nations.

Since then, the mainly Kurdish population of the protected areas has existed in limbo. (For Arab opponents of the Baghdad regime in southern Iraq, the situation has been more clear-cut and much more horrifying. Their traditions, habitat, religious institutions, and thousands of their lives have been systematically wiped out in a campaign that can only be called genocidal.)

But back to the Kurds. Within their fragile bubble of international protection, they tried to build a decent administration. …

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