Foreign policy expert Robert Kagan tells Newsmax.TV that President Barack Obama has given Afghans, Pakistanis, and Americans just cause to question policies that have aggravated Middle East tensions.
Kagan, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and author of the new book, “The World America Made,”
described America as “the strongest player in the international system.”
Asked what can be done to quiet growing rage after U.S. troops burned Qurans in a cleanup operation at the Bagram airbase near Kabul, Kagan said, “The larger thing the president needs to do is make sure we have a successful military strategy that allows us to succeed in Afghanistan.”
A man wearing Afghan army uniform shot and killed two U.S. troops Thursday as anti-American protests escalated, and protesters lobbed grenades at a U.S. base today.
“I would say he’s given every reason for people in the region, people in Afghanistan, people in Pakistan, and people in the United States to doubt that we have any staying power there. The talk now has been too much about getting out and that doesn’t help with the military effort,” Kagan said in a wide-ranging, exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV.
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Kagan also said Obama can’t “just sit there on his hands” after telling Syrian President Bashir Assad he must step down.
Kagan, who is one of Mitt Romney’s foreign policy advisers for his campaign for president, said both Romney and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich were correct in asserting that the United States should be arming Syrian rebels. Both candidates advocated that strategy during a presidential debate on CNN on Wednesday.
“I think if we were willing to arm opposition in Libya, we ought to be doubly willing to arm the opposition in Syria because, as Governor Romney said, Syria is a key and strategic place. It’s the only key ally of Iran. So we have a real strategic interest, not just a humanitarian interest in seeing Assad fall,” Kagan said.
When asked about the likelihood of U.S. military intervention in Iran, Kagan said: “I know people seemed to be shocked by this, but Americans . . . a majority favor military action against Iran, rather than allowing Iran to get nuclear weapons. So for all the alleged war weariness — I think that’s a striking fact.”
Kagan, whose book rebuts arguments that America’s political and military clout is waning, defended neo-conservatism and America’s place as the world’s super power.
“Our military is still far and away the strongest, just as it has been for many years. And our political influence remains significant.”
He said he remains hopeful that democracy is taking root in the Middle East after a series of uprisings in the region that ousted dictators in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya, but “there are still plenty of reasons to be worried.”
The best example may be Egypt.
“You have a military which is reluctant to give up power and has taken undemocratic steps, including backing some charges against Americans. And you have a Muslim Brotherhood, which has won its way into the parliament but their goals and their views are unclear,” Kagan said.
And although the long-term impact of the Arab Spring remains unclear, Kagan said any substantial democratic reform in the Middle East would not have been possible without the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, which started in 2003.
“Egyptians, I think, think of themselves as a superior people in the region. They look nearby and see Iraqis holding free and fair elections, and I think they had to ask themselves: Why them and not us?”
“Saddam Hussein — I think it’s worth reminding people — killed between half a million and a million people through execution, through the use of chemical weapons against his own people. He invaded two neighboring countries, Kuwait and Iran. He was way up there on the list of top 10 most dangerous people in the world. We are much better off not having him in power, despite the high price that has been paid.”
Editor’s note: To get a copy of Robert Kagan’s new book, “The World America Made,” at Amazon at a good price — Go Here Now. www.amazon.com/s/ref=sr_nr_p_n_feature_browse-b_mrr_0?rh=n%3A283155%2Ck%3Athe+world+america+made%2Cp_n_feature_browse-bin%3A2656020011&keywords=the+world+america+made&ie=UTF8&qid=1330274913&rnid=618072011/ref=nosim/?=newsmaxcom08-20
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