Ex-CIA Chief Woolsey: Time to 'Build Bridges' With Allies

Image: Ex-CIA Chief Woolsey: Time to 'Build Bridges' With Allies

Friday, 01 Nov 2013 01:06 PM

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Allies are wary of the United States — for good reason — says former CIA Director James Woolsey.

That wariness comes from "having seen less American leadership in recent years on a number of important issues," he writes in The Wall Street Journal.

In Syria, for example, "the U.S. is not even leading from behind but rather stumbling along behind," Woolsey says, adding that France, for example, was clear about its policy toward Syria and was prepared to attack President Bashar Assad.

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In Iran, Woolsey writes, "wavering American leadership has also led the Europeans to fear that their tough economic sanctions may be subjected to a pre-emptive weakening, now that the Obama administration is avidly pursuing talks with Tehran over its nuclear program."

Woolsey notes that U.S. allies "over the past several years, almost always including Britain, have taken action that is in America's interest. But they have also rather frequently seen the U.S. make unilateral concessions to enemies and refuse to lead."

U.S. allies, he writes, deserve an apology because, "[a]t our worst, we have suggested by our behavior that it is better to be an enemy of the United States (Assad) than a friend (Hosni Mubarak)."

The nation's former top intelligence official must now offer a sense leadership and direction much as it during the Cold War.

"But even in the absence of such leadership, the U.S. can take another step to build necessary bridges with its allies," Woolsey writes, noting that a good start would be to ease concerns over recent reports that the National Security Agency spied on the leaders of Germany and France.

"America already is part of the decades-old 'Five Eyes' pact with Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, agreeing to share intelligence and not to spy on each other. The U.S. should accede to recent requests from Germany and France to join the group," Woolsey says.

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