Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger says America cannot resort to military intervention “wherever there is human suffering,” because it is beyond U.S. capacity to do so, and it is up to the African Union to take the lead in dealing with the latest crisis in the Ivory Coast, where the civilian death toll at government hands has been estimated to exceed 1,000. Kissinger also told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren Monday U.S. participation should be the exception — and not the rule.
“First of all, we have to remember America — American’s lives are being risked in Afghanistan and Iraq at this moment. Therefore, any attempt by the United States to use military force has to be justified in terms of a vital security interest,” Kissinger said. “It can happen that humanitarian suffering is so great that one makes an exception.
“I understand why one made an exception in Libya. But we cannot enunciate a general principle of military intervention by the United States wherever there is human suffering, because it is beyond our capacity — and other nations have to bear some of that burden,” he continued. “In the case of the Ivory Coast, if the African Union were to raise this as a huge issue — or genuine African issue — and if other countries were willing to support a military operation, I could understand the United States gives support.”
Kissinger said America “cannot be in a position where the United States military, already overstretched, has to enter every civil conflict in the world.”
“When we do it, it has to be an exception, and it has to be tied to very specific national security objectives, which you can explain to the families that lose people — because in any significant intervention, American lives will be at stake,” he said. “We have interest that the evolution in the region take a direction towards democracy and not towards ethnic conflicts. You could argue that if the world stands by and sees a massacre in Benghazi that this would have an extremely unsettling effect on the whole region.
“So I can understand the case for protecting human lives,” Kissinger added. “But one also has to understand the consequences, because we are now in fact — in part — engaged in a civil war, and therefore, we will be judged by the outcome and not by our proclamation.”
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