Michael Walzer is one of America's leading political philosophers. He is a professor emeritus at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey and editor of Dissent, a left-wing quarterly of politics and culture. He has written on a wide range of topics, including just and unjust wars, nationalism, ethnicity, economic justice, social criticism, radicalism, tolerance, and political obligation. He is also a contributing editor to The New Republic and a member of the editorial board of Philosophy & Public Affairs. To date he has written 27 books and has published over 300 articles, essays, and book reviews. He is a member of several philosophical organizations including the American Philosophical Society.
Question: Which candidate has the best foreign policy positions? Michael Walzer: No one is talking honestly about Iraq, and it’s very, very hard to say, what our responsibilities are given the unholy, or maybe its holy, mess that we have created in Iraq. We need to shout “help.” We need to ask for help from the Europeans. We need to open negotiations with the Iranians. We need to be talking to the Turks, and we need to be planning our own disengagement, but any politician, any democratic politician who claims that we are going to withdraw from Iraq in the near future is just lying to the American people, because the Kurds don’t want us to withdraw, the Sunni chiefs don’t want us to withdraw, the Shiite government doesn’t want us to withdraw, the Saudis, the Kuwaitis, the Jordanians, the Egyptians, the Israelis and the Turks don’t want us to withdraw, and all of those allies of the United States in the Middle East are very much afraid of anything that looks like defeat for the United States. And a withdrawal on the schedule that has been proposed by Obama and Clinton, I suppose, although they have given themselves a lot of loopholes but withdrawal on that schedule would be a defeat in fact it might a rote. And so nobody is going to do that. And how to plan at a disengagement--because we have to get out--how to plan a disengagement that doesn’t leave everyone that we have worked within the Middle East crying; how to do that is enormously difficult, and none of the candidates are talking honestly about those difficulties. Recorded on: 2/27/08