Has the Iraq War depleted our military and diplomatic capital?
Theodore C. Sorensen, former special counsel and adviser to President John F. Kennedy and a widely published author on the presidency and foreign affairs, practiced international law for more than 36 years as a senior partner, and now of counsel, at the prominent U.S. law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP. The former chairman of the firm’s International Practice Committee, he has represented U.S. and multinational corporations in negotiations with governments all over the world and advised and assisted a large number of foreign governments and government leaders, ranging from the late President Sadat of Egypt to former President Mandela of South Africa.
Mr. Sorensen and his team at Paul, Weiss have advised U.S. corporations on factories in Russia and Africa, pipelines in the Caribbean and Latin America, and disputes in the Middle East and North America, and negotiated on their behalf with government officials at the highest level in dozens of countries. He has advised foreign corporations from five continents on investments in the United States and elsewhere, foreign governments on problems with the World Bank, the United Nations, the U.S. government and foreign investors, and on changes in their respective mining, petroleum, investment and election codes, and constitutions.
In 2002, Mr. Sorensen was a fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Mr. Sorensen is on the advisory board of the Foreign Policy Leadership Council, a director of the Council on Foreign Relations (until 2004) and the Century Foundation, a member of the advisory board of the Partnership for a Secure America and an honorary co-chair of the ABA Commission on the Renaissance of Idealism in the Legal Profession. Mr. Sorensen is the author of the 1965 international best seller Kennedy, seven other books on the presidency, politics or foreign policy and numerous articles on those subjects in Foreign Affairs, The New York Times and other publications. As an active figure in the Democratic Party, he has participated in 10 of the last 12 Democratic Party National Conventions and served in a number of governmental, political and civic posts. Appointed by President Bill Clinton, he served on the boards of the Central Asian-American Enterprise Fund (covering Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan) and the Commission on White House Fellows. He is experienced in the ways of Washington, the United Nations and the multilateral (World Bank, IFC, etc.) and U.S. (AID, OPIC, etc.) financing institutions.
Mr. Sorensen was born in Lincoln, Nebraska in 1928. He is father of three sons, one daughter and is married to Gillian Martin Sorensen, a former New York City commissioner, a former United Nations under-secretary general and current senior advisor and national advocate at the United Nations Foundation. Mr. Sorensen's memoirs, Counselor: A Life at the Edge of History, were published by HarperCollins in May of 2008.
Question: Has the Iraq War depleted our military and diplomatic capital?
Ted Sorensen: We haven’t spent it all. We still have enormous stockpiles of strategic weapons that have never been used, and God willing will never be used. But we have stretched thin our conventional forces in a foolish, pointless, endless invasion and occupation of Iraq. We didn’t even have enough troops to secure the borders and keep the terrorists from pouring in from other countries. We didn’t even have enough troops to secure the arsenals and armories so that the terrorists just robbed all of those weapons. And they’re now being used against American troops. And what have we achieved? Saddam Hussein is gone. Yes, he was an evil man, but we don’t have democracy there. Women in . . . Iraqi women probably have fewer rights today than they had women Saddam Hussein, who was secular, was in charge than they . . . than they have now when the United States put the Shiia in power. So what have we achieved? And there are more Iraqi civilians being killed every day. They used to be killed every day by stray American bombs; but now they’re killed today by other Iraqis, and there is no end in sight. I don’t believe that with the United States having taken the lid off Pandora’s box . . . Whether we stay for 50 years as John McCain may be necessary like Korea; or stay for 50 months or weeks, there will still be bloodshed, and violence, and sectarian killings, and political wrangling going on inside Iraq. We have so messed up that country that I’m not sure even a democratic president can solve it. And it’s . . . It’s the stupidest blunder in American foreign policy history.
Recorded on: 1/30/08
We haven’t spent it all just yet, says Sorensen
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