Ambassador LtGen (Ret.) Ed Rowny: "The Status of U.S. as the sole Superpower will not Change until 2020"
WSN Interview from January 2007
Dieter Farwick: Sir, before we address specific issues I want two ask you two general questions: What went wrong? Is there a chance that in the second half of President Bush’s term the world can be made better and safer?
Ed Rowny: The answer to your first general question is that the Bush Administration failed to appreciate the nature and extent of the insurrectionists and terrorist threats and overestimated the ability of the Iraq government to assume control. In answer to your second general question, there is a chance that the world can be made better and safer. However, this will require a combination of good U.S. policies, strong leadership by the Iraqi government, and a favorable outcome to the many things that can go wrong.
Dieter Farwick: The most pressing issue is certainly the war in Iraq. This topic might be the decisive factor in determining the outcome of the presidential elections two years from now. There are a lot of options on the table.
What would you advise the president to do now?
Ed Rowny: My advice to Administration officials has been for the most part incorporated in President Bush's speech on January 10. I favor a surge of U.S. military effort to stabilize the situation in Iraq so as to give the Iraqi government enough time to assume responsibility for internal stability. I recommended that U.S. Army and Marine ground forces be augmented by 30 to 40 thousand troops. President Bush announced that the number would be 21,500. However, it is possible that the U.S. forces could be increased if necessary. On the other hand, if things go well, the full number of 21,500 may not be needed.
Dieter Farwick: Interrelated with the war in Iraq is the war on terrorism. The president has repeatedly emphasized that Iraq is the decisive battleground in the fight against terrorism and avoiding the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction into the hands of terrorists. There are opposing views. A recent CIA study claims that a withdrawal from Iraq would strengthen al-Qaida and worldwide terrorism. What is your view?
Ed Rowny: My view is that a withdrawal of U.S. forces before the Iraqi government can stabilize events would definitely strengthen the al-Qaida. In fact, a premature withdrawal of U.S. forces could create chaos which would destabilize the Mideast and be contrary to U.S. national interests.
Dieter Farwick: Another interwoven topic is the war in Afghanistan. It seems to me that 2007 might become the year of the military decision about victory and defeat. The NATO summit in Riga in November 2006 did not show the political resolve of the 26 NATO members to win the battle as a prerequisite for the civilian reconstitution of Afghanistan. In addition, neither the UN nor the EU show a similar resolve for the civilian side.
What should be done to defeat the Taliban militarily?
Ed Rowny: The United States must convince the major members of the European Union that their security would be threatened if the Taliban is not defeated militarily. If events go well in Iraq but go poorly in Afghanistan, it may be advisable for the U.S. to deploy some of its forces in Iraq to strengthen forces in Afghanistan.
Dieter Farwick: For many observers of the Broader Middle East, the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians is the main source of all conflicts in the region. What could America do more and better to contribute to a “hudna” and a two-state solution? Is the pro-Israel lobby in the US too strong and thus blocks any moderate way ahead? Could and should America force Israel to make concessions?
Ed Rowny: The solution to the Palestine-Israeli conflict is a major element to stability in the Mideast. The United States should continue to seek a two-nation solution along currently proposed lines. In my view the Israeli lobby in the United States is not so strong as to prevent the exercise of proper U.S. policy. In my view this may not require further concessions on the part of Israel.
Dieter Farwick: Iran’s president misuses Israel for his imperialistic objectives to become the dominant regional power – based upon nuclear weapons. So far, the agreed UNSR sanctions are too soft to stop Iran’s strife for nuclear weapons.
Is Iran’s path to becoming a military nuclear power irreversible? Do we have to live with the Iranian nuclear bomb? What should be done?
Ed Rowny: The economic sanctions against Iran have so far proved inadequate to get the President of Iran to cease his determination to acquire nuclear weapons. However, there is increasing evidence that Iran is beginning to suffer economically. Under these circumstances, convincing China and Russia to join in stronger sanctions may convince the Supreme Leader in Iran to draw out or abandon Iran's development of nuclear weapons.
Dieter Farwick: The six-states talks on North Korea did not prevent North Korea from conducting a nuclear test in October 2006. A nuclear weapon in the hands of the North Korean government would have far-reaching repercussions beyond the Korean peninsula. A nuclear arms race or heavy investments in anti-ballistic missile systems might be provoked.
Time is obviously running against the US, Japan and South Korea. What are the remaining options?
Ed Rowny: There are few remaining options for putting pressure on North Korea to abandon its development of nuclear weapons. The continuation of anti-ballistic missile deployments by the U.S., Japan, and South Korea are necessary. Beyond this, the five major players must put increased diplomatic pressure on North Korea. China is the most important nation which can cause North Korea to change its policy.
Dieter Farwick: The status of the United States as the lone superpower seems to be coming to an end. China and India will form a new tri-polar world with the US if they succeed in overcoming their domestic problems. Energy security will become a hot issue between the three top energy-dependent world powers.
What are the chances and risks for the US for the way ahead beyond the presidential elections in 2008?
Ed Rowny: The status of U.S. as the sole superpower will not change until 2020. Therefore, the chances and risks for the United States between 2008 and 2020 are not critical. Meanwhile, there is time for the United States to form a working relationship with China and India. This will not be easy. However, the growth of wealth in China and India and the furtherance of democracy in the latter gives rise to optimism that the replacement of U.S. as the lone superpower by a three-way sharing of power can provide worldwide peace and stability.