Amb. Ryan Crocker writes about Iraq, Afghanistan

September 6, 2007 – Ramadi, Anbar Province, Iraq
Ambassador Crocker (center) introduces Senators Joseph Biden (right)
and Blanch Lincoln (left) to Iraq Vice President Abdul-Mahdi (far right)
shortly before the economic governance forum.

In the September 14 issue of Newsweek, published online on September 5, Ambassador Ryan Crocker writes “Eight Years On: A diplomat’s perspective on the post-9/11 world.” The online piece also includes a 4:00 min video clip of the ambassador. I remember thinking as I read through the piece that there is a book or two here, for sure.

He talks about 9/11 and how the war on terror did not really start for us on 9/11, but 18 years earlier. On the Middle East he writes:

“The Middle East is a region that knows it cannot keep determined superpowers out. For hundreds of years, whether the French or British, the Russians or the Americans, they’ve muscled their way in. But while countries in the region don’t have that hard left cross at their disposal to block outsiders, they’ve got a wicked counterpunch. Once you’re in, then they go to work.”

About that “Perfect Storm Memo:”

“Along with many others at the State Department, I supported the interagency studies of the Future of Iraq Project. I thought I’d learned some lessons in Kabul that might be relevant. Toward the end of the year, the Office of Iraqi Affairs, which I supervised, made an effort simply to lay out for policymakers some of the things that might happen if we intervened militarily in Iraq. Sometimes called “The Perfect Storm Memo,” it’s still a classified document, so I’m not in a position to go through its content in any detail. But in any case it had no operational traction.”

He describes re-opening our US Embassy in Kabul

“The embassy—almost miraculously—was more or less intact. Some rockets had hit it. A lot of windows had been blown out. A small fire had done some damage, but that was all. For a dozen years the building had been empty, yet our Afghan local staff had never left their jobs. The gardeners continued to garden; the mechanics and the drivers maintained the vehicles; and the staff kept up a continuous presence that prevented the Taliban and others from entering the compound. Several were arrested for being “stooges of the Americans.” They could have been killed. But they soldiered on for those dozen years. I think I can say they were deeply happy to see us return.”

He also talks about Iran, Pakistan, and of course, Iraq. With this piece, Ambassador Crocker writes a public reminder … that “success only comes from a solid, sustained commitment of resources and attention.” It is also a warning as public support for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan appears to be waning:

“The perceived arrogance and ignorance of overbearing powers can create new narratives of humiliation that will feed calls for vengeance centuries from now. What’s needed in dealing with this world is a combination of understanding, persistence, and strategic patience to a degree that Americans, traditionally, have found hard to muster.”

Read the whole thing here. I think this is his first publication since retiring from the Foreign Service; and I’m almost sure, this won’t be his last.