Bill Emmott, the editor of The Economist, spoke on what he said was the nation’s neo-conservative agenda for the Iraq war and said a new White House administration would not radically change the country’s involvement in the Middle East at a talk in the Luce Hall auditorium on Tuesday.
At the event, sponsored by the Yale Center for International Security Studies, Emmott lectured on how the upcoming presidential election will affect U.S. relations with the Islamic world in a talk titled “The Economist’s View: The United States and the Middle East After Nov. 2.” During his speech, Emmott gave his views on the current and future U.S. action in this region.
Emmott opened his lecture by commenting on the implications that the conditions in the Middle East have on both the region itself and the United States.
“The Middle East is a complicated place, and it requires deep study,” Emmott said. “We all have to pay attention to what is happening; it is the crucible of America’s foreign challenges.”
During his talk, Emmott focused on the war in Iraq. A new administration in the White House would not necessarily change the war’s outcome, he said. Emmott said that, regardless of the election results, the winner will have to “clean up” Iraq — a process, he said, Bush has already begun.
“America made this mess and must now clean it up,” Emmott said. “Bush has started this process by training an Iraqi security force, convincing these people to remain loyal to the new government and by convincing the population at large to do the same — Kerry’s plan is essentially the same.”
Emmott also explained the neo-conservative view of the war. According to neo-conservatives, the Bush administration wanted to invade Iraq before Bush’s term ended to improve the deteriorating view of the United States in the Middle East, Emmott said.
The threat of nuclear preemption and the democratization of the world, particularly the Muslim world, are the main motives neo-conservatives give for the war, Emmott said.
“The Economist supported the war in Iraq and we believe that it was the right thing to do,” Emmott said. “The status quo of America in the Middle East was bad before the war, the Israel-Palestinian conflict was at a halt. America could not afford to wait, and that’s why it was impatient.”
Emmott said this neo-conservative view of the war would undoubtedly be the one that either the Bush or the Kerry administration would have to follow in order to make progress in the Middle East.
Audience member Alexander Yergin ’07 said he agreed with Emmott’s take on the war.
“The basic neo-conservative agenda is the sort of ideas that this world needs,” Yergin said. “It really is the only long term solution to the war and to bring democratic reform in the Middle East.”
Kaja Wilmanska ’08 said Emmott’s conclusion that either administration would carry on the same process in Iraq surprised her.
“This paradox that the upcoming elections provide was the most interesting thing to me in his lecture, namely that if Kerry wins — he is destined to carry out the same thing that Bush would have done had he remained in office,” she said.