Former CIA Director General David Petraeus (David Petraeus) about the extinction of the IG (banned in Russia, ed.), modern war and possible confrontation with Iran.
Die Zeit: Mr. Petraeus, until recently it seemed that Donald trump will invite You to their government. Why are we talking to You as a private individual and not as a new Minister of foreign Affairs or national security adviser?
David Petraeus: Because the President of the United States found people who, in his opinion, better cope with these responsibilities.
President trump announced that increases us defense budget by 10%, i.e. by about 54 billion dollars. It also calls for increases in military spending and NATO. Now the Western allies allocate their army of about 900 billion dollars, which is three times more than Russia and China combined. Why more money?
— Because all our research showed that in some areas, we are armed well enough. We must invest in accelerating the redeployment of troops in the future. America can’t enjoy what should only protect their own borders or nearby region. The United States is a world power and, despite the growing influence of China, is still the only military superpower. But alone we will not be able to cope with the growing threats. This means that our NATO allies must do more as well and to fulfill his promise to provide for the defense until 2024 2% of their current gross domestic product.
President trump wants to get extra money by reducing assistance to developing countries and the cost of the Ministry of foreign Affairs. Shoot instead of smooth — deadly formula?
— Diplomacy without a strong army behind them like baseball without a bat. The opposite is true: strong military power without diplomacy is not an option. It’s like baseball without the ball. Civil and military forces should be considered equally. After 15 years of involvement in the middle East I can draw the following four conclusions: first, the regions that the government can no longer control, will be occupied by extremists. Secondly, States, which are subject to the extremists, can’t stop the terror. Thirdly, in most cases in the fight against extremists, America will have to lead. Fourth, a civil action is as important as the battle against terror cannot be won only with weapons.
— Trump says he’s going to wipe ISIS off the face of the earth. Not too bold a promise?
— It is really a very high bar. There will be new radical terrorist group, and virtual Caliphate: ISIS, al-Qaeda (banned in Russia, ed) and other extremists will continue their presence in cyberspace.
— Donald trump said, America also needs to arm themselves in order to be able again to win the war. What is the next war he has in mind?
— We are not talking about the next war, and the obvious frustration due to the fact that we, for example, then in Iraq thanks to the surge eased the tension, especially in some affected regions, 85% and was able to maintain at a low level, but then had to watch as these successes later again destroyed.
— The war that never starts?
— Meanwhile, the situation in Iraq has improved and our presence insistently. Yet only 6 thousand American soldiers support far better trained and armed during this time, Iraqi units, compared to 165 thousand which before, at the peak of their number, were under my command.
— Whether it proves already resistance? The situation in Iraq is still very fragile.
More not conducted such wars, which win the hill, stick a flag on it, and then fly to the victory parade back home. In today’s wars we are talking about the long part, the war after the war. For example, in Iraq we are talking about is to allow the Sunni Arabs to participate in society and political power. In Europe our position is also stable. Only now we have reinforced our troops there another brigade, measure to repel the newly strengthened Russia.
— It happened under President Obama. His successor trump underestimates Russia?
In the government sit Ministers who see very clearly not only the Russian threat but also possible future cooperation. Even during the Cold war, we talked to each other and signed several disarmament treaties. While we maintain an extremely realistic view of Putin and his goals, we should not be afraid of a strategic dialogue with it.
— First of all, trump again and again threatening Iran. Perhaps the next war will be there?
— I don’t think anyone wants war with Iran. But coalition allies must work together to vigorously resist the malicious activities of Iranians.
So, Iran is still the biggest threat?
— Iran is one of the many great threats in the region. Al-Qaeda and ISIL will also pose a security threat. And, of course, the Syrian ruler Assad, who sowed civil war, violence, extremism, instability, which caused a wave of refugees. I want to note that Germany, in my opinion, a very impressive way approached the problem of refugees.
— As a General, You grew up with NATO and the transatlantic Alliance. President trump said that the US had used their partners, so his motto: “America first” (“America first”). Western value system is outdated?
The post — war international order based on shared norms, values, principles and institutions, on the rights to freedom, democracy and free trade, is extremely important. It is shared by not only others, but also America. Also the Marshall plan after world war II, with its billion plus through Germany and Europe stemmed not only from American generosity, but also US interests. We must never forget that the post-war order was a response to two horrific world wars and a devastating global economic crisis. As for the slogan “America first” state leaders recognize the priority of their national interests. But this should not mean the loss of partners.
So, a strong European Union in the interests of America? President trump sympathizes with Bracito.
— Quite clearly the preservation of a strong EU is in the interests of America. I don’t know all the problems of the EU, but he always coped with difficult challenges. United Europe had become powerful in the world. I don’t think Breaksit will benefit the UK, America or the EU.
Minister of defense of trump, his national security Minister and national security adviser are the generals. Not too many military in the government?
— These three know especially well that government decisions should be balanced and a holistic approach is needed.
The military thus creating a counterweight to the ideologues in the government?
In White house there are always ideologues. These three generals are very prudent and intelligent in their judgments. The Minister of defence James Mattis (James Mattis) warned that if someone is willing to spend enough money on assistance to developing countries and diplomacy, he should buy more ammunition. Also, the national security adviser Herbert McMaster (Herbert McMaster) is very moderate, a man of principle. And the Minister of security John Kelly (John Kelly) knows the tragic personal experience of what it means to fall victim to the war: his son died in battle.