Kissinger: Iran Is a Bigger Threat Than Islamic State

In NPR interview, former secretary of state says if U.S. enlists other countries or local groups to do the ground fighting, 'we might actually destroy' IS militants.

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Henry Kissinger on 'Face the Nation' in Washington, September 3, 2014, courtesy of  CBS News.
Henry Kissinger on 'Face the Nation' in Washington, September 3, 2014, courtesy of CBS News.Credit: Reuters
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Haaretz

Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger called Iran on Saturday a "bigger problem" than the Islamic State group, formerly known as ISIS, and said that the threat posed by the militants is "more manageable" than a confrontation with Iran.

In an interview with National Public Radio, the former top diplomat said that "ISIS is a group of adventurers with a very aggressive ideology. But they have to conquer more and more territory before they can become a strategic, permanent reality." Iran, on the hand, has the opportunity to "reconstruct the ancient Persian Empire, this time under the Shia label — in the rebuilding of the Middle East that will inevitably have to take place when the new international borders [are] drawn." That, said Kissinger, "gives Iran a very powerful level from a strategic point of view."

The strategy to defeat Islamic State, Kissinger said, should involve "superior air power, and then, if we can enlist other countries, or other more local groups to do the ground fighting, we might actually destroy them."

Asked about the tensions between Russia and Ukraine, Kissinger said that "for Russia, Ukraine is part of the Russian patrimony."

"A Russian state was created around Kiev about 1,200 years ago," he said. "Ukraine itself has been part of Russia for 500 years, and I would say most Russians consider it of Russian patrimony. The ideal solution would be to have a Ukraine like Finland or Austria that can be a bridge between these two rather than an outpost."

Kissinger also defended his role during the Vietnam War, saying that "the Obama administration has hit more targets on a broader scale than the Nixon administration ever did."

"And I bet if one did an honest account, there were fewer civilian casualties in Cambodia than there have been from American drone attacks," he added.

Finally, when asked whether Hillary Clinton would make a good president, Kissinger said: "Yes, she'd be a good president. But she'd put me under a great conflict of interest if she were a candidate, because I tend to support the Republicans."

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