The criticisms of Kissinger, Scowcroft and Brzezinski are not directed in any principled way against a war with Iraq, but rather against starting such a war without making sufficient preparations. Because this war will have such profound political and military consequences, they are demanding better planning and the preparation of the American people for the likelihood of high casualty rates. They fear that American soldiers could be drawn into street fighting involving heavy losses, and that the raging social, ethnic and religious conflicts in the region could lead to an escalation of the war with unforeseen consequences.
The Times highlighted some of the caveats in the Kissinger argument, such as that "military intervention should be attempted only if we are willing to sustain such an effort for however long it is needed." The paper did note that Kissinger was "far from ruling out military intervention.
The establishment fights most bitterly and dishonestly when it feels cornered and thinks it's about to lose. Churchill was attacked more viciously in 1938 and 1939 than earlier in the decade. So now the New York Times shamelessly mischaracterizes Henry Kissinger's endorsement of the president's policy as breaking ranks--when in fact it represents an acknowledgment by the most intellectually honest of the "realists" that realism, post 9/11, requires rethinking concepts like deterrence and preemption. And now Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska wanders into Pat Buchanan-land with his comment that "maybe [Richard] Perle would like to be in the first wave of those who go into Baghdad." And now Brent Scowcroft (writing in the Wall Street Journal) thinks that a persuasive casus belli would be "compelling evidence that Saddam had acquired nuclear weapons capability." But as Henry Kissinger said in a television interview last week, "if there is no action now, that means that we are saying, we will wait until these weapons are used and react to an actual provocation.