Dr Henry Kissinger, the former US secretary of state, challenged Presient Barack Obama’s foreign policy especially on Iraq and Syria, The Sunday Times reported.
The veteran statesman has urged President Obama to “launch an all-out attack” on the terrorist group Isis in Syria and Iraq, warning that Americans have become “bystanders” in the Middle East.
In an exclusive interview with The Sunday Times, Kissinger said airstrikes should be of “limited duration as a punitive measure” and “not make any distinction between Syria and Iraq”. He said: “There can’t be any debate any more about fighting them [Isis].”
Kissinger, an influential force in US foreign policy for more than four decades, accused Obama of failing to appreciate that other countries yearned for American guidance in the Middle East and other crisis areas.
“We don’t have the power to impose our preference, but without us, and without some leadership from us, the new order cannot be created,” he said. “That I think [Obama] has not understood.” He said Obama “has not understood all the currents that need to be dealt with” in the world.
During last week’s Nato summit in Wales, Britain and America announced a 10-nation coalition to “degrade and ultimately destroy” Isis.
The criticism of Obama by Kissinger, 91, will increase pressure on the White House to order military action in Syria as well as Iraq. “In my view, this should have happened already,” Kissinger said.
Kissinger, who served first as US National Security Advisor and then Secretary of state under Nixon and his successor Gerald Ford from 1969 until 1977, has since been consulted by Democrats as well as Republicans.
Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic presidential nominee, said last week she had “relied on his counsel when I served as secretary of state”, though Obama has not sought him out.
A Republican and supporter of the Iraq war, Kissinger conceded he might have been wrong to back the 2003 invasion, though no one could have known Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction.
“Would I do it today, knowing what I know now? Probably not. But I didn’t know it then, and I couldn’t know it then. And so I would do it again, in that sense.”
He added: “We also owe President [George W.] Bush a recognition that he identified the magnitude of the terrorist problem and acted courageously in dealing with it.”