Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said Saturday that the United States has done nothing to resolve nor bring to a head the situation in Iraq.
"And that simply cannot go on indefinitely," he said. "We have marched up the hill and down the hill twice and we're still only, at best, where we should have been to begin with."Kissinger was in Salt Lake City Saturday to speak at the Nu Skin International convention. Nu Skin typically brings in a high-profile political figure, usually a Republican, to address distributors of its personal-care and nutrition products. Past convention speakers include George Bush, Colin Powell and Norman Schwarzkopf.
The 1973 Nobel Peace Prize winner touched on a variety of past and present world and national issues in his 40-minute speech - including the Vietnam War, the Asian economy and American politics.
Kissinger said the United States isn't taking the right tack with Saddam Hussein.
"The focus is on the technical ability of the inspection teams. To me this isn't the key issue," he said.
Compare where Saddam was in September with where he is now, Kissinger said.
"He is bound to think he has made tremendous progress. He has had no inspection for six months, so God knows what he's hid and where he's moved things," Kissinger said.
But the technical side isn't what's troublesome, he said. Kissinger, 74, fears smaller Persian Gulf nations like Saudi Arabia will be more and more reluctant to respond as time goes on.
"We are practically alone in protecting the gulf," he said.
Former Utah Sen. Jake Garn, a member of the Nu Skin Asia board of directors, introduced Kissinger to the crowd of about 12,500, more than half whom came from Asia. Garn was a Senate freshman when Kissinger served in the Nixon administration.
Garn, who soared on the Space Shuttle, said in his opening remarks that a ride through the wonders of space would change the hearts of the Hitlers and Stalins and Saddams of the world. If it didn't, he said, they could be jettisoned into orbit.
The German-born Kissinger didn't agree.
"I think that's an American thought," he said during his talk. "I think he'd (Saddam) come back a killer if he left a killer."
Kissinger said he learned several things from working to bring American soldiers home from Vietnam in the early 1970s, lessons that, judging from his statements about Iraq, he'd apply today.
"Wherever the United States engages itself, it must prevail. There are no rewards for losing with moderation," he said, drawing applause from the audience.
Kissinger, who watched members of the Lyndon B. Johnson administration turn against the Vietnam War after Nixon was elected, said Americans must put on a united front. When the nation tears itself apart, he said, it not only damages itself but the cause for freedom everywhere. The United States must realize the importance of its global role and have clear objectives rather than "run around the world pretending we can solve every problem and then fail to do so."
Kissinger criticized politicians for spending so much time raising money for re-election bids that they don't know what to do once they get in office.
Americans, he said, need to gain a better understanding of foreign cultures. "Most Americans believe that all foreigners are would-be Americans or Americans in training."
Some Asian countries believe the current financial crisis is an American plot to undermine their economies. Kissinger, a student of conspiracy theories, said he allayed that fear while in Bangkok, Thailand recently. "We're not that smart. We're not that organized," he said.
Kissinger visited Utah in 1988 and toured the LDS Church's Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake City.
"Whenever I come to Utah, I'm struck by what must have been in the minds of the first settlers who came here," he said. Kissinger praised Mormon pioneers for their faith and dedication to building a city in the desert.