Monday, November 03, 2008

SECDEF's clarity of thought.

An absolute must read in, of all places, Newsweek. SECDEF Gates proves that he has one of the most clear headed views about the world as it is as about anyone in public life. Here is the pull quote - OK, paragraph(s);

One hears about " the militarization of American foreign policy. " Is there truth to that?
The problem is, the nonmilitary institutions—especially the Agency for International Development—have been gutted over the past 15 years. When I left government, AID had about 15,000 employees, and it was an expeditionary agency. People that worked for AID expected to be deployed into developing countries, and they had all the requisite skills to do reconstruction and help with governance and building rule of law and agriculture and all the rest. AID today has less than 3,000 people. It's essentially a contracting agency that outsources the entire thing … As for the State Department: we have more people in military bands than we have Foreign Service officers. So the civilian institutions that, during the cold war, had the lead in carrying out those foreign-policy functions need to be re-created and dramatically strengthened. Until they are, the military will probably end up carrying most of the burden.

Is the machinery of government set up to cope with the challenges we face?
No, I think it all needs to be changed. We need to rethink the 1947 National Security Act, which laid out our present national-security structure. The national-security institutions that we have today were essentially created to fight the cold war, and they reflect lessons we learned in World War II. So the Defense Department, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the CIA and the National Security Council all came out of the National Security Act of 1947. It seems to me that there needs to be a new National Security Act that looks at the kind of complicated world I've described and says: how would we write a new National Security Act to update the institutions and the framework?

But the problem is more than structure. We need to think about how to do these things in a completely new way. I don't think making AID bigger once more is the solution, any more than I think re-creating the old United States Information Agency is the answer to our strategic communications problems. To rethink USIA, we need to bring in some 23-year-olds—maybe the guys from Google, and those putting out news over the Internet—and ask them: If you want to reach the rest of the world with a message, as actually we do, how would you do it? How would you structure it? And is there a way to partner what happens in the private sector with the public sector? That needs to be our approach to development and all these things we are trying to do on the "soft" side, the civilian side of U.S. security policy

… Look, Texas A&M [where Gates was president before returning to government] has had teams in Tikrit [in Iraq] and in Afghanistan for the last five years. They are all from the agricultural and the veterinary side. And these guys go into the scariest parts of those countries, and they don't care: that's what they do. We've done that sort of work with farmers in America since the 1860s. Now they're doing it internationally—and going into amazing places. And A&M is not alone in this.

An ambitious agenda.
Yes, and one of the many obstacles to reform is that, at the top of government, the urgent always tends to crowd out the important. And that tension has gotten worse now, I think, because of the complexity of the world we face. I recall Henry Kissinger in 1970. There had been the Syrian invasion of Jordan. I think something was going on in Lebanon. And we had discovered the Soviets were building a submarine base in Cuba. I always thought Kissinger managing two or three crises at the same time was an act of legerdemain. I tell you: that was amateur night compared to the world today.

On another front - looks like SECDEF gates camel had its back broken by one too many "Brussels Shuffle" straws. Calling it like it is, and taking back the keys....
Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Friday he did not expect America's NATO allies to provide many more troops for the war in Afghanistan.

Gates said the United States would try to send three more brigades -- likely more than 10,000 troops once support forces are included -- to Afghanistan next year, on top of existing commitments.

But he said the longer-term solution was to hand the fight to Afghan forces and it would be a "terrible mistake" if the conflict in Afghanistan was seen as America's war.

"My personal view is that we are not likely to get significantly larger numbers of troops from our allies and partners," he said.
Like I and others have said, NATO culminated in Afghanistan in DEC 07 - now SECDEF has decided it was time to make it public. The "John Kerry COA" just doesn't work. Those in love with the "1,000 Ship Navy" AKA "Cooperative Maritime Partnership" should take note.

Gates will be known as one of the giants - just as Cohen is known as one of the midgets and
Aspin is known as an ant.

No comments: