09 November 2006

The Gates review from a 2005 gabfest: SecDef Material?

Now some interesting things from a transcript of Mr. Robert M. Gates, proposed SecDef, at a 2005 Leon Panetta Institute talkfest with Leon Panetta and Sandy Berger (done in front of a live studio audience... as they say in Hollywood). And the responses are interesting to see where Mr. Gates strengths ARE and ARE NOT.

As the Head of the CIA and having seen much of the INTEL community, he can speak well to it and some of the sources of its problems and talking about the ascendancy of John Negroponte to the DNI post (highlighting throughout my own):

Robert Gates: First of all, I think it's important to recognize the fact that the United States has not had another terrorist attack -- successful terrorist attack in more than 3 1/2 years.

The discovery of the AQ Khan network selling nuclear materials and designs around the world, and the exposure of the Libyan nuclear program so they had to give it up, all of those things tell me that the C.I.A. and the F.B.I. are not dysfunctional as some of the commentators have described.

Several points.

First of all, one of my favorite sayings is that, "experience is the ability to recognize a mistake when you make it again."


After every war in the 20th century the United States has dismantled its intelligence and military capabilities, and to a certain extent the end of the Cold War was no exception.

I retired in 1993, early 1993. Within three years [of my retirement] the C.I.A. had 25% fewer people and the clandestine service, the spy part of the agency, had 30% fewer people.

This happened with the military and various others. The National Security Agency and the Signals and Communications Intelligence suffered even more than the C.I.A. did.

So these agencies were being asked to do more and more with less and less and held accountable for it. But I, too, would draw a distinction between 9/11 and the issue of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

And 9/11 requires a little historical background. The C.I.A. was created in 1947 not to fight the Cold War, but to prevent another Pearl Harbor because as we had gone through the research, it became clear during and after the war that if all the different foreign intelligence agencies in the United States had been reporting to the same place and all the bits and pieces suggesting a possible Japanese attack had been pulled together, there was a warning that could have allowed the United States to react and perhaps prevent Pearl Harbor.

What happened on 9/11 was the same kind of thing that happened in Pearl Harbor in the sense that the United States suffered an attack that we had not anticipated and were not structured to deal with.

When the C.I.A. was created in 1947. President Truman desperately wanted to keep the domestic intelligence and law enforcement separate from foreign intelligence. He didn't want the C.I.A. to become another K.G.B. or Gestapo. And so there were very strong legal or statutory and regulatory provisions put in place to prevent the C.I.A. from becoming involved in domestic U.S. affairs.

And over the years those provisions were strengthen right up through the 1990s.

But September 11th showed us we faced a new kind of threat where the distinction between domestic and foreign no longer applied and we had to create new structures that allowed sharing of information.

So I think September 11th, while there were clearly problems within agencies and the lack of communication that should have taken place, despite all of these restrictions that I described, the fact is I think [the main problem] was institutional and structural.

The problem with the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq is that it was just plain lousy intelligence. It was sloppy intelligence work. People did not question their assumptions.

I think that having been surprised in 1991 by how much further advanced Saddam was toward a nuclear weapon than we expected, or believed at the time, led the analysts not to question their assumptions about how far along he might be or how much there might be in the way of weapons of mass destruction.

They weren't honest with the policymakers, with the President and others about how old the information was or about the quality of the sources, as Sandy suggested.

And so the President was led to believe that there was a consensus that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq by U.S. intelligence.

Furthermore, the passage of U.N. Resolution 1441, which basically said we think weapons of mass destruction are there, let's give him more time trying to find them, reinforced the notion that everybody in the world thought they were there, including the French, for heavens sake.


So I think that there was this, as I said earlier, this group think about what had happened and no questioning and no honesty with the President about the deficiencies in the information or its age.

So I would say that I think that there are some systemic problems. Those are what John Negroponte is going to have to address in terms of integrating these domestic and foreign capabilities, and also figuring out a way to be more forthright with the President about what the information does and does not show and what the uncertainties are.

Decision makers don't like to hear about uncertainties because it complicates the decision-making process, but that's what the honest intelligence officer will do for him.
Not to dispute Mr. Gates, but the AQ Khan network and the Libyan 'coming into the fold' only happened AFTER Iraq and the unraveling of the AQ Khan network and Libya saw the handwriting on the wall. NEITHER was due to the CIA or FBI and BOTH are totally linked to the invasion of Iraq. Perhaps he has 'insider information' but that is the way it looks from here. And if both the CIA and FBI were NOT dysfunctional we would have known about these things WAY before Iraq and been able to pressure Libya, somehow, to come clean. If we were lucky. I mean, Saddam 'came clean', right?

Oh, he didn't.

And if the Agencies were NOT dysfunctional, then why, as he admits later, did they FAIL to detect 9/11 and Transnational Terrorism. You cannot play this both ways and claim them to be working well and then not working well at the same time.

Then he goes on to address the WMD issue, saying that assumptions were made because of the judgment of Saddam and his Government. This is true. And absolutely CORRECT assumptions as the Foreign Ministry Archive has shown to be the case and the recent information of Iraqi nuclear weapons scientists working in Syria. So perhaps Mr. Gates will have to review his conception of what was and was not working at the CIA to further address just what it is or is not doing, because he clearly sees it as functioning well and not well both AT THE SAME TIME.

Such 'nuance'!

A bit further on, after some chatter on the Bolton situation *then* we get Mr. Gates' view of what is and is not feasible in doing in Afghanistan to 'get al Qaeda':
Robert Gates : Finding a guy operating on his own turf is a hell of a lot harder than the armchair generals and talking heads would have you believe.

We went through this trying to find the hostages in Beirut in the mid-1980's. I can't tell you how many resources we dedicated to that search. Our own station chief in Beirut was kidnapped, tortured and killed in the effort to try and find these hostages. We couldn't find Noriega in Panama until he turned himself in during the early years of the Bush Administration, and we probably know more about Panama than any other country on earth other than our own.

The problem is in almost all these cases, if you want to find somebody, you have to find somebody on the inside who will tell you where they're going to be, not where they were, or not where they are. You have to find where they will be. That's how we caught Saddam.

That's how we'll end up, if it happens that way, if it happens at all, that's when we'll find Osama, when somebody in his organization, for $25 million, tells us. Then we’ll find him. I wanted to find him hooked up to an American made dialysis machine. That wasn't to be. At least I don't think so.
So, interesting, if not insightful. And note with the fully functioning CIA under his purview he does admit to its lack of ability to *find* a single individual in Beirut one of which was the CIA station chief! Now that is going to be a painful barb in the ass for those looking at the awesomeness of the CIA's ability to do damn near everything.

But I do like his point on the $25 million. Tell you what, put an extra zero on the end for US only folks who can get him and start handing out warrants. Can't get enough takers? Put another zero on the end. You will, finally, find US Citizens willing to get off their butts to go after these guys if the price is right. But that, apparently, might be a bit too much to ask of this individual.

Now, on to some historical context for what was going on in Iraq last year and still continues to go on with slow advances that no one wants to report on:
Robert Gates: I think an Iraqi government secure enough to invite us to leave we can count as a victory. My concern is that we have so little patience. We're so accustomed to watching television and we get irritated if it's a two-part series.


And we haven't wrapped it up by 9:00. Yesterday marked the end of World War II, sixty years ago. There are still American troops in Germany. We've had troops in Korea for over 50 years. The British have had troops in Cyprus for 40 years. I hope we're not in Iraq for those lengths of times, but if you want to change history, you have to be prepared to stay as long as it takes to do the job.


We all hope that it will be quick. That in a year or two the -- this government in Iraq will be secure enough that they will be able to invite us to leave and we can do so, leaving behind us a government that can survive and that will be very different from what preceded it.

Iraq is one of the oldest countries in the world, that in its thousands of years of history never known democracy.

We're irritated because the Russians haven't figured out democracy in 15 years. There are still all these problems going on in Russia, a country that in its thousand years of history has never known democracy.

We're still working on it after 300 years.

So I guess part of my concern is that there are too many in Americans in public life and in the media who want to know when it's over, who want to have a deadline for when we'll be out of there so we can write finish to this whole thing.

Well, for better or for worse, we have cast our lot and we need to stay there as long as necessary to get the job done. And it's been a long time in a lot of places. We hope it won't be nearly that long in Iraq. But I think it would be a disservice to the young men and women who have given their lives and been casualties in Iraq to leave prematurely and have everything go back to being the way it was.
Oh, my! REAL historical context!

His view on victory in Iraq is that of an Iraqi Government strong enough to ask us to leave because we are not NEEDED there anymore! Do NOT let the leftist moonbats and rightist wingnuts at THAT quote. And the context of that is: we STILL, to this day, have troops in Germany, South Korea and even a few stragglers in Japan. Just think, since 1945 Japan just MIGHT be ready to stand on its own without ANY US PRESENCE THERE! What was that I heard about a 'long war'?

And while we hope for a quick ability to get such a government, we also realize that Iraq has NEVER even had a WHISPER of democracy. EVER. And yet 12 million people happily voted and just like voting the first time they had NO IDEA OF WHAT IT MEANT!

So those of you wanting a 'timetable' or 'phased withdrawal': Can we start with Germany, please? We have been doing that in South Korea and *now* they are starting to get the collywobbles because of the North's nuclear weapons. Japan is ALMOST ready to stand on its own as a non-Imperial nation! THAT is a HUGE success considering where it started in 1945. And poor Russia is having problems after only 15 years of REAL democracy and THEY are flubbing it and having to DIY.

Now we get to military force structure and National Needs:
Robert Gates: Our strategy in the late 1980s and early 1990s was that the U.S. military should have the capability to fight two regional conflicts simultaneously. For example, Iraq and Korea. When we were engaged in the first Gulf War, it was perfectly obvious to everybody that we had no more capacity to fight a second front in Korea while we had a half million troops in Iraq or in the Middle East. It just wasn't going to happen. We didn't have the capabilities then and we have fewer capabilities today.

This goes back to my point earlier about deciding the world has become safe after a war and then beginning to dismantle our capabilities. And I would tell you that was very bipartisan. There wasn't anybody standing up in Congress saying, "Oh my god, don't go this way," at least not anybody that I remember.

Now, I think that part of the problem we have is that we have structured our military in a way that aggravates this situation. As Sandy said, most of those in the National Guard today joined thinking they were going to spend a couple weeks a summer in camp and weekends and maybe the occasional deployment for a flood or for some international disaster or short-term deployment. Most of those that were called up in 1990 to go to Iraq were gone a few months. And now you have these folks serving a year or two.

Well, it's not a surprise that people interested in joining the National Guard, that there are fewer of those people today than there were two or three years ago. And so I think it's not only a question of whether we need a larger army, it's whether we need to think about how we structure that army again and maybe go back to a larger volunteer army.

I think there is no stomach for a draft. And I'm not entirely sure we need one. We may need to take a look again, as we did fifteen or twenty years ago during the Reagan Administration, of what we pay our military in terms of making sure that -- that they're well compensated for the sacrifices they make. And we need to look at whether this involvement of the National Guard in particular is something that needs to be revisited if we're going to have the necessary capacity.

The truth of the matter is, I think that Iran and North Korea today probably feel somewhat safer than they did two years ago. Because the notion that the United States could fight a full scale war in Korea right now is just silly.

We couldn't. We don't have the air power. We don't have the intelligence. We don't have anything that's big enough to do that with what we have now.

So I agree that I think we need to increase our capacity, but I think we also need to change -- and go back in terms of the way that capacity is structured.
That is a pretty grim assessment of US capability and force structure. But then he *is* thinking about fighting LIKE the 1980's or 1990's and not like this century permits. That said the scaling back of force structure under the Clinton Administration was NOT stopped by the Republican Congress that looked to get some *goodies* via that reduced spending. What that did was require a change in DOCTRINE that did NOT happen until the current Administration came to office.

No matter how well versed in INTEL he is, no matter who in the State Department's past persona platoon talks with him, he will get briefings from the JCS, General Staff and the Commands that will put him in the hot seat of understanding. The United States does, indeed, need to change the force structure for active forces and that can be requested by the President but only PASSED by Congress. The Congress of 1974 laid out the current force structure as an *isolationist* one that would prevent it from taking part in 'long drawn-out' wars. They did not want to face a 'long-drawn out' ENEMY.

The US Armed Forces are just beginning to step into the full 21st century capability, with a force structure set for the post-Vietnam era. The threats that are militarily faced by the US are both more diverse and more dispersed than EVER during the Cold War and that does NOT include non-Nation State terrorist organizations. So in agreement that the shift to a larger active force structure is necessary and the National Guard relegated to... Guarding the Nation, maybe? Just a thought.

Next up is force use and foreign policy, always dangerous places for individuals, but Mr. Gates was the head of the CIA so should recognize a few of the obvious pits:
Robert Gates : I think the United States has always had to preserve for itself the ability and right to act unilaterally and act preemptively. I also believe that those should be last resorts and not first choices.

I think that on the question that you asked, Leon, you know, if we do it why shouldn't everybody else? I have a very narrow view of that. The United States of America was the only great power in the entire 20th century throughout all those wars that did not attempt or gain one square mile of additional territory.

As Colin Powell put it, the only land we took was enough to bury our soldiers. I think we are different. And I don't think that it can be shown that we have launched an aggressive war. We have not launched a war to take over somebody else, to destroy somebody else's democracy.

I think that in this case I believe, and I argued at the White House, that the United States can act sometimes in ways that other powers can't or shouldn't. And I'm prepared to live with that.
Mr. Gates *does* have a firm understanding that the US is NOT an Empire, so the moonbats can be bashed on that account.

That said, I fully disagree that force is the LAST resort and agree that it should never be the FIRST resort unless ATTACKED FIRST. Like what happened on 9/11.

And as to the 'if we do it why can't everyone else?' that Mr. Panetta asked, let me say that I support that FULLY! That is what it MEANS to have a NATION.

In the end, I think Mr. Gates has a good understanding of what Nation States can do, what they need to do and what they should do. So, in this, he is outperforming the entire leftist side of the political arena and running circles around them. Now he just needs to show that he MEANS IT.

Now, onto the lovely wonderland of Mr. Kim and North Korea:
Robert Gates: I think from a strategic standpoint whether North Korea blows up a nuclear weapon is immaterial. We know they have some bombs. That's what is really important. If they should have a test, then we should use it diplomatically in terms of going to the Chinese and the South Koreans, and I would add the Japanese, who are a source of North Korea's hard currency. And say, "This is the guy you guys refused to deal with. He is a lot further from us than he is from you. And if you think he's completely rational and you're comfortable with him having nuclear weapons and screwing them onto the top of ballistics missiles, hey, you guys are a lot more vulnerable than we are."

But I think that we do have to have a strategy that says, all right, we'll sit down and talk with you guys, but we need to first extract from the Chinese and the South Koreans and the Japanese, that if we sit down and talk with the North and we're willing to offer some carrots as well as some sticks in terms of what we might do if North Korea was willing to abandon its nuclear program, we also have to have it agreed in advance what they're prepared to do if and when that effort fails.

I personally believe it will fail.

But we need to get those guys committed beforehand in terms of what they're prepared to do if such a diplomatic strategy fails in terms of sanctions on the North Koreans.

The Chinese know how weird the North is. The Chinese provide a lot of the food that the North Koreans eat. There was a time when the North Koreans were stealing the railroad gondolas that the Chinese were sending the food in. They know these guys better than we do.

I think we need to have it clearly set forth and extend it to Iran as well. If we're going to pursue a diplomatic strategy and try to gain allies and use carrots as well as sticks we need to have it agreed to in advance that if that effort fails, what are they prepared to do? We should not give it away. We should extract some price for our willingness to alter our policy.
Now this is a pretty simplistic conception of the world in regards to the Hermit Kingdom. Such wonderful 'carrot and stick'ism! How about we tell China that it is THEIR problem for having saved the wretched place and they can deal with it or we will supply nuclear and aegis and first gen stealth capability to Japan, South Korea and Taiwan? China wants to make it OUR problem because they do not want to own up to THEIR mistakes. Multilateral talks like Mr. Gates sees will not only fail, as he admits, but BUY into the Chinese game of blame-placing. I have had a stomach full of that, thank you very much.

If China is so happy with ONE nuclear neighbor, then let us give them an entire neighborhood of it. Because I trust Our three Allies there far more than China or North Korea.

Onto illegal immigration! This should be interesting, to say the least:
Robert Gates: Twenty years ago we invited the sheriff of San Diego County to visit us at the C.I.A. I'll never forget him telling us at lunch that 600,000 illegal immigrants cross the border of San Diego County ever year. But the figure that really blew us away, this is 20 years ago remember, was that they represented 70 different nationalities.

So the security aspect of this is, I think preeminent and I don't know enough about the President's proposals to speak intelligently about them. We need to figure out a way to somehow differentiate those who are coming here from Mexico to make some money that they can send home, from those who are a terrorist threat. And I don't know whether the solution is legitimization and allowing people to come back and forth across the border if they are documented and we know who they are and we know what they're doing or not. As I said, I don't know enough about the proposal.

But somehow we have to recognize that we have a serious security problem on that border and I would say more so than with Canada, although Canada is also a problem, but significantly more so with Mexico. We must figure out a way to deal with the national security implications which is, I think, a part of the problem that has not really been seriously addressed.
Stunned, shocked and surprised and even gob-smacked I would guess. And that was 20 YEARS AGO when Congress PROMISED to clean this up! And this needed addressing 20 YEARS AGO.

Let me suggest that if Mr. Gates would care to think about what it MEANS to be a NATION, then STOPPING this should be the SOLUTION as they are breaking LAWS to get here. Jobs are NOT legitimacy, they are an *excuse* to do NOTHING. And because the Transnational Terrorists already HAVE forgers available and can easily interconnect with standard international crime syndicates, there is no reason to expect that anything bureaucratic using 'documents' will WORK.

Now onto democracy and the expansion and support thereof:

Robert Gates : I think there are two aspects to it. The first is we should not assume that because people have never known democracy that the fire of freedom doesn't burn. One of the things that amazed us in watching the Soviet Union in the 1980s, and particularly from about 1987 on, was repeatedly in national elections the soviet people would vote more sacrifice on themselves because of what they believed would be a better future in terms of weakening the Communist Party and its authorities throughout the country, watching them vote, watching Yeltsin at the Russian White House during the time of the coup, anybody who did not believe that democracy had a future in Russia wasn't paying attention.

And there was a similar feeling watching the people vote in Iraq in a country, as I said earlier, that in thousands of years of history had never known democracy, and watching them willing to risk their lives for it.

There is a great editorial cartoon that was circulated. On the one side it shows the Iraqis lining up to vote under threat of death and with people with machine guns standing all around, and the other side it showed an American coming out on his porch, saying, "looks like rain, I don't think I'll vote today."

In Poland, where the only democracy Poland has known since the Middle Ages was a brief period between the wars, and in country after country we see that there is some spark there that a thousand years of tyranny cannot extinguish.

We have to support that spark. We have to continue to say, this is the right way to go and we support you moving in that direction.

That said, I think how you deliver that message to different countries depends on different circumstances, and you also have to take into account our own national security interests. One of the things I told the students this afternoon, and one of the problems with President Carter's human rights campaign, was that the only people we could punish were our friends.

The big violators of human rights like the Soviet Union and China and some of the others we couldn't touch. So there was a paradox where only our friends suffered sanctions because they weren't behaving well enough on human rights.

We need to be smart about how we pursue this. But nobody in the world should have any question in their minds where the United States stands, and that is on the side of democracy and freedom.

How each country pursues it, we have to decide in a realistic manner.
Luckily Mr. Gates has previously demonstrated some comprehension that democracy actually takes a bit of work. More than a bit, really, it takes continual commitment by a Free People to remain Free. He does get Poland wrong as they had one of the very first parliamentary democracies representing sections of the Nation and tried hard to push that to work, but had no idea how to do so. In the 10th century, saddled with Nobles and foreign meddling it ended up causing tons of problems. They regained freedom and sent the very first Light Cavalry unit the Revolution would HAVE in America. They have stood by this Nation longer than any other Nation on the Planet. And we have abandoned them far too often to DESERVE that friendship.

He is right that we could only punish our Allies and the Left gleefully went at THAT to no good for the United States. We left Friends and Allies to hang in the Communist winds so that their flags could go blood red with the loss of any HOPE of democracy and liberty and freedom for the individual. This idea of failing to reach the maximum of absolute freedom and being scolded for the final few percent while those not even attempting to do ANYTHING get ignored while their people suffer under tyranny is daft. We cannot impose Western democracy but we can help others to find their own pathway to the freedom of individuals so that it is expressed in a Constructive manner. I think that Mr. Gates has a *clue* on that score.

He then goes into describing how 'temper' and 'pushing subordinates' is the way of LIFE in the Federal Government, especially on the Military and INTEL side. That is the truth of things and the world had best get used to that as LIVES are at stake. I wish that he would address the bureaucratic Kingdoms that get set up to RESIST change and RESIST adapting to the changing world. But, as a long-timer, he probably doesn't think that worth mentioning.

Robert M. Gates on the UN:
Robert Gates: As I indicated, I think the U.N. played a constructive role in the first Gulf War. And I think I would say that the first President Bush and Jim Baker very effectively mobilized the U.N. in support of U.S. objectives.

Whether we like it or not, the U.N. is going to be around, and I think it does have the potential to be effective, and in some areas it is effective: the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization. There are a number of different parts of the U.N. that actually are pretty effective.

I think what offends Americans is when you see things like the Oil For Food scandal where it's clear Saddam was raking off billions and a lot of other people were raking off at least millions. I think it offends Americans when we see Zimbabwe and Libya sitting on the U.N. Human Rights Commission.

There are some disconnects in the way the U.N. does business that I think we need to look at and make some changes. But I think it is going to be there, and that's why I think, in a way, I’m going back to the previous question, that having Bolton at the U.N. is not unlike having Wolfowitz at the World Bank. These are key players in the Bush Administration. The President, I think, would not assign these central players in the Administration to these institutions if the President did not want to see these institutions play a role and did not believe that these institutions had a part to play going forward. They are too valuable a commodity if you just want to ignore the U.N. or ignore the World Bank, in terms of the Administration and the key players in that Administration, these guys are very well connected.

So I think that there has to be reform, but we're going to be dealing with the U.N. for a long time.
Remember for all the scandals about child prostitution, white slavery, UN 'Blue Helmet Babies', Oil For Food, supporting the Palestinians in making maps and books that erase Israel that the UN will be around for a LONG TIME and does 'good things'. Tell you what, they can do it WITHOUT our money! The rest of the World should be GLAD to up their support to make up the shortfall while the US rests on its laurels. We have EARNED THAT.

I doubt the UN would last two years without US support.

As for the 'good things' it does, there are other ways to do those things WITHOUT having the might bureaucracy of the UN eat up the lions share of the money to funnel it to their 'preferred providers'. As an example the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center is a dispersed affiliation of government organizations, academia and some private concerns all monitoring the Pacific basin for earthquakes and tsunamis. It is interconnected and reliant upon NO single organization. It helps to SAVE LIVES without that overhead. The Indian Ocean basin governments and academia are looking to stand up THE EXACT SAME CONCEPT and hook it into the Pacific Organization. That WORKS without a Government mandate. Similarly the WHO can be replaced by such an international amalgam of Government, Academia and Private Industry all working to solve common problems in the spread of infectious diseases.

In point of fact I see NO useful function for the UN at all.

Now, onto the threat of Transnational Terrorism and the US:
Robert Gates: Well, the United States is so vast and so vulnerable in so many ways. And, first of all, there is no such thing as perfect security no matter how much money we have spent.

I, too, am puzzled by the fact that there haven't been suicide bombers. That's not an invitation, just an observation. And we should count ourselves very fortunate.

And I would say, as I said at the very beginning of this session, I think that we should look at what has happened or not happened over the past two and a half -- three and a half years --and say maybe the intelligence community and the F.B.I. aren't as dysfunctional as people say they are.

I think one of the things we've done is introduce, through the measures as limited as they have been, have introduced a degree of randomness into the calculations of terrorists that makes it more complicated for them to plan operations.

They can't be sure that they can get through an airport. They can't be sure that they can get through a port. They can't be sure that a customs inspector in Port Angeles, Washington, wouldn't notice somebody sweating profusely on a December day and end up discovering the guy who is headed for the L.A. International Airport.

So there is an alertness that we have that I think introduces that element. One of the things that I think the new Secretary of Homeland Security has done that makes a lot of sense is to accept the fact that we cannot prevent any terrorist act from ever taking place in the United States anymore than we can prevent all crime, so he has decided to focus the attentions of the department on the most significant threats so it would include going forward with the chlorine plants and the railroad tank cars and the refineries and things like that. And I think that makes a lot of sense in terms of protecting the largest number of people against the most obvious kinds of threats.
He does point out that one of the salient things to stop terrorism is to see something out of the ordinary and *report it*. That, strangely, works in the US because of the type of society that we made here. Because this *is* a society held in common, and not just a bunch of groups that somehow managed to end up in the same country, there is a feeling that the People OWN the Nation. Because they DO. That said terrorism cannot be prevented and it does have multiple causation points and one enemy uses multi-year staging and planning to pull off nasty events so safety for this long is now hitting the natural turnaround point for their standard opsplan. Comfort today is no assurance of comfort tomorrow.

Plus, they are sending a lot of terrorists to die, disproportionately, in Iraq and Afghanistan. Further they are running out of trained individuals from the late 1990's and are slowly getting less well trained individuals to take their place. The reason that they hated but kept Zarqawi in Iraq is that they had NO ONE better to take his place.

Next up WMD's and such fun things:
Robert Gates: Well, I think there are two concerns that we have, at least on the nuclear front. One is the collapse of the Soviet Union really significantly complicated the proliferation problem. We've probably today got somewhere in the neighborhood of 400 metric tons of plutonium and highly enriched uranium stored at 100 different places in Russia, and places like warehouses without as good security as most warehouses have. And often they are secured by very young Soviet or Russian soldiers who aren't being paid very much. We know for a fact that nuclear materials have migrated out of Russia. We know that nuclear expertise has migrated out of Russia. We don't know whether any weapons have left Russia at this point. Those cases that we were able to track down, at least before I left government, turned out to be false reports. But it is possible.

And then you have the AQ Kahn network operating out of Pakistan. The thing that scares me about that network in terms of nuclear materials, equipment and designs and so on, is that as I understand it, Libya, Iran and North Korea only account for 40% of AQ Kahn's business. Which leaves open the question, ok, where is the other 60%? What countries, what groups, and so on? So I think it's a very real concern.

Chemical and biological weapons, the technology behind most of these is so simple and has been around for so long that you can prepare this stuff in a room the size of your child's bedroom. And about 40 nations have chemical and biological weapons, as well as ballistic missiles.

With all of that said, at least inside this country, I think that while you can't discount those threats, and while you can't discount the possibility of somebody sneaking in some kind of a dirty bomb or something like that in terms of radiation, my guess is that for most terrorists, a more reliable way to carry out their actions would be the same way that they carried out the attacks on the World Trade Center both in 1993 and in 2001, and the way Timothy McVeigh did the Federal Building in Oklahoma City, because those were readily available capabilities that ingenuity, evil ingenuity, turned to a terrorist purpose.

And so I think, I worry more when I see railroad tank cars going through the middle of a city loaded with chlorine or various other chemicals, frankly, than I do about some guy sneaking a nuclear weapon in here.
And still note that he does not address the salient turnaround for uncovering the AQ Khan network which was document recovery in Iraq.

And that is that!

From my perspective Mr. Gates needs to FULLY divorce himself from the Iraqi Study Group and James Baker III. His ideas are damned different than theirs and so is his conception of the way Nations, especially the US, works. Clearly the 'on the ground' definition of what is going on will not be amenable to the 'Cold War diplomatic view' of events and circumstances.

Mr. Gates needs to transition INTO the 21st century and leave the static ideas of the Cold War behind, which he may be doing and clearly has strong opinions on. But the linkage with the Iraqi Study Group at the CSIS Institute for Peace must clearly be severed if he is NOT to be seen as their pawn. Part of the problem of the Bush family is that the elder's Rolodex gets pulled out when nothing else is available and they do NOT outreach to newer ideas and ways of doing things. As an individual, Mr. Gates has first-hand experience with terrorism and so should be a bit more clued in on that score and even offer insights into methodologies that have been tried by the CIA and FAILED.

His ability to ingest information is clear. His framework is strong, but the nagging doubt of the ISG will hold on like an anchor as he will NOT be seen as 'his own man' until he jettisons that affiliation and say: 'They are good people, but I disagree with their views.'

That, for me, would do it. His inexperience with the modern Armed Forces may be a plus as he will NOT be tied to Cold War fighting concepts. He MUST integrate a strong INTEL component up and down the board and he is eminently suited to do just that. So, even though the Democrats will drag out his approval without end, his limited input on Iraq because of *that* and his INTEL background, will start to change some of the Doctrine and Training methodology, first. His ability to push Next-Gen weapons and systems to support that has not been proven.

So, overall a change for DoD, freeing up the Commands a bit, I would think, but causing a shift in emphasis from 'fighting well' to 'fighting smart' and using ALL the INTEL Community to their advantage. That is something that no one ELSE could do in the SecDef position.

But that past must be jettisoned *first*, or else he is compromised beyond repair.


Sticky Notes said...

Great work here!

A Jacksonian said...

SN - My thanks! It is good to see that Mr. Gates aired his views last year and did so in a very public forum. He now will be asked if he is *serious* about them. Harder to walk such things back once they are out.