FOREIGN POLICY ON ROBERT GATES
Foreign Policy magazine online speculates on the tenure of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, with quotes from Andrew Krepinevich, Noah Schachtman, Reuel Marc Gerecht and Thomas P.M. Barnett. An excerpt:
Gates spent 26 years in the CIA—two as its director—but he has come under fire for allegedly politicizing intelligence into spin his bosses like to hear and not revealing all he knew about the Iran-Contra scandal in the 1980s. Regardless, his nomination has been greeted with enthusiasm by former intelligence officers, who point out that Gates will take a renewed interest in stalled intelligence reform. Under Rumsfeld, the Pentagon took expanded control of intelligence operations, often working in isolation from the civilian intel agencies. Stephen Cambone, the Pentagon’s top intelligence official and a close ally of Rumsfeld’s, has already announced that he’ll resign at the end of the year, a signal that Gates will likely assert more control of intelligence gathering at the Pentagon with an aim to speed its integration with the other agencies.
Former CIA Middle East specialist Reuel Marc Gerecht told FP that Gates’s views on Iran are “profoundly wrongheaded.” Gates has advocated “direct dialogue” with Tehran for more than a decade (longer, if you count Iran-Contra), and in 2004 he cochaired a major report that called for “a new approach” to U.S.-Iranian relations. His has become the “consensus position” in Washington now, says Iran expert Ray Takeyh of the Council on Foreign Relations (though there’s still great debate about the “how” of negotiations). As for the U.S. airstrikes on Iranian nuclear facilities advocated by some neocons, including Joshua Muravchik in FP, Takeyh says the chances “went from 0.01 percent to 0” with Gates’s nomination. In his Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Gates said that though he was “not optimistic” about discussions with the Islamic Republic, he “would counsel against military action, except as a last resort.”
The War on Terror
Gates is a Cold Warrior, and his outlook on the war on terror mimics his experience in facing down the Soviet Union. He has said that “[t]errorism is a global challenge that will take many forms and many years to defeat or contain,” but he dismisses the idea that the threat can be eradicated completely. With that outlook, he’s not expected to rock the boat in Washington. Don’t look for any deviation from current national security priorities and strategies in the fight against terrorism. Ditto military commissions, the U.S. detainee policy, Guantánamo Bay, and the application of U.S. military power around the world. If anything, expect Gates to push for improved intelligence capabilities”
December 27th, 2006 at 12:15 am
“Gates said that though he was “not optimistic” about discussions with the Islamic Republic, he “would counsel against military action, except as a last resort.””
Well, there’s some good news.
December 27th, 2006 at 12:42 am
Let me start by being very clear on my opinion of the U.S. engagement in Iraq.
The U.S. has engaged in another “Vietnam War” situation. Whether we withdraw
immediately or prolong our military presence in Iraq will make very little
difference to the ultimate outcome of Iraq’s future. The only difference will
be in the number of U.S. casualties sustained in further occupation.
We should withdraw now.
But more importantly, what led the U.S. to this foreign policy blunder,
and what must the U.S. establish as foreign ploicy to not engage in folly again. I have several proposals for U.S. Presidents in the future, and for U.S Congressmen and Congresswomen.
First – The Spread of Democracy and Freedom. The U.S. role in the world
should not entail the spread of Democracy. If foreign countries want
Democracy, they will find it through self determination, as did the
U.S. in 1776. Many ethnic and religious mindsets around the world do not countenance Democracy as we know it. Many populations are more
concerned with survival than voting in “free” elections. Many populations
seem to prefer strongman dictatorships. Avoid the urge to “nation build” in every circumstance, NO exceptions.
Second – World Engagement and the Peace process. It should not be the
U.S. role to encourage a “peace process” anywhere in the world,
as this policy inevitably leads to further entanglements and conflict
for the U.S. To the contrary, many of our foreign policy successes
came from conflicts between two or more countries, with the U.S. on
the sidelines. Witness the conflict between Afghanistan and the Soviet
Union. The Soviets were less of a threat to U.S. interests while they
were engaged in Afghanistan, and their military and their finances
sustained a terrific beating through their engagement. Additionally,
the Taliban and various other Mujahadeen forces were occupied with
fighting the Soviets, and not with tormenting the U.S. during the
conflict. Witness also the Iran/Iraq warfare. Oil was sold cheaply
to fund the Iraqi war machine under Sadaam Hussein and the Iranians
under Komeinei and the mullahs. We were able to sell a good deal of
weaponry to both sides at a profit, and the Arab countries involved
were not engaging us. Our foreign policy guideline here should be
to encourage foreign countries that may be a threat to the U.S. to
actively engage each other in warfare, and to certainly not interfere.
If two enemies are killing each other, why stop them? Let us not
blunder into the conflict, depose foreign leaders, and become the
target of animosity. I am not talking of isolationism here, I am
talking of active, covert engagement to encourage conflict between
enemies. Current example, the U.S. should be covertly trying to
instigate conflict, armed or otherwise, between Hugo Chavez and
Venezuela, and its neighbors. Support subversive groups within
Venezuela, with arms and funding. Deny we are doing this in
every forum possible, especially the U.N. Repeat around the world
Third – Direct Threats to the Well-being of the U.S. Direct threats
should be dealt with directly. Inform Kim Jong II of North Korea
that he has thirty days to comply with conditions set forth for
control of his nuclear ambitions, or the U.S. will unilaterally
eradicate his nuclear program with cruise missiles and high l
evel bombing. No invasions, no bribery, no cajoling, no aid packages,
just a warning that is carried out with non-compliance. Issue the
same warning to Iran, or any other despotic regime around the world
that threatens us with extermination. Will the Europeans and the members of the U.N. howl? Yes, ignore them.
Fourth – U.S. Troops Deployments – U.S troops should immediately be
withdrawn from Japan/Okinawa, South Korea, the Middle East, and from
Turkey, Germany, and the U.K. These nations will now have to protect
themselves, using their own troops and funds, instead of relying on
the benevolence of the U.S. No more billions of dollars in
surreptitious foreign aid, no more accepting a thumb in the eye
while we are protecting their populations.
Lastly – World Forums – The United Nations should be immediately
moved from NYC, U.S. to Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. Then world diplomats
could see first hand the poverty they opine about ad nauseum,
currently while enjoying dinners and cocktails in Manhattan.
Consider the wonderful boost to the Haitain economy. NATO should
become an equal partnership of all participants, and the U.S.
must watch for and resist military entanglements worldwide that
are not specifically in the U.S. interest.
December 27th, 2006 at 9:48 am
I do not believe withdrawing from Iraq is the answer. For one, we lose face with the rest of the world, including our allies. Second, the fanatical Islamist factions would see this as a victory and they could decide to take their victory further by attacking us or our Allies within our own borders. You would also set Iraq up for another dictator that could be worse than Saddam or anybody else in the area.
The only way this war is like the Vietnam War is how our government screwed up in the first place thereby losing public support. We had no plan to rebuild when we went into Iraq. We also had no idea how big of a challenge it would be to rebuild the infrastructure in the mostly Shia areas of the country. When we were able to start rebuilding on an acceptable scale, local Iraqi’s and a lot of local contractors were not hired to do the job. Why should they care about a new water treatment plant when foreigners built it? They didn’t have one before. No big deal if somebody blows it up. It also did not help to pull U.S troops out of their Forward Operating Bases and put them into a few large military posts. That took security out of the neighborhoods and left it open to the militias.
Now, we have the Saudis financing the Sunnis (I’m sure they are denying it in every forum possible) and Iran financing the Shia with the majority of the Iraqi people that want nothing more than peace, stuck in the middle. Honestly, I do not care if other countries pick up democracy or their own type of government, as long as that government can play well with others. Iraq most likely needs a ruler that is part iron fist and part soft hand.
As much as I agree with being very harsh on KJI, we cannot, unfortunately, bomb his nuclear program. You would have 1 million crazed NK troops pouring over the border to South Korea in a matter of minutes. Seoul would be bombed literally into oblivion in a matter of hours and you would have China and Japan both pissed off at the U.S. That’s a pretty big deal seeing that China holds a lot of American debt. This action would destroy our economy. Then we can watch China reap all the rewards while our allies, who would be upset at us for letting them “howl”, would turn us into isolationists whether or not we want to be. Right now, you can let little KJI have his moment of fame (or in his case, in-fame?). His regime looks to be on the outs as it is. Hopefully South Korea will help speed things up once Roh is out of office along with his flawed sunshine policy.
Moving the U.N. to Haiti or another country that is very poor is not a bad idea. The question is would the diplomats ignore the poverty like some of them do in their own countries?
December 28th, 2006 at 1:51 am
A minor point. The fact that China holds a lot of American debt means that we have their money, not the other way around. All they have is a bunch of notes. It is they and not us who are in a vulnerable position.
December 28th, 2006 at 7:14 am
It helps the US because China holds enough American dollars to not want to see the dollar devalue. It is also enough that if they get sketchy and decide to dump the $$ they have into the open market it could really weaken our economy. Add to that our national debt and it may not devastate our economy, but it will weaken it considerably.
That’s what I was meaning by debt. I apologize if I got the term wrong.
As far as Gates, he sounded very promising during his hearing. I do doubt that any changes he brings will be seen from my vantage point. The re-organization of the Army will continue to be what’s up front.