And you’re talking about the potential for, I think, real dangerous times if we don’t get our act together. Now, let me get a little more specific. This is where I’m sure the journalists will get their pens out. Almost everyone since the ’47 act, with the exception, I think, of Eisenhower, has in some way or another, perterbated, flummoxed, twisted, drew evolutionary trends with, whatever, the national security decision-making process....
... The complexity of crises that confront governments today is just unprecedented. Let me say that again.
The complexity of the crises that confront governments today are just unprecedented. At the same time, especially in America, but I submit to you that in Japan, in China and in a number of other countries soon to be probably the European Union, it’s just as bad, if not in some ways worse.
The complexity of governing is unprecedented. You simply cannot deal with all the challenges that government has to deal with, meet all the demands that government has to meet in the modern age, in the 21st century, without admitting that it is hugely complex. That doesn’t mean you have to add a Department of Homeland Security with 70,000 disparate entities thrown under somebody in order to handle them. But it does mean that your bureaucracy has got to be staffed with good people and they’ve got to work together and they’ve got to work under leadership they trust and leadership that, on basic issues, they agree with.
And that if they don’t agree, they can dissent and dissent and dissent. And if their dissent is such that they feel so passionate about it, they can resign and know why they’re resigning. That is not the case today. And when I say that is not the case today, I stop on 26 January 2005.
I don’t know what the case is today. I wish I did. But the case that I saw for 4 plus years was a case that I have never seen in my studies of aberration, bastardizations, [inaudible], changes to the national security [inaudible] process. What I saw was a cabal between the Vice President of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the Secretary of Defense and [inaudible] on critical issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made.
And then when the bureaucracy was presented with those decisions and carried them out, it was presented in such a disjointed incredible way that the bureaucracy often didn’t know what it was doing as it moved to carry them out.
Read George Packer’s book The Assassin’s [inaudible] if you haven’t already. George Packer, a New Yorker, reporter for The New Yorker, has got it right. I just finished it and I usually put marginalia in a book but, let me tell you, I had to get extra pages to write on.
And I wish, I wish I had been able to help George Packer write that book. In some places I could have given him a hell of a lot more specifics than he’s got. But if you want to read how the Cheney Rumsfeld cabal flummoxed the process, read that book. And, of course, there are other names in there, Under Secretary of Defense Douglas [jf - Feith], whom most of you probably know Tommy Frank said was stupidest blankety blank man in the world. He was. Let me testify to that. He was. Seldom in my life have I met a dumber man.
And yet, and yet, after the Secretary of State agrees to a $400 billion department, rather than a $30 billion department, having control, at least in the immediate post-war period in Iraq, this man is put in charge. Not only is he put in charge, he is given carte blanche to tell the State Department to go screw themselves in a closet somewhere. That’s not making excuses for the State Department.
That’s telling you how decisions were made and telling you how things got accomplished. Read George’s book...
...They’ve [jf - defense contractors] got every Congressman, every Senator, they got it covered. Now, it’s not to say that they aren’t smart businessmen. They are, and women. They are. But it’s something we should be looking at, something we should be looking at. So you’ve got this collegiality there between the Secretary of Defense and the Vice President. And then you’ve got a President who is not versed in international relations. And not too much interested in them either.
Saturday, October 22, 2005
Colonel Wilkerson is a military academic who followed Colin Powel into government. He lectures here on US foreign policy (ft.com). He rambles a bit. He liked George Bush I and accepted the Clintonians with grudging respect. He acknowledges must US presidents are far from brilliant. Then he gets down to the brassy tacks (emphases mine):