Rumsfeld targets ‘future threats’

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“Rumsfeld’s War” (Regnery Publishing Inc.), the new book by Rowan Scarborough, defense and national security reporter for The Washington Times, details the defense secretary’s determination to transform the military.

“It’s a different world today,” Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told an audience of Marines in Okinawa.

“We have to become much more agile,” Rumsfeld said, talking with the troops about terrorism and other threats during a “town-hall” meeting in November. “We have to be able to move in hours or days instead of weeks or months or years.”

Rumsfeld’s boss, President Bush, had not singled out individual threats to national security in his inaugural address in January 2001, less than nine months before the terrorist attacks.

But even then, Rumsfeld and other Bush aides realized they needed new strategies against Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, as well as against the nuclear programs of Iran and North Korea.

“We will build our defenses beyond challenge, lest weakness invite challenge,” Bush said after his swearing-in. “We will confront weapons of mass destruction, so that a new century is spared new horrors. The enemies of liberty and our country should make no mistake: America remains engaged in the world by history and by choice, shaping a balance of power that favors freedom.”

Waiting for the new president at the Pentagon was a classified, 160-page report on future threats stretching to the year 2020. The secret report was prepared for the Clinton administration by analysts at the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon’s own CIA in miniature, which sends agents around the world to collect information.

The DIA report, compiled in 1999, still is used actively today by Rumsfeld and others in the Bush administration with the required security clearance. I obtained a copy of the report, called “A Primer on the Future Threat” and stamped SECRET.

Among the chilling predictions:

• The radical Islamic state of Iran planned to have nuclear capability by 2008 and 10 to 20 nuclear weapons by 2020, including missiles capable of striking Europe.

• China would more than quadruple its nuclear arsenal of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) capable of reaching the United States, skyrocketing from 40 to as many as 220 missiles.

• Stalinist North Korea could hold as many as 10 atomic weapons, including ICBMs.

• Israel would maintain a nuclear arsenal of about 80 warheads.

• Warring neighbors Pakistan and India would continue to entrench themselves in the nuclear club by building nuclear-tipped missiles, more than doubling their stockpiles. India would launch its first submarine that fires ballistic missiles.

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