- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 2, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

On July 16, 1998, in Austin Texas, then-Gov. George W. Bush received his first Defense and Foreign Affairs briefing, with Joe Allbaugh present. Numerous concepts were included, like when it was logical and under what circumstances America could employ military might to defend ourselves. It highlighted the coming energy problems, particularly with China, that would stress our economy.

There were solutions presented that Mr. Bush should consider to prevent the coming turmoil. Mr. Bush grasped the essence and reflected some of these views initially. Examples at the start were when he said America would have a “humble” foreign affairs policy, and five days after September 11, 2001, that Afghanistan would be a ” Special Operations”” war.

Clearly, the main threat to world safety then, as it is now, was the Proliferation of Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical weapons. It was recommended there be a supportive and aggressive policy of intelligence based “pro-active counterproliferation,” using “surgical” forces like CIA or Special Operations units in an anytime, anywhere, high-priority mode to get at especially rogue elements and devices. It was emphasized that using conventional / “Big Army ” elements for these missions of this sort would be costly politically and in manpower and money and could lead to escalation.

Karl Rove was warned on Sept. 30, 2002, in specific detail about using conventional forces in irregular warfare scenarios like Iraq and future energy problems, which were ignored, leading the administration into the swamp.

Then there was the segue into Muslim extremist terrorism, its quantum growth, and how there could be another World Trade Center incident of 1993, or a small yield Nuclear device frying Wall Street’s computers with Electro-Magnetic Pulse to magnify their position and capability in the Muslim world. It was noted that addressing problems in that sphere, via social, economic, and political means, would dent their expansion.

A look into the near future considered how China would expand its economic and military power to address its “manifest destiny” to become a world super-power. Also reviewed was how America would need to expand its military in a customized way. This would be so particularly for our Navy, Air and Space elements, to protect ourselves and to thwart this bellicose minority in China, so we could arrive at a comfortable working across-the-board arrangement.

The threat of the international drug trade was covered — how it would subvert democratic gains in Central and South America and help undermine other governments worldwide. The briefing covered the expanding influence of the Russian mafia, which translated into their exerting control into their government for years to come.

Attention was given the bifurcation of capitalism in the drug grade. There was “light-side”/ good capitalism and “dark-side” / evil capitalism that fought continually for control in “free” and not-so-free societies. It was important to our survival to provide counterpressure to this phenomenon of “dark-side” capitalism.

Finally, in covering the threats to America, the briefing addressed the re-communization and “dark-side ” capitalist conversion of Russia — a country rich in resources and intelligence that basically lacked morality and forgiveness. Where America generally provides medicines and food to help other countries, Russia contributes merely guns.

In Russia, life was devalued routinely and society worked toward selfish interests and exploited turmoil. The briefing warned that Russians could not achieve a “democratic” society as we know it and were not our newfound friends.

Specific recommendations were made on how to customize the military to meet a changing conflict environment. It was emphasized how America must understand the need for a strong defensive military but that our military should understand a newer role and modus operandi reflecting the change in warfare, our demographics and future economy.

Later, as the years went by, these core concepts seemingly evaporated with advice from conventional four-star generals, the political and congressional operatives, the industrialists and bureaucrats.

So, as former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee criticizes these lackluster Bush policies in this area over the last seven years as “arrogant,” and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney asks Mr. Huckabee for an apology to President Bush, it seems the weight of evidence and performance these last years backs up Mr. Huckabee, and even to some degree Texas Rep. Ron Paul.

Meanwhile, the parochial experiences and logic of Mayor Rudy Giuliani cannot support a broader understanding of the world beyond the streets of New York City and the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Onetime favorite Arizona Sen. John McCain seems comfortable with an element of status quo, reflecting his conventional and Cold War military background.

Other presidential candidates in the Republican Party either are not heard, lack the courage or capability to articulate how to address a cogent defense and foreign affairs agenda, and quickly steer toward prayer in schools to garner favor.

Their Democratic counterparts are generally an inexperienced, confused and silly lot, that one would want to sell a bridge to, as they too are naive in these matters. They are comfortable going back to the flawed and contradictory policies of the “Clinton Era.” Needless to say, that translates into even more brave men and women dying, trillions more spent, and a continued weakening on our wartime economy as virtually little is resolved in the macro sense.

Accordingly, citizens should look to candidates who are trying to look through the “fog of war,” and tangentially the “fog of economics,” etc., which is interfaced. We should examine the mysteries of their bloviations to select a president.

As for this briefer, I may chose a candidate who understands the nature of situation and the threats against America and has the courage to speak out and act on them. Therefore, the word “Arrogant” above works for me.

F. Andy Messing is a board member of the National Defense Council Foundation and a retired Special Forces major who has been to 27 conflict areas .

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