- The Washington Times - Friday, May 16, 2008

Threats to America

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich warned in a major speech yesterday that the United States is facing the danger of defeat today similar to Britain in the early days of World War II.

U.S. military, economic and intellectual power is eroding as threats are growing and both Republican and Democrat leaders are deficient, Mr. Gingrich said. The five “greatest strategic threats” to the country, he said, are China’s rise, a resurgent autocratic Russia, radical Islam, rogue regimes seeking weapons of mass murder, and the growth of an anti-democratic system led by a “bureaucratic international elite.”

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The U.S. needs a grand strategy to confront and outmatch all five threats, but noted that “current American efforts are too small, too unimaginative, and too timid.”

“Faced with these large, systemic challenges, the current generation of leaders in both parties are refusing to deal with the scale and the urgency required for continued American prosperity, safety, and freedom,” Mr. Gingrich told the Business Executives for National Security.

Ideologically, “we find ourselves crippled by political correctness and incapable of having honest conversations about meeting the threats around the world,” Mr. Gingrich said.

Recent guidelines by the Department of Homeland Security and National Counterterrorism Center instructing government officials not to use “Islamic terms” to describe terrorists is “enormously self-destructive,” he said.

“If we cannot have an honest discussion about the nature of the threats against us, we cannot develop strategies to meet those threats,” he said. “It is simply suicidal to treat the al Qaeda network as simply ‘an illegitimate political organization, both terrorist and criminal’ while ignoring the radical religious foundation underpinning this and other groups that constitute an Irreconcilable Wing of Islam. Anyone blind to this should be dismissed from working in national security.”

Gates on Iran

Former generals and specialists on Iran reacted harshly yesterday to comments by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates who said the United States should adopt more conciliatory policies toward Iran, including unofficial contacts and talks with the regime led by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — at a time when U.S. troops are dying in Iraq from Iranian-supplied bombs.

“Tehran’s leaders need to pay the price for their terrorism, not be rewarded,” said retired Army Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely. “It is appalling for anyone to suggest that Ahmadinejad regime whose EFPs [explosively formed penetrators] are the number-one killer of American troops in Iraq would be offered concessions.”

Said retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas G. McInerney: “I applaud Secretary Gates’ hope that more contacts with nongovernmental Iranians might help our relationship, but unfortunately, 28 years of trying to be reasonable has gotten us nothing.

“Hope is not a strategy and these radical Islamists view our carrot-and-stick approach as weakness,” Gen. McInerney said. “I urge covert action to help the Iranian people take their country back. This will solve most of our problems in the Middle East.”

Alireza Jafarzadeh, author of “The Iran Threat,” and former spokesman for the National Council of Resistance in Iran, said he opposes the stream of concessions offered by the U.S. to Iran since the 2003 invasion of Iraq. “As a result, Tehran has emerged as the single most dangerous threat in Iraq today,” he said.

Kenneth Timmerman, an author and specialist on Iran, said: “The only way to get Tehran to stop killing Americans in Iraq, funding Hezbollah, and aiding al Qaeda, is to send a forceful message that the United States will no longer tolerate such behavior.

“That message must be sent with B-2 bombers, preferably on a broad array of leadership targets,” Mr. Timmerman said.

Mr. Gates said in a speech Wednesday that he agreed with liberal New York Times columnist Tom Friedman that “we need to figure out a way to develop some leverage with respect to the Iranians and then sit down and talk with them.”

“If there’s going to be a discussion, then they need something, too,” he said of his proposal for contacts with Iranians outside of the government.

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said Mr. Gates’ views do not differ from those of President Bush, who yesterday in Israel dismissed the idea of making concessions to terrorists and radicals as “appeasement.”

China debate

Former Deputy Defense Secretary John Hamre says a “raging” debate is under way in Chinese academic circles over Beijiing’s power and influence and when to declare Beijing a world leader.

In a private memorandum for Center for Strategic and International Studies trustees, advisers and friends, Mr. Hamre, CSIS president, stated after a visit to China that Beijing’s communist leaders are encouraging the debate on China’s rise. Nationalist “lower-level bureaucrats want to challenge official orthodoxy,” he said.

The debate is about whether China should continue following the 1980s advice of late reform leader Deng Xiaoping and “maintain a low profile,” or whether China should declare itself a world power now, with the Beijing Olympics in August as the coming-out party.

The official Chinese view, Mr. Hamre stated, is still to portray China as poor and weak but confident in the future. That view fits with what U.S. intelligence officials have called China’s “denial-and-deception” efforts to mislead the West.

The current debate is whether China should join the global system now as a low-ranking power in a fixed system dominated by opponents like the United States, Japan and the European powers, or stick to its goal of being the dominant leader in Asia.

Mr. Hamre said one academic cast the debate as “is China going to be the tail of the ox, or the head of rooster?”

The former deputy defense secretary is betting China will stay on track to be a rooster head in Asia and “inspirational leader in Africa and South America.” It could be a global power in 40 to 70 years.

China base

Hans A. Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists Nuclear Information Project has found a hidden Chinese nuclear missile base using commercial satellite photos.

The missile deployments were spotted in Delingha, central China and analysis of the GoogleEarth images revealed the Second Artillery Corps 812 Brigade Base with DF-4 intermediate-range mobile and silo-based missiles, and DF-21 medium-range nuclear missiles.

“The region has long been rumored to house nuclear missiles and some details have emerged in recent years, but the new analysis reveals a significantly larger deployment area than previously known to the public, different types of launch pads, command and control facilities, and missile deployment equipment at a large facility in downtown Delingha,” Mr. Kristensen said in a statement.

The photos led to identification of 58 launch pads of four basic designs, several of which have been added since 2005.

Bill Gertz covers national security affairs. He can be reached at 202-636-3274, or at InsidetheRing@washingtontimes.com.

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