Gates Saying All the Right Things

I first read Robert Gates’ book several years ago, and re-read chunks of it last month. He’s a seriously sensible guy. (He even managed to come through Reaganville/Iran-Contraland with his integrity mostly intact.) I’ve been touting him for SecDef for more than a year–ever since he started clamoring for more money and resources at State. (Do Pentagon chiefs ever do that?)

And he’s still banging his spoon on the high chair–here, in the current issue of Foreign Affairs:

What is dubbed the war on terror is, in grim reality, a prolonged, worldwide irregular campaign — a struggle between the forces of violent extremism and those of moderation. Direct military force will continue to play a role in the long-term effort against terrorists and other extremists. But over the long term, the United States cannot kill or capture its way to victory. Where possible, what the military calls kinetic operations should be subordinated to measures aimed at promoting better governance, economic programs that spur development, and efforts to address the grievances among the discontented, from whom the terrorists recruit. It will take the patient accumulation of quiet successes over a long time to discredit and defeat extremist movements and their ideologies.

I really like the bolded line, which is a direct quote from Petraus’s congressional testimony.

I wish certain people had realized that six years ago.

As for killing and capturing (still necessary, of course), am I crazy, or do the (increasing) attacks in Mumbai, Kabul, and Islamabad offer Obama/Clinton an amazing opportunity to bring those three countries together with the U.S., putting aside squabbles, to collectively crush the crazies? All four governments are being directly, physically threatened by the same people.

Key question there: can the Pakistani civilian leaders remove the crucial impediment–the crazies in their military and intelligence arms? Can Clinton make the case that they have to, for the sake of their own existence?

Update 12/8: 1. Yes, the Pakistanis are trying. 2. It’s nice to see that Robert Kaplan and maybe even Barack Obama are having similar thoughts:

The existence of terrorist outfits like Lashkar-e-Taiba that have links
with the Pakistani security apparatus but are outside the control of
Pakistan’s own civilian authorities is the very definition of chaos. … We need a second special negotiator for the Middle East, a skilled
diplomat shuttling regularly among New Delhi, Islamabad and Kabul
(There has been some speculation, in fact, that Barack Obama is
considering Richard Holbrooke, the former United Nations ambassador,
for just such a job.)






2 responses to “Gates Saying All the Right Things”

  1. Ron Russell Avatar

    Terrorist isn’t born out of poverty–its idealistic not economic in nature. Sure some recruits come from the teeming ghettos of the middle east, but to think that pumping economic resources into those areas will help in the fight, seems completely foolish. The Marshal Plan did buy us friends in Europe after WWII; but that was only after we had wiped out facism. You may be able to buy votes in Detroit and Philly but not in Cario and Damascus and certainly not in Saudi Arabia–give me a break!

  2. Steve Roth Avatar

    Gates does mention economic development, but do you think he’s saying what you’re saying? Have you read Zakariah’s The Future of Freedom? Or, for that matter, have you read Gates’ book? Did you even read his article?
    I’m assuming you’re one of those who think that Sarah–cause “she’s like me!” (finger twirling in cheek)–would do a really sterling job. I’m sure you would too–far better than Gates. He’s one of those pointy-headed effete intellectuals, right?
    Others aren’t so presumptuous, and are pleased to find sense and competence (and are able to discern same) even in those from camps with which they profoundly disagree.