Monday, November 26, 2007

Defense Sec. Gates Yearns for 'Soft Power'

In speech at a university in Kansas, Gates doesn't sound like the Republicans who've made the messes we live in. He even answered real questions! Finally, some one in the Pentagon talking sense. Not talking about building more anti-ballistic missiles to fight terrorists hiding in caves. It's so refreshing and a relief!

Gates bemoans the lack of "soft power." “It is just plain embarrassing that al-Qaida is better at communicating its message on the Internet than America,” he said. “Speed, agility and cultural relevance are not terms that come readily to mind when discussing U.S. strategic communications.” Hmmm - wasn't Karen Hughes in charge of this effort?? Until she recently quit.

He's got a few facts wrong. "Gates called for the creation of new government organizations,"
Um - Voice of American and the United States Information Agency still exist. Hello!?! They were gutted along with much of the federal government in the Reagan years (FAA, FCC, HUD, etc, etc, etc). Gates claimed the gutting of happened in the 1990s. Yes, President Clinton continued the downsizing and deregulating and called it triangulation.

Gates also called for more a larger budget for the state department which is 1/10th of the Pentagon (not including the Iraq and Iran war). Note that several reports (one in Vanity Fair last summer) delineate how the Pentagon farms out a bulk of that overblown budget for a mark up to cover former regular Defense Dept. activities to the now infamous private contractors, costing the taxpayer more, enriching scum, outside the normal accountability of law.

Budget is one thing. Just as with the Justice Department under Gonzalez, foreign service agents are fleeing the State Department under Rice. These are career civil servants who have served under both Democrats and Republicans. They are the bureaucrats, technocrats, that make our government work. Oh right, Republicans don't want the federal government to work.

One new thing - anti-war protesters wore t-shirts making "Iraq" a verb - "Don't Iraq Iran." That's good. Even better than Jon Stewart's Messopotamia.

For how an Obama presidency, in one fell swoop, would increase our soft power (and make us safer) - I very strongly recommend again Andrew Sullivan's cover piece in this month's Atlantic Monthly. Sullivan was on This Week yesterday talking about the ideas he outlines in this must read piece.

AP reports on Gates: Defense chief: Fight terrorism with 'soft power.'

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