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Sunday, March 02, 2008

Is This The Best Team?

I mentioned in my last post that I'd write at length about Barack Obama's foreign policy/national security advisers. With John McCain having stronger credentials on the subject than either Democrat it's going to be a big issue, and is starting to get a lot of press coverage, so here's a few things to think about.

The lead advisor in this team is Zbigniew Brzezinski, architect of much of Jimmy Carter's policy. ZB isn't an idiot when it comes to foreign policy, but at the same time many of his judgement's during the Carter era can legitimately be questioned. Specifically how did we fail so miserably at knowing what was going on in Iran, and was abandonment of Taiwan necessary to improve relations with China?

Even 30 years later our relationship with Taiwan is strained because of that, and while trade relations with China are good, diplomatic relations have never been as strong as they should be.

Anthony Lake, another high ranking advisor was directory of Policy Planning for President Carter, and held several posts in the Clinton administration. Again, Lake is an experienced person in foreign affairs, but is his the right experience? Remember that his nomination to head the CIA was pulled after a horrible hearing when it was realized that he'd never get enough support to be confirmed. Many of the issues at those hearings concerned how he, and the rest of the Clinton team handled informing Congress about actions and events in Bosnia. (If you think this administration is bad about informing Congress, look up the transcripts of Lake's hearings, and gain some insight on how Clinton handled Bosnia)

Richard Danzig was Secretary of the Navy for Bill Clinton's last 3 years in office and Undersecretary prior to that. Someone once remarked that 'he was probably the smartest guy who ever walked the halls of the Pentagon, and he didn't mind reminding people of that'.

I lived through that time period in the service, and can say that Mr. Danzig was probably the LEAST respected SecNav I encountered in 21 years of service.

His view of the military as a vehicle for social change was roundly criticized by the leadership I worked with and for during that period. Admittedly not all of the change was the horror story some made it out to be. However, Danzig's implementation of it, and complete ignoring of anyone with other opinions made things much worse than they had to be.

Near open revolt by senior leadership over his policies and priorities by late 1999 and 2000 and the huge departure of junior officers after only one tour have left a gaping hole in the Navy that still hasn't been fully repaired. The scary thing is, he'd probably be Obama's choice as Secretary of defense.

Merrill A. "Tony" McPeak was brought up yesterday, concerning comments on John McCain. McPeak's claim to fame was being Air Force Chief of Staff from 1990-1994 when he retired, and for 3 weeks in 1993 acting as both Chief of Staff and Secretary of the Air Force. He did bring a lot of change, much of it neccessary, to the Air Force after the end of the Cold War, but has been dogged by accusations that he cut too much, too fast, and without thoughts on how those cuts would affect the service in the future.

Many of his contemporaries also felt that he spent too much time trying to turn the Air Force into a "corporate structure", and too little concentrating on it as a fighting force.

Lawrence Korb is probably a far left liberal's wet dream as far as being on a "defense" team goes. His objectives at some of the institutes he's affiliated with are getting rid of the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy (which, oddly, was formed while Danzig was on the Clinton team), and redirect a good portion of the military budget to programs such as education, healthcare, job training, renewable energies and and deficit reduction. Unfortunately, his stated goal isn't to save that money by modernizing acquisition and expenditure methods in the military, which would probably work to give him that windfall.

The now infamous Richard Clarke, who served both GHWB and GWB, and Bill Clinton is another member of the national security team. Clarke's falling out with the current administration has made him a hero of the far left. When you look over the full body of work written about him after his departure, from 2 administrations worth of people, you start wondering about just how much of what he said was true, and how much was salesmanship for his book.

When you look at the team as a whole what you find is a group that has had a few big successes, a number of abysmal failures, and is ripe with political agendas that may not be the best match for the world we face today.

Both Lake and Brzezinski are probably capable of leading the bureaucracies that they would get handed to them, but both carry a lot of baggage from their past government posts to make it clear they may not be the best choices, or be particularly effective.

Danzig has already proven that he's not a great leader, and probably would alienate a good chunk of the military based on his past.

McPeak, Korb and Clarke appear to be on the team to show the left that it's serious about getting as far from Bush, and even Clinton policies as possible, with all of them being outspoken critics of Bush, and at least one wanting to kill off some Clinton policies that are still hanging around.

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