Sunday, October 8, 2006
On May 1, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld circulated a secret memo titled "Illustrative New 21st Century Institutions and Approaches." The six-page document, excerpted below, highlights the Iranian threat, calls for a multilateral military force and argues that the United States' antiquated system of government makes competence "next to impossible." I obtained the contents of this memo while reporting for "State of Denial: Bush at War, Part III" (Simon & Schuster).
-- Bob Woodward
1. Transformation of international institutions. Today the world requires new international organizations tailored to new circumstances. Many of the more pressing threats are global and transnational in scope. Terrorism proliferation, cyber crime, narcotics, piracy, hostage-taking, criminal gangs, etc. Because they cannot be dealt with successfully by any one nation alone, the cooperation of many nations will be vital. Current institutions such as the UN, NATO, OAS, the African Union, ECOWAS, ASEAN and the European Union, to mention a few, were designed at a time when the world's challenges were notably different. Some were formed over half a century ago to further U.S. foreign and security policy purposes. Today, as U.S. goals in the world at large have changed, existing international institutions have failed to adapt sufficiently. Effective international organizations are needed to bring competence to such areas as quick reaction forces, military training, military police training, counterproliferation, capacity building for the rule of law, governance and domestic ministries. This may require institutions designed for those purposes rather than struggling to reform existing institutions to take on tasks for which they are ill suited.
Examples . . . Peacekeeping and governance. The world and the U.S. would benefit from a "global peace operations and governance corps." A standing capability is needed ready to respond rapidly to deal with emerging situations before they spin out of control. Such a capability would have been useful in just the past few years in Liberia, Haiti and perhaps Sudan.
The U.S. and like-thinking nations could help to enable such a capability by training, equipping and sustaining peacekeepers with military and police capability, perhaps organized regionally in considerably greater numbers than are currently available. . . . Similarly, the U.S. and our friends and allies could help organize and train cadres of international professionals who can assist emerging governments in areas of governance and ministry building. The cost-benefit ratio of being prepared in advance and in benefiting from the use of several nations' troops rather than using solely US military forces would be substantial.
2. Regional challenges. Mideast security initiative. The threat Iran is posing and will likely continue to pose argues that it may well be time to form a new collective security arrangement for the Middle East and/or the Arabian Sea. Already one or two Middle East nations appear to be wondering if they should develop nuclear programs. This is the moment first to reassure key friends of U.S. commitment to shield them from nuclear blackmail through declaratory policy; and second, to find other ways to strengthen cooperation with them. Egypt and Saudi Arabia are the key. The U.S. needs to bolster Arab moderates now while they are viable. Some Gulf states are leaning well forward on this idea. . . .
3. A Goldwater-Nichols process for the national security portions of the U.S. government. The 1986 Goldwater-Nichols legislation led to greater jointness and interdependence in the Department of Defense among the 4 services, but it has taken 20 years to begin to fully realize its potential. The broader [U.S. government] structure is still in the industrial age and it is not serving us well. It is time to consider a new Hoover Commission to recommend ways to reorganize both the executive and legislative branches, to put us on a more appropriate path for the 21st century. Only a broad, fundamental reorganization is likely to enable federal departments and agencies to function with the speed and agility the times demand. The charge of incompetence against the U.S. government should be easy to rebut if the American people understand the extent to which the current system of government makes competence next to impossible.
Foreign assistance. The present structure of the U.S. government foreign assistance is an anachronism. A system is needed that recognizes assistance for what it really is, a component of our national security strategy. In simple terms, DOD has resources but not authorities, while State has authorities but not resources. . . . The only choice is to trash the current laws and to undertake a total overhaul of the current systems.
Strategic communications . . . A new U.S. agency for global communication could serve as a channel to inform, educate and compete in the battle for ideas. . . .
Today the centers of gravity of the conflict in Iraq and the global war on terror are not on battlefields overseas. Rather, the center of gravity of this war are on the centers of public opinion in the U.S. and in the capitals of free nations. The gateways to those centers are the international media hubs and the capitals of the world. [Ayman al-] Zawahiri has said that 50 percent of the current struggle is taking place in the arena of public information. That may be an understatement. Osama bin Laden, Zawahiri, [Abu Musab al-] Zarqawi had media committees that consistently outpace our ability to respond. When the U.S. government tries to compete in the communications arena it runs up against lack of national consensus and understanding about what means are acceptable to the media and to the Congress and disagreements as to what is legal. . . .