Posts tagged ‘Leon Panetta’

Bolton accuses administration of leaking story on Israeli planning along Iran border

By John Bolton

http://israel-commentary.org/?p=3175

Published March 29, 2012 | FoxNews.com

Former U.S. diplomat John Bolton alleged Thursday that the Obama administration leaked a story about covert Israeli activity in order to foil potential plans by the country to attack Iran’s nuclear program.

Bolton, who served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in the George W. Bush administration, was responding to an article in Foreign Policy magazine that quoted government sources claiming Israel had been granted access to airfields in Azerbaijan — along Iran’s northern border.

The article did not state exactly what the Israelis’ intentions were, but it suggested it could point to a possible strike on Iran. ”I think this leak today is part of the administration’s campaign against an Israeli attack,” Bolton claimed on Fox News.

The White House did not respond to Bolton’s claims Thursday.

Bolton, a Fox News contributor, noted that a strike launched from Azerbaijan would be much easier for the Israelis than a strike launched from their own country — jets could stay over their targets longer and worry less about refueling.  But he said tipping the Israelis’ hand by revealing “very sensitive, very important information” could frustrate such a plan. Speaking afterward to FoxNews.com, Bolton said he didn’t have hard proof that this was an intentional administration leak to halt an Israeli attack.

But he noted widely reported comments from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in February that he thinks the Israelis could strike as early as April.  If that’s the case, Bolton said, then it would be “entirely consistent” for the administration to try to avoid that impending outcome. The Foreign Policy article quoted what were identified as “high-level sources … inside the U.S. government.”  It specifically mentioned “four senior diplomats and military intelligence officers.”

One intelligence officer, who was unnamed, told the magazine that the U.S. was “watching” the activity and was “not happy about it.”The Foreign Policy article did not specify whether any of the information came from the White House, and there is no direct evidence that this was a coordinated leak.

“Clearly, this is an administration-orchestrated leak,” Bolton told FoxNews.com. “This is not a rogue CIA guy saying I think I’ll leak this out.” “It’s just unprecedented to reveal this kind of information about one of your own allies,” Bolton said.

And Mark Steyn Says: Well, I think if you wanted just a single reason to vote this guy out in November, this is pretty much it. It’s part of a pattern. He regretted, a couple of years ago, that he didn’t have the freedom of maneuver that the politburo does in China. And we know that in China, it’s a dictatorship. In Russia, Vladimir Putin rigs the elections. Here, there’s 300 million people who have got all kinds of whimsical ideas about this and that, and they’re getting in his way. And for him to actually be sitting there next to the president of a hostile power, and say oh, believe me, I so envy you, you wouldn’t believe the trouble I have with this crazy democracy business back home, I can’t wait until that’s all behind me, and then I can just do what I want, that alone ought to be a disqualifier for office.

Elaine F. Miller, Esq.

The Washington Times Editorial

EDITORIAL: An old soldier who wont fade away

http://israel-commentary.org/?p=2556

Gen. David H. Petraeus closed his phenomenal 37-year Army career this week with a joint review at Fort Myer in Arlington . Service members from every branch were present, and flags of all 50 states fluttered in the breeze. A substantial crowd had come to hear the general’s farewell address. Many were classmates from the West Point Class of 1974, smartly attired but enthusiastic and occasionally whooping like they were cadets. Others were people with whom he had served over his storied career, whom he recognized from the dais during his speech. The morning was sunny and clear, and the general was his usual affable, ebullient self.

In his remarks, Gen. Petraeus recalled the days when he entered the military, when the Vietnam War was winding down and the armed services were being pared down to the “hollow forces” of the 1970s. “The Army I joined as a second lieutenant had suffered enormously,” he said. “In the wake of our involvement in Vietnam , our Army and much of our military were grappling with a host of very serious challenges.” The senior leaders who first wore the uniform in those dark days were not discouraged. They began their careers with a sense of mission. “I know I speak for many when I say that we came away from that period vowing to never let our forces get to such a point ever again.” Through his efforts, and those of countless other visionaries in and out of uniform, the hollow forces were transformed once again into the finest fighting force in the world. Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, presided over the ceremony with William J. Lynn, deputy secretary of defense. Notably absent were Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta, whose former position as CIA director is Gen. Petraeus’ next assignment, and President Obama. Their non-appearance did not sit well with some. “Obama should have been here,” a warrior who served under Gen. Petraeus told The Washington Times. “And he should have invited [former President George W.] Bush. The general saved their bacon. Twice.

“Everyone has forgotten that in 2007 we as a nation had said, ‘OK, we are going to lose Iraq .’ And President Bush said, ‘Well what if we win?’ Petraeus rode into town and assembled an extraordinary team. His personal drive, his charisma, his optimism, his can-do spirit, all of that is what gave us hope that we could in fact turn Iraq around,” our source explained. “And by September of ’07, the progress had been dramatic enough that it became common knowledge to the American people that things were turning around in Iraq . Eight months earlier, a lot of people, including Obama, wanted to tuck tail and have another Vietnam .”

That’s not all. “Here is the guy who saved our reputation as a nation. Seriously, who’s missing this? And then he went to [Central Command] and was doing great things. And Obama asked him to take a functional demotion and go back to Afghanistan and save our bacon again,” we were told. “To leave his family, to step down from a regional command, to take on that burden. And he said yes, and he did it. Petraeus was the right guy at the right time, he answered the call, and now he’s being yanked out before we’re ready, just like the troops are being yanked out before Afghanistan is ready.”

So what’s the reason for the White House about-face? “They are sending him to the CIA to keep him quiet during the 2012 election. It shows how small and scared they are. He is an honorable man, he has never expressed political ambition. But they saw him as a threat. He is an independent thinker, the finest military mind of his generation,” our source posits. “What he suffers from is that he is more excellent than almost anyone he meets, to include the president. The troops love him. Strong people surround themselves with the most excellent people they can find, even those brighter and more capable than themselves. Weak people don’t.”

There is a shameful indignity in how this hero was treated. “The president couldn’t find the time in his schedule, nor could the [defense secretary] find the time to look him in the eye and say thank you in person,” this warrior told The Washington Times. “It’s one thing to say ‘we support the troops’ and trot out your first lady to do that, but this is where it counts. It would have been an appropriate gesture to come here to recognize the professional and personal sacrifice of this extraordinary man. It would have been the dignified thing to do.”

The hero remained above it all. The cannons boomed and the crowd cheered and Gen. Petraeus stood smiling in the sun.

Copyright 2011 The Washington Times, LLC.

 

 

 

 

 


BY GARY SCHMITT AND THOMAS DONNELLY

Weekly Standard, OCT 10, 2011
http://israel-commentary.org/?p=1912
Among the many shortcomings of the Budget Control Act and its spawn, the “Super Committee,” is that the threat of a sequestration “nuclear option”—in which some $600 billion would be cut automatically from national security accounts (to my mind, the brain child of a president who has never had our national security as a consideration – jsk) if congressmen do not find savings elsewhere—diverts attention from the damage the law has done already to America’s military.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey have been quick off the mark in pointing out that sequestration would be “unacceptable” and “very high risk.” Various military service leaders have said that, if sequestration does come to pass, the country would have to “rethink” its entire military strategy. But the corollary to such criticism has been that the cuts already in law, though painful, can be “managed.” The Air Force’s second-ranking general told the House Armed Services Committee that “we will not go hollow” despite the $400 billion cut provided in the Budget Control Act.

But there’s good reason to wonder whether this is right. To begin with, the size of the current cut has grown. Last week Reuters reported that the level of defense reductions has increased to $489 billion, after the Obama administration decided to exempt veterans’ benefits from any cuts whatsoever. The White House is making a rather predictable political judgment that cutting Veterans budgets would cause them more pain than gutting defense budgets.

A better understanding of how the military is already being weakened can be found in a memo prepared for House Armed Services Committee chairman Buck McKeon. Although most news reports about the memo focused on the deep, indeed shocking, cuts in force structure that may result from sequestration, no less important was the memo’s accounting of the long-term effect on the military of current funding under the Budget Control Act.

Consider the personnel strength of the Army and Marine Corps. Even with 771,400 soldiers and Marines on active duty, both services remain stretched well beyond their limits. Based on current funding, the committee estimates that end-strength will fall to 654,000—smaller than pre-9/11 levels. Similarly, the Navy could slip to something on the order of 260 vessels—more than 50 ships below what the Navy consistently has argued it needs to carry out the country’s national security strategy. As for the Air Force, in 2000, it was flying more than 3,600 fighters; with cuts mandated by the Budget Control Act, that number may drop to less than 1,740.

The McKeon memo does not specify with equal precision the budget’s effects on future weapons programs, but there’s no reason to think such effects won’t be commensurate to the service cuts. The committee is correct to point out that every modernization program is “at risk”; the only real question is the level of risk. We are told that sequestration will create “unacceptable” risk, but because the Pentagon has yet to fully reckon the consequences of the current cuts, or even to reckon their overall size, there’s no way of knowing how much damage has already been done. So the service chiefs’ assurances that all is well should be treated with a heavy dose of skepticism.

The real problem is not the mechanism of sequestration, brutal though it may be. The fact is that the United States has been in an extended “defense drawdown” since the end of the Cold War, reaping substantial “peace dividends” throughout the Clinton years, during the Obama years, and now under the Budget Control Act. Indeed, more than $800 billion has been cut from planned spending in just the past three years. It’s time to say “enough” and to refuse not only sequestration but also a deal that avoids automatic reductions by substituting “just” a couple of hundred billion more in defense cuts. These are “savings” the nation cannot afford.

The title above, a paraphrase, of course (jsk)

‘Enough’

The Weekly Standard, JUN 6, 2011, VOL. 16, NO. 36

BY GARY SCHMITT AND THOMAS DONNELLY

In the next month, after more than four decades of distinguished public service including almost five extraordinary years at the Pentagon supervising the successful surges in Iraq and Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Robert Gates will retire. He departs as the very model of a Washington “wise man,” having served in senior positions in two Democratic and three Republican administrations—the best the inside-the-Beltway establishment has to offer. His parting words, delivered in a series of valedictory speeches, carry the weight of his long experience and sober judgment.

Gates’s career spans a remarkable period from the Cold War to today, the events of which raised immense hopes—none more than the collapse of the Soviet Empire—and were punctuated by deep darkness—9/11 and the year 2006 in Iraq.

In his May 22 speech at the University of Notre Dame commencement, Gates summed up the classical wisdom of a conservative: “If history—and religion—teach us anything, it is that there will always be evil in the world, people bent on aggression, oppression, satisfying their greed for wealth and power and territory, or determined to impose an ideology based on the subjugation of others and the denial of liberty to men and women.”

If mankind has fallen, the United States of America still struggles to lift it up. “Since I entered government 45 years ago, I’ve shifted my views and changed my mind on a good many things as circumstances, new information, or logic dictated,” Gates allowed in a speech last week at the American Enterprise Institute that developed the themes of his commencement address. “But I have yet to see evidence that would dissuade me from this fundamental belief: that America does have a special position and set of responsibilities on this planet.”

To protect and promulgate its liberties and the cause of liberty, America must be strong. “More than any other secretary of defense, I have been a strong advocate of ‘soft’ power—of the critical importance of diplomacy and development as fundamental components of our foreign policy and national security.” But, said Gates, “Make no mistake: the ultimate guarantee against the success of aggressors, dictators, and terrorists in the 21st century, as in the 20th, is ‘hard’ power—the size, strength, and global reach of the United States military.”

This is the heart of the matter. During his service under Barack Obama, Gates has been directed to make three significant rounds of reductions in Pentagon plans and budgets. The first came in early 2009. As the Obama administration prepared to inject $800 billion in “stimulus” into the faltering U.S. economy, canvassing agencies for “shovel-ready” projects, it ordered weapons cuts that totaled about $330 billion.

In 2010, seeing the shifts in the domestic political landscape, Secretary Gates seized the initiative to wring $100 billion in “efficiencies” from defense programs, hoping he would be permitted to reinvest the money in higher priority procurements. He got to keep about three-quarters of the “savings,” but the White House took not only the remainder but another $75 billion.

The net result was that Gates transferred $78 billion from one Pentagon pot to another, but a further $100 billion was cut. The third round began on April 13, when the president announced—though he hadn’t informed Gates until the night before—that the Defense Department would contribute another $400 billion to his “deficit reduction plan.”

If brought to fruition, the Obama administration will have sliced something on the order of 15 to 20 percent out of the already overstretched military it inherited. The dollar figures don’t reflect the full extent of the damage, but the loss in power is clear: The Army and Marine Corps will return to their pre-9/11 size, and major land, sea, and air projects have been reduced, ended early, or never brought into production. And it might be worse: Secretary Gates has acidly described the defense cuts called for by the chairmen of the president’s deficit commission, Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, as “catastrophic,” driven by budget “math, not [military] strategy.”

Gates’s parting wisdom can be boiled down to one word: enough. The “low-hanging fruit,” he declared at AEI, “those weapons and other programs considered most questionable, have not only been plucked, they have been stomped on and crushed.” The fat has been trimmed; what’s left is bone.

Gates also defined the challenge for the man nominated to be his successor, Leon Panetta, who’s been a strong director of central intelligence but who also, as a congressman in the 1990s, led the charge to reduce defense spending. “We need to be honest with the president, with the Congress, with the American people, indeed with ourselves, about what the consequences [of further defense cuts] are: that a smaller military, no matter how superb, will be able to go fewer places and be able to do fewer things.”

Gates’s warning should be a call to arms for conservatives who, in election after election, have retained the public’s trust by adhering to the principle that American military preeminence is absolutely essential if we want security at home and great-power peace abroad.

It is a platform that Republicans in Congress and those running for president, in particular, need to reaffirm. Former Minnesota governor and 2012 presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty got it precisely right when he said: “I’m not one who’s going to stand before you and say we need to cut the defense budget. .  .  . I’m not for shrinking America’s presence in the world. I’m for making sure America remains the world leader.”

Through the surges in Iraq and Afghanistan, Bob Gates has seen the thin line that separates “too few” from “just enough.” He knows how hard it is to turn defeat into a chance for victory. When he says “enough,” conservatives—and all Americans—should listen.