Friday, November 07, 2008

Secretary Gates at Carnegie

On October 28 of this year, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates visited the Carnegie Endowment For International Peace to speak on the subject of “Nuclear Weapons and Deterrence in the 21st Century.” The speech broke no new policy ground nor did it propose new programs. What was noticeable was his repeated call for the next Congress to fund completion of a study by the RAND Corporation on the proposed Reliable Replacement Warhead program. .

But the Q and A that followed – this is where the real person emerges if he (or she) is to step forward at such gatherings at all. Two such answers follow.

“I’m not sure how successful we were, at least in the early SALT and START agreements, in terms of actual reductions of arms in the strategic arena; but one of the things I believe very strongly is that the arms control process itself contributed to a safer world; that it was, in essence a quarter-century seminar between the United States and the Soviet Union on how each thought about nuclear weapon, nuclear war, strategic planning, how they intended to use these weapons. We learned a great deal.

“I can tell you that the story involving General Trusov at the very beginning of the S ALT talks, when General Trusov, the senior military guy on the Soviet delegation, came to Gerry Smith, the head of our delegation, and said, “You guys cannot talk about our nuclear capabilities in front of our delegation because they’re not cleared for it” – it’s a true story.”


“I have spent 30 years in the search for the elusive Iranian moderate….I was with Zbig [National Security Advisor Brzezinski] when he was at the 25th anniversary of the Algerian revolution. And we got word that the Iranian leadership wanted to meet with him. This was October 1979. And Zbig got permission to do this. So we met with the prime minister, the defense minister, and the foreign minister of the new Iranian revolutionary government. I think it was the first senior-level meeting with the Iranian leadership since the revolution.
“And Brzezinski laid it all out. He said we will sell you the weapons that we had contracted to sell the shah. We will recognize your revolution. We will work with you because we have a common enemy to your north, the Soviet Union. And he laid it all out in strategic terms for them. They said “Give us the shah. “ It went back and forth like that for about two hours. And finally Brzezinski got up, turned to them and said “To give you the shah would be a violation of our national honor. “ That ended the meeting. Three days later they seized the embassy. And two weeks later all three of those guys were out of power. Thus began the American attempt to reach out to the revolutionary regime in Iran.”

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