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Hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee - Building Partnership Capacity and the Development of the Interagency Process

Location: Washington, DC


REP. JIM MARSHALL (D-GA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thanks to all of you for being here today and for your leadership. Secretary Gates, Admiral Mullen, it's particularly refreshing to hear how strongly you feel we should increase the capacity of State.

As you've noted, Mr. Secretary, it's kind of odd to have a secretary of Defense saying exactly that, but I think it's terribly important, given the kinds of threats that we face now and will face in the future.

I'd like to talk a little bit about Iraq and Afghanistan, specifically -- particularly Iraq. Countries that have an awful lot of their wealth based on oil struggle to have a democratic or representative government. It doesn't happen very often, so that presents quite a challenge for us, just given their circumstances to start out with, if what we're seeking for them and for us and for the world is a representative government in Iraq.

And then you combine with that our history which, as I understand it, has not been one of great success with regard to these efforts to build nations that are representative governments. If you look at past pattern by the United States, we're excellent at building security forces, militaries, et cetera. We pale on the political end of it.

We're not able to create quickly enough a political class, if you will, or a political side to which the military or the security forces remain subservient. Some charismatic military leader or some charismatic civilian leader who works closely with the military ultimately winds up taking over.

And I'm concerned that the same thing might happen to us where Iraq is concerned. It has the embarrassment of riches where oil goes, and individuals fight like heck to get control over those kinds of riches in countries like Iraq. Afghanistan, on the other hand, is quite poor and has challenges caused by the fact that it is quite poor and resource-poor.

It seems to me that we ought to be educating -- this is just sort of my view -- that we ought to be educating Iraqis -- particularly the politicians, those who would like to see a representative government, the religious leaders -- about these challenges. And asking them to think about how Iraq can avoid having another Hussein or a Musharraf or a Putin as its leadership in five years or 10 years. Certainly it's in our interest to educate them along these lines and to help them think through how they avoid that happening.

I've thought also that it was probably wise for us to think about having our military intertwined with the Iraqi military, or Iraqi security forces generally, for the foreseeable future in ways that make it less likely that the military will take over, that the security forces will take over.

And my question is this. I'm going to ask that it be answered for the record. Is there -- I don't think that this is a Crocker- Petraeus kind of thing. I think they're too buried in day-to-day, month-to-month challenges that make it difficult for them to step back, look at our history, look at the uniqueness associated with efforts to build nations in circumstances like this, and come up with a strategy. I think this has to be at the secretary level. I think this has to be done here.

And what I'd like -- and I talked with Mr. Skelton just a minute ago about what would be the appropriate timing for a report to us, getting back to us in writing -- what are we doing about this? What are the two departments that -- obviously State and Defense are the two departments to work on this -- is there a team thinking through these issues, looking at our history, looking at efforts like this and identifying this --

If it's not a problem, let us know that it's not a problem and we don't have to worry about it.

If it is a problem, then what are we doing to make it less likely that we wind up with some autocracy or oligarchy -- or whatever it is -- that typically winds up plaguing these kinds of countries -- and certainly has plagued in the past our efforts to do these sorts of things? It would be exactly the opposite of the result that we'd like to see and that Iraqis generally would like to see.

It seems to me that we've got to have a strategy in place and "to-do" lists and specific things to be done. To me, at the very least, educating Iraqis; probably thinking about being intertwined; and frankly, thinking that in our SOFA agreement, or what have you, they'd be interested in having exactly that happen would be things that should be considered. But I'm not the person that should be thinking through this. I think you all should.

So two weeks -- get back with what we're doing and what is the "to-do" list -- who's doing it, et cetera.

SEC. RICE: We'll certainly get back to you about the significant institution building efforts. But absolutely, we'll get back to you.

REP. MARSHALL: Okay, thanks.

I didn't want to take any more of my five minutes. I was going to give my little spiel here in hopes that I'm clear, and in hopes that this can lead to a great report.

Thank you.


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