When you're the Defense dept., every problem has a military solution.
Since the intelligence restructuring, a process very similar has been going on between the DoD and the CIA. When Negroponte took the job coordinating and overseeing all intelligence matters, budgetary matters for the Pentagon's massive intel arm were left outside his umbrella offering no practical way for him to exert control.
Then we had reports of the Defense Dept. placing military spec ops troops in US embassies working independently from the CIA personnel, forming plans, making contacts, executing operations all within what has traditionally been the CIA's domain. In this WaPo article tomorrow, it becomes apparent that the same spec ops teams can now act independently of the local ambassadors making the State Dept's top reps in country absolutely meaningless as well.
My point in all this is to show the massive shift of power that has taken place from the traditional diplomatic and spy agencies to the DoD which is having real consequences on policy.
For example, if the State Dept was running Iran policy right now, we would probably be pursuing significant efforts at a negotiated solution. If the CIA were put in charge of Iran policy, their solution would probably be operations targeting the scientists and support staff to compromise them and sabotage the program.
But, instead, the Department of Defense, again in conjunction with the VP's office, appears to be playing the majority role in setting Iran policy. So, should we be surprised that the main proposed solution appears to be no negotiations followed by military strikes?
For example, SOCOM has dispatched small teams of Army Green Berets and other Special Operations troops to U.S. embassies in about 20 countries in the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Latin America, where they do operational planning and intelligence gathering to enhance the ability to conduct military operations where the United States is not at war.And in a subtle but important shift contained in a classified order last year, the Pentagon gained the leeway to inform -- rather than gain the approval of -- the U.S. ambassador before conducting military operations in a foreign country, according to several administration officials. "We do not need ambassador-level approval," said one defense official familiar with the order....
"SOCOM is, in fact, in charge of the global war on terror," Brown said in testimony before the House last month. In this role, SOCOM directs and coordinates actions by the military's regional combatant commands. SOCOM, if directed, can also command its own counterterrorist operations....
But SOCOM's more robust role -- while adding manpower, specialized skills and organization to the fight against terrorism -- has also led to some bureaucratic tensions, both inside the military with the joint staff and regional commands, as well as with the CIA and State Department. Such tensions are one reason SOCOM's plan took years.
This usurpation of more and more power by the DoD from other executive branches is a significant story that has serious impacts. In many ways it mirrors the claims of extraordinary executive powers made by the president and the effect is similar. And, I would assume this claim of power is planned to last throughout the duration of this "generational war."
I'm tired. I hope that made sense.
(UPDATE: The DoD is gutting the CIA's role while Porter Goss's main priority is plugging leaks.)