Lessons

By ERNEST F. HOLLINGS, former U. S. senator

JAN. 11, 2013 -- I've been a friend of the Central Intelligence Agency since I investigated the CIA on the Task Force of Intelligence of the Hoover Commission in 1954 and 1955. I congratulate Leon Panetta and the agency on catching Bin Laden.


Hollings

But intelligence is a game of successes and failures. "Storming Norman" General Schwarzkopf told me that the CIA was terrible in Desert Storm. "I had to depend on my pilots for intelligence" said the General. The CIA failed in Vietnam, Iraq and now Afghanistan. Somehow we can't learn that you can't change the culture of a country militarily regardless of intelligence. In 2004, when we had lunch together, Congressman Charlie Wilson had not had a drink for five years, had remarried and looked chipper. "You know how we won that war?" Charlie asked. "No" I answered. "The Afghans don't like foreigners and the Russians were foreigners. In fact, the Afghans don't like each other" he said. The CIA was paying the South to go along with the North. Today in Afghanistan the United States are the foreigners. Afghanistan will be run by the warlords whether we leave tomorrow morning or in 2014.

"Our best weapons for foreign policy are our democracy and Good Neighbor Policy. But this depends upon a strong economy. We've got to cut the charade in Washington, stop borrowing, pay for government and rebuild our economy. "

-- Hollings

Now the U.S. must learn that in the nuclear age there is no such thing as a military superpower. Even little North Korea is a threat. Any hot conflict with China is bound to go nuclear and we'd both lose. Point - we must avoid war with China and stop acting like we may go to war with China by stationing 2,500 Marines in Australia. Australia is not going to war with China and neither are we. Congress is not going to send GI's to the South China Sea to be killed in the dispute between China and Vietnam; nor in the dispute between China and Japan over the Senkaku Islands; nor in the dispute between China and China over Taiwan. China knows this and is intent on becoming an economic superpower. China knows that the economy works.

Two years ago when Japan seized a Chinese ship captain, China withheld rare earth supplies important to Japan's manufacture of computers and Japan promptly returned the ship Captain. China buys strategic properties all over the world while the U.S. puffs and blows militarily and goes broke economically. We have 196,000 G.I.'s stationed in countries around the world and act like there's some threat to our security. The only threat to our security is the policy of drone killing supposed terrorists which makes more enemies than it eliminates. We are overextended militarily and all the world knows it except the U.S.

Our best weapons for foreign policy are our democracy and Good Neighbor Policy. But this depends upon a strong economy. We've got to cut the charade in Washington, stop borrowing, pay for government and rebuild our economy.

Senator Hollings of South Carolina served 38 years in the United States Senate, and for many years was Chairman of the Commerce, Space, Science & Transportation Committee. He is the author of Making Government Work (University of South Carolina Press, 2008).

© 2013, Ernest F. Hollings. All rights reserved. Contact us for republication permission.

About Fritz Hollings

Ernest F. Hollings served the public for 56 years -- 38 years in the United States Senate and as South Carolina's governor, lieutenant governor and a member of the S.C. House of Representatives.

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