Morning Report: November 9, 2006

The new face of war. The US gets a new defense chief, and a terrorist group picks a new set of targets. Off the coast of India, Davy Jones may be guarding some interesting secrets.

Bush accepts Rumsfeld's resignation, names CIA's Robert Gates as Defense Secretary. The Belmont Club links Austin Bay: ' I think the resignation wasn’t entirely contingent on the election– though the Democratic win made Rumsfeld resignation a certainty. Robert Gates (currently president of Texas A&M University) has worked with James Baker on the “War on Terror” strategy evaluation. The Baker ”bi-partisan” political fall-back position for prosecuting the war was already in the works. ... One of the very smart young officers I know suggests the resignation is political prep for prosecuting the war even more vociferously. I think he’s on to something.' Debka: 'In his first statement after the mid-term election, the US President said he and Rumsfeld had agreed it was time for new leadership at the Pentagon and a fresh perspective needed for the Iraqi war. He praised the departing secretary. “I understand many Americans yesterday voiced their displeasure with the Iraq situation. But we cannot accept defeat. Defeat is not an option in Iraq. Our enemies should not see this as weakness. The people of Iraq can be sure America will stand by you. If we leave Iraq before the job is down, our country will be more at risk.”' In from the Cold has this:
Regarding Mr. Gates, he is a good man but the wrong one for the job. He spent most of his professional life at the CIA before retiring and becoming the President of Texas A&M University. Robert Gates certainly knows the intelligence end of military affairs, but his expertise ends there. Moreover, his management skills as DCI weren't particularly impressive, and as an analyst, he was part of a CIA team that consistently got it wrong on their assessments of the former Soviet Union. Dr. Gates is a very bright man and strikes me as a shoo-in confirmation, someone with no ties to the current Pentagon regime. That's probably a necessity in today's political climate, but that doesn't make him the right choice for DoD.

Greyhawk cites Gates' links with Zbigniew Brzezinski, the Council on Foreign Relations, and a book calling for a "new approach" on Iran. ThreatsWatch:
The nomination of Gates likely telegraphs President Bush’s intent to implement one of the Baker Commission’s options (formally known as the Iraq Study Group) for the future of Iraq. ... The outlook for Jihadis just got decidedly better. The outlook for Iraqis is frightening.

Stratfor (subscription) sees Rumsfeld's failing as one of flexibility:
... he refused to shift course in midstream. Rumsfeld was designing a military that could defeat state power by the precise applications of force while minimizing the exposure of U.S. forces; but the U.S.-jihadist war brought to the table a foe that thrived in chaotic regions where state control was weak or nonexistent. Rumsfeld's plan could overturn the Taliban or Saddam Hussein's government, but it could not muster the manpower necessary to impose order on the resulting chaos.

The analysis concludes that 'Gates is a placeholder -- a competent placeholder for sure, but a placeholder nonetheless.' (various)

Hamas: Threat of attacks on Americans. Counterterrorism Blog: 'n the wake of reports that an Israeli tank strike killed 18 people in the Gaza Strip, Hamas' military wing issued a call for Muslims around the world to attack American targets. This is dangerous for several reasons. One is that Hamas has a broad financial infrastructure inside the United States and enjoys some support among parts of the U.S. Islamic community, so there would be little need infiltrate operators. There could be people already here willing to carry out such attacks. A second reason is that Hamas has traditionally not advocated attacks on the United States. But this call by the Hamas military wing is unambiguous: "America is offering political, financial and logistic cover for the Zionist occupation crimes, and it is responsible for the Beit Hanoun massacre. Therefore, the people and the nation all over the globe are required to teach the American enemy tough lessons," Hamas' military wing said in a statement sent to The Associated Press.' At his blog, Douglas Farah adds that 'this is worrisome because Hamas is a direct offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Brotherhood offers Hamas a worldwide network for moving money, maintaining secure communications links and moving weapons.' The fact that the statement does not distinguish between Sunni and Shi'a Muslims is in keeping with the Muslim Brotherhood's ecumenical approach. (CTB, Douglas Farah)

India intercepts Iran-bound North Korea freighter. ThreatsWatch:
A North Korean ship bound for Iran has been detained and inspected in India according to the Mumbai Mirror. Having run into mechanical problems and become disabled, the North Korean freighter apparently drifted into Indian waters where it was boarded and then towed to Bombay docks. The ship, however, was empty when Indian crews reached it.

“What is most suspicious is the fact that though it is a cargo ship, they are not carrying any consignment or goods,” said a Coast Guard officer. The authorities are now examining the freighter to find if any contraband is hidden somewhere.

TW concludes: 'If the Titanic can be found on the ocean’s floor, perhaps a more curious payload now lies on the floor of the Indian Ocean near where this ship broke down. It’s likely a matter of the will to discover it.' Read the full article at the link. (ThreatsWatch)

Poll: Americans support Israel, sanctions on Iran. Vital Perspective: 'The Israel Project Bipartisan POS/Greenberg poll on Israel and Iran shows that Americans overwhelmingly support taking action against Iran if it continues to bar IAEA inspectors from its nuclear facilities, as well as continued support for Israel as opposed to the Palestinians.' Facts and figures at the link. (VP)

Commentary. An election is a snapshot; an appointment is but a hastily drawn sketch. The true picture is drawn and redrawn daily by the people whose lives make, and are made by, the course of human events. New faces in Congress and the Defense Department matter; but what matters more is the mind, the will, and the soul of the people. It is there that the Long War will be won.