Star Spangled Security

Star Spangled Security: Applying Lessons Learned over Six Decades Safeguarding America

Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 277
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  • Book Info
    Star Spangled Security
    Book Description:

    Harold Brown served as U.S. secretary of defense when the Soviet Union posed an existential threat with superior conventional force capability and a daunting nuclear weapons arsenal. No one could have been better suited to deter the Soviets during that most dangerous period in the Cold War.

    A physicist, Brown had previously led Livermore Laboratory and its development of the Polaris missile warhead. By age 33 he was director of Defense Research and Engineering, and he later served as secretary of the U.S. Air Force early in the Vietnam War.

    In the Carter administration, Brown reinvigorated the NAT O alliance, promoted AWACs, increased U.S. conventional force capabilities, and developed a new generation of nuclear weapons and delivery systems. As a senior negotiator of SALT II, he also helped set their limits.

    Brown was the first American secretary of defense to visit China; as principal interlocutor he forged military-to-military relations. During his tenure, the Soviets invaded Afghanistan; the Iranian revolution resulted in the capture of American hostages; President Carter achieved the Camp David Peace Accords; and the Panama Canal Treaties -that still protect U.S. interests -were rewritten. Brown's role in each was integral.

    Star Spangled Securityprovides lessons from the past to inform the future: from Afghanistan to Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons; from international alliances and interests the U.S. needs to consider in a changing world to specific ideas for jumpstarting technological innovation that could boost American security and our economy today. Based on his twelve years of top-tier government service and nearly fifty more as a president of Caltech, a board member of a dozen corporations, the chair of recent, comprehensive studies of Chinese military capability, U.S. Intelligence, and technological innovation, and as the past chair and a current member of the Defense Policy Board that advises sitting secretaries of defense, Brown offers wise counsel to any American voter as well as to aspiring leaders.

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-2383-7
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xviii)

    It was raining the day of the Joint Armed Forces Farewell Ceremony that signaled the end of my service as secretary of defense, and that of my deputy secretary, W. Graham Claytor Jr.

    General David Jones hosted the farewell program on Monday, January 19, 1981, at Fort Myer, Virginia. I had chosen Dave, an air force general, to be chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. That choice troubled some. It didn’t follow the usual practice of rotation among the services. His predecessor had also come from the air force. Some people grumbled that I picked a “purple-suiter.” They meant...

  5. 1 Oh, Say Can You See THE VIEW FROM THE TOP
    (pp. 1-5)

    I watched more than a dozen atmospheric nuclear tests, all of them before I became secretary of defense. Only one other secretary of defense (Charlie Wilson) may have seen one. I wanted to see the work of which I’d been part and to make sure the devices did work. At a test in 1956 of a ten-megaton thermonuclear weapon, I was billeted in a cabin on Eniwetok while the test ran on Bikini, 200 miles away. I was in my late twenties. The test occurred an hour before sunrise. The sky was pitch black. In the Marshall Islands, so close...

    (pp. 6-37)

    The Preamble to the U.S. Constitution states that the purpose of our government is to “provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” The general welfare includes economic growth, standard of living, jobs, education, and health care. Promoting general welfare entails avoiding or at least limiting class or culture warfare, controlling crime, and minimizing terrorism. Providing for the common defense means deterring war by letting enemies and allies see you’re ready to defend American territory and suitably defined American interests, and you’re able, if necessary, to fight to...

    (pp. 38-73)

    A joke goes that when a new secretary of defense takes office he finds three envelopes in his desk that were left by his predecessor. They’re to be opened when he gets into trouble. There’s a crisis. The new secretary of defense opens the first envelope. The letter inside says: “Blame the other political party.” And he does. There’s another crisis a year later. He opens the second envelope. Its letter says: “Blame the media.” A third crisis happens. He opens the last envelope. That letter says: “Prepare three envelopes.”

    Friends come and go in Washington; enemies accumulate. Four years...

    (pp. 74-85)

    Shortly after becoming president, Jimmy Carter made a world tour in 1977 to the “regional influentials,” as Zbigniew Brzezinski referred to them. Carter toasted Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi and called Iran “an island of stability.” But the stability that Carter and Brzezinski thought they saw in 1977 had eroded badly during 1978. Islamic militants, joined by laborers and much of the commercial class (the “bazaaris”), had rejected the shah’s modernization efforts and policies. I recall taking a call from Deputy Defense Secretary Charles Duncan while he was in Iran. He told me he was unable to get outside his hotel...

  9. 5 Rockets’ Red Glare and Bombs PLANS, PROGRAMS, AND AGREEMENTS
    (pp. 86-134)

    In October 1961 the Soviet Union exploded a thermonuclear bomb at its Siberian site with no notice of any kind. At 50 megatons, it was the largest bomb ever exploded, then or since. Its explosive energy was 3,200 times that of the Hiroshima bomb and sounded, one faraway observer said, as if the Earth had been killed.¹ The shock wave traveled around the planet three times before it dissipated.

    A bomb that big could not be delivered at intercontinental range by aircraft or missile. It was so enormous that it protruded from the plane that carried it and required a...

  10. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  11. 6 The Ramparts We Watched DEALING WITH THE OUTSIDE WORLD
    (pp. 135-182)

    One month after taking office as secretary of defense I turned my attention to NATO. My hope and priority were the same: to reinvigorate the alliance. By 1977 the focus of U.S. foreign policy had shifted from Vietnam to Europe, where the Soviet Union and the United States faced off and where Soviet conventional force strength was generally agreed to be far superior to ours. Though I thought that superiority might be exaggerated, it was indeed real. Even if that had not been the case, the perception of Soviet conventional force strength mattered in the political relations among the United...

  12. 7 That Banner Yet Waves PREPARING FOR WHAT LIES AHEAD
    (pp. 183-213)

    In January 1981, at the end of the Carter presidency, White House counsel Lloyd Cutler hosted a dinner at the F Street Club for the president, cabinet, and a few other senior members of the administration. Each person got up and said something about his or her experience. When it was my turn, I made two comments. One was that I had tried to do my best but realized I had sometimes made the president uncomfortable. In particular, I’d pushed for a higher defense budget, as he notes in his bookWhite House Diary, when that was politically difficult.


    (pp. 214-232)

    I write this book on the brink of the 2012 presidential election. A highly polarized House of Representatives has been debating whether, on the assumption that no increase in taxes can be allowed, to cut another $50 billion next year from military spending and as much from various domestic programs that provide Medicaid, food stamps, and other benefits for poor Americans. If so, the cut next year would be the first installment of a ten-year sequestration. Whether that outcome proceeds is unclear, but the issues remain: what, if any, tax revenues will be increased; what, if any, entitlements will be...

  14. 9 Home of the Brave AMERICA AT A TIPPING POINT
    (pp. 233-242)

    Perhaps when people of my age and Brzezinski’s express concern about possible national decline, our views are influenced by identifying our own physical decline with national decline. The truth is that America is still second to none. Our military power, coupled with that of our allies, is unmatched by any combination of nations on earth. Our allies are allies by choice.

    Those who hold high positions have a solemn obligation to tell the American people the truth about national security. Sometimes the truth is palatable; sometimes it is not. It has been my experience in government that when confronted not...

    (pp. 243-250)

    When my years of full-time government service ended in 1981, I embarked on a thirty-year career in the corporate and educational sectors. I’ve been a corporate director of more than a dozen businesses, including Mattel, IBM, and Cummins Engine, and an outside consultant to about as many. I’ve also been a trustee of about ten nonprofit organizations. The firms of which I’ve been a corporate director have included high-tech, consumer, industrial, biotech, and financial establishments. My consulting has served U.S. and European industrial and financial firms, and I’ve been a partner at the private equity firm Warburg Pincus, where I...

  16. NOTES
    (pp. 251-260)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 261-276)
    (pp. 277-278)
    Joyce Winslow
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 279-279)