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Benko: Give Jim Gilmore His Due

Our friend Ralph Benko, the economist, Reagan administration official and Forbes columnist had some very kind words for former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore that are especially worthy of consideration now that Gilmore has left the race for the Republican nomination for President. 

Benko, now the American Principles Project’s Senior Advisor on Economics says Governor Gilmore was very much underrated because, of all the GOP contenders for President, Gilmore is the only one with real world intelligence experience. 

Jim GilmoreGilmore was a successful supply-side governor of Virginia says Benko. He served as the chairman of the Republican National Committee in 2001, as governor of Virginia from 1998 – 2002 (previously having served as Attorney General) and was president of the Republican Governors Association. He also served as chairman of two important federal commissions. Since leaving office, has been an important voice in the policy universe for economic growth. He, also, is a reliable social conservative and NRA board member. 

But, observes Benko, of perhaps even greater significance, Gilmore served in the 650th Military Intelligence Group as a U.S. Army counterintelligence agent in West Germany during the Cold War. This gives him unique credentials as a Cold War veteran, and an intimate sense for national security operations. 

Benko says although it would embarrass him were he to read this let it be said: Jim Gilmore is an authentic Cold War hero. 

During the height of the Cold War, before Ronald Reagan finally turned the tide, Benko pointed out that there was an elite consensus that the Soviets could not be confronted but only contained. The doctrine of “containment” defined US policy. 

There was, however, a small but passionate faction that believed otherwise. They pushed for the creation, inside the CIA, of what became known as “Team B.” 

“Team B” was a competitive analysis exercise commissioned to analyze threats the Soviet Union posed to the security of the United States. The purpose was to put a fresh set of eyes on the same data that analysts within the intelligence community were studying. The intelligence community was in the process of putting together an assessment on the Soviet threat while the Team B panel of outside experts produced its own assessment. 

Team B, approved by then Director of Central Intelligence George H. W. Bush, was composed of “outside experts” who concluded that the National Intelligence Estimate on the Soviet Union, generated yearly by the CIA, underestimated Soviet military power and misinterpreted Soviet strategic intentions. 

Let it be noted in passing that George H. W. Bush thereby played a critical role in America’s victory in the Cold War and deserves more credit for that than has yet been provided. 

The Team B reports became the intellectual foundation for the idea of a “window of vulnerability” and of the massive arms buildup that began toward the end of the Carter administration and accelerated under President Ronald Reagan. 

“Team B” turned out to be critical to the putting the U.S. on the road to victory in the Cold War. 

Gilmore’s front line experience in the intelligence community claims Benko very likely makes him more attuned to the process by which America won the Cold War than is any other 2016 presidential aspirant. The process by which America won the Cold War is important for countering the national security threats posed by Daesh (a.k.a. ISIS) today says Benko.  

And that invaluable experience was largely ignored by the media and the pundits while Jim Gilmore was campaigning. 

In Ralph Benko’s analysis Jim Gilmore is a good, maybe even great, man. His failure to rise in the polls this year may be due to his personally becoming — yet politically toxic — level of humility. He did not brag on his credentials, but his credentials are stunningly great. 

Jim Gilmore is a man of enormous dignity, towering accomplishment, and splendid national service. Hs departure from the race for president does not diminish the great respect in which we hold him.

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Gilmore's campaign

This article highlights well the brokenness of the entire Presidential campaign process. Originally candidates didn't run for this office. Electors picked who they thought would be the best person for the position. Now it requires huge amounts of money and all kinds of connections. Somebody, either the government or the media, needs to look at the people who want to run for President, and if somebody is seen to be well qualified, then see that this candidate becomes known to the public. The media shouldn't wait until three fourths of the candidates have dropped out due to lack of money before they seriously start covering them. They also should be more responsible in their coverage. They focus on all the wrong things, taking a three second clip out of a two hour Trump speech, and that is all we hear.

On the trail with Gov Gilmore in NH

My wife and I are friends with Gilmore's NH campaign manager, Anne Smith, and I was invited to cover his NH filing as well as a subsequent national security presentation. Closer scrutiny showed me a humble, yet remarkable, gentleman.
The Governor is accomplished and well rounded - he deserves your attention, and he deserves a senior position in any Republican administration. See for yourself:

Full disclosure - I am a Cruz supporter, but I feel that Gilmore deserves more recognition.