At 12:30, the bell was rung and President Shaun called the meeting to order. Cell phones were switched off.   American members pledged allegiance to the flag. John Jackson gave the words of inspiration, reminding us of the virtue of humility.  John also made available copies of his book about his father’s long ministry as a pastor and teacher.    
 
Secretary Tim Hurd introduced the guests of Rotarians
  • Igor Samac, Senior Program Officer, IRD, guest of Andy Koval
  • Lauren Corbett, intern at IRD, guest of Andy Koval
  • Weiqing Feng, Architect, Vesta Nova Architects, guest of the Club
  • Alejandro Garcia, student at American University, son of a Panama Rotary PP, guest of Clara Montanez
  • Daid Ryfisch, Inter-American Development Bank, of the DC Rotaract Club
  • Terrance Lovelady, Relationship Manager at PNC Private Bank, guest of Dr Sam Hancock
  • Ruth Chervil, CEO of a Law Enforcement firm, guest of Dr Sam Hancock
  • Lord Kinomorsa Divers, CEO of Kitalk LLC, guest of Dr Sam Hancock
  • Jack Coulter, President, Mobile Sciences LLC, guest of Dr Sam Hancock
  • Marc T. Pierre,  CEO of the Gospel Assembly in Queens,  guest of Dr Sam Hancock

Visiting Rotarians from Overseas:

  •  Dr. Yilmaz Domanca, Bornova Rotary Club, Izmir, Turkey
  • Andre Leger of Versailles, France, and his wife, Annie
  • Daniel Bahr of the Rotary Club of Munster, Germany

Visiting American Rotarian:

  • Larry Dreiling, a magazine editor from Hays, Kansas
  • Jim Lanning, Silver Spring

 

Sergeant at Arms David Treadwell gave the birthday announcements:

  • Maria-Nelly Pavisich, April 8:  Co-Chair of the International Service Committee Maria-Nelly joined in 2011, and was sponsored by Sam Hancock. Her classification is International Development. She is a Past President of the Rotary Club of Amboro, Brazil.
  • Francis Muraya, April 10:  Francis joined in 2013, and has been on assignment in Africa for the past several months. His classification is International Development: Programs. He was sponsored by David Klaus.
  • Nancy Riker,  April 10:  Nancy was sponsored by William Dent when she joined in 2010. She has co-chaired the Dictionary Project for the last several years and currently serves on  the Board. Her classification is Services: Meeting Planning.

In announcements:

  • District Governor Peter Kyle, visiting the club, gave a strong pitch for attendance at the District Conference.  He highlighted the planned street party near Camden Yards, and the Wounded Warriors sponsorships and promised the event would be the best ever since PP Larry Margolis’ conference.
  • The DC Past Presidents are Silver Sponsors of the Conference.
  • Walter Reed Bingo will be held Thursday, April 17 at a new location in Bethesda, the USO building. Pre-register with Shelton Williams.
  • President Shaun presented Susan Pausky with her blue badge.

Haleh Vaziri then introduced our speaker, Dr. John Gannon, who she said epitomizes public service.

John C. Gannon is Vice President for Mission Technology at CENTRA Technology and adjunct professor of national security at Georgetown University. Dr. Gannon is a 20-year CIA veteran who  held senior posts throughout the intelligence community. He served as staff director for the House Select Committee on Homeland Security. Prior to that, he headed the White House team that created the Department of Homeland Security Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection Directorate. As chairman of the National Intelligence Council, Gannon advised the president's national security team on top-priority functional and global issues. Dr. Gannon was the CIA's deputy director for intelligence from 1995 to 1997, supervising all of the agency's analysts and overseeing the preparation of the President's Daily Brief. The former naval officer and Vietnam veteran was awarded the National Security Medal.

Dr.  Gannon then took the podium and expressed grateful admiration for the service Rotary performs around the world.  He said that his speech would be an assessment of the war in Iraq, from the perspective that 12 years has brought us – what are the facts, what have we learned.

He summarized the initial aims of the war:  to rid Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, and to break links it had to Al Qaeda and 9/11.  They forecast that the effort would take five or six months to compete, that it would cost $70 billion, our forces would be hailed as liberators and that casualties would be low. Then Iraq would be a showcase for democracy in the Middle East, and the US would be relieved of some of our reliance on Saudi Arabia

And what actually happened, Dr Gannon asked?  After the invasion, planning and implementation were more difficult than expected and there were breakdowns.  .  Aluminum tubes turned out not to be for uranium enrichment.  Yellowcake ore in Niger?  Not true.  Bin Laden partnership?  Not credible.  Chemical, biological and nuclear weapons?  Invalid claims with no believable evidence.  It was a tense time, Dr. Gannon said.  Lots went wrong.

And where are we now?  The cost of the Iraq War is over $1 trillion, without counting the future costs of caring for veterans and their families.  4,890 Americans were killed and 35,000 injured.  180,000 Iraqis lost their lives.  The story of Reconstruction is not a proud one for the US, he said, though he is proud of the most recent Iraq elections.  Iraq is a fragile, unstable state.  Iran is stronger. The influence of the US is diminished in the region.  The confidence of our allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia, was shaken.  The destructive polarization of Congress partially stems from the war.  The budget impact has been a big drain and affects our ability to fund future projects.

The figurative can that has been kicked down the road is running out of road, he said. It’s not possible to fight poverty and wars at the same time.  The problems of military intervention are clear. History will judge the Iraq invention and we will learn good lessons from it, he hopes.

In questions and answers, his criticism of Congress was sharper.  There are unreflective members who don’t do their homework, and who could be less partisan, he asserts. 

He ruefully recalled Colin Powell’s briefing of Congress, which proved false.

He called the 2005 recognition of “A Responsibility to Protect” a statement of high moral principles, difficult to implement. 

He said Richard Cheney was an easy-going Secretary of Defense, but a dour and aggressive Vice President.  But in the whole speech and answer period, Dr Gannon declined to blame or make judgments. 

President Shaun presented the tree planting certificate.

Brendan McGinnis brought up the raffle bucket, with a $41 small pot and a significant $723 large pot.  Greeter Buz Gorman had Eric Fraint's (who had to leave early) winning ticket, and then drew the Ace of Spades for the big win! Cheerful news after a depressing speech.

The Hospitality Table was staffed by Ted Hamady, Balraj Gupta and Stu Shalloway, and the greeters were Buz Gorman and Liz Salett.

The meeting adjourned at 1:30 pm.