Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Decision to Keep Robert Gates

President-elect Obama's decision to keep Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense is both a solid military move and political move.

In the face of two wars, the transition from President Bush to President Obama is easier for the Pentagon knowing that Gates will remain on the job for one more year.

Second, knowing there will be continuity in Iraq policy and knowing that Gates shares his belief that Afghanistan should be the true focus of our war on terror, allows Obama to focus more attention on pressing domestic concerns.

Third, this is a smart move politically because it ensures there will be at least one Republican in his Cabinet. This will potentially neuter future conservative criticism of Obama's Iraq/Afghanistan policy because it will still be a Republican running these wars for the forseeable future.

The big problem, of course, is that the anti-war wing of the Democratic Party, will feel let down that Obama isn't making a more concerted effort to immediately withdraw troops from Iraq. This is a misguided belief. The United States and Iraq have reached an understanding that U.S. troops will be (mostly) gone by 2011. Obviously, this wouldn't meet Obama's 16-month timetable, but it is a reasonable compromise between the get-out-now anti-war left and the "stay as long as it takes" foreign policy hawks.


rikyrah said...


ICAM. If there is one thing where I wanted a Republican attached to - it's the Iraq War. It's why I was ok with Gates, or I wanted Hagel. I wanted a GOP face with this War.

Brian said...


This was Dr. Marvin King's post.

But I mostly agree... I am one of those folks who was against the war in Iraq...but I also knew...(as I have been mentioning since at least 2006) that Obama's timetable was not going to be actually achieved.

Gates is a moderate...and he has shown a willingness to think before acting. I had expected Gates to stay on for a while.

But it also gives an indication that Obama will be handing over his foreign policy to hawks... (yes... Gates is still a hawk by comparison to a more Progressive "Change" foreign policy). With Gates, Clinton, Jones, and the rest of the foreign policy staff... We are looking at a status quo foreign policy for the foreseeable future. NOT the new direction that was promised. With only a few exceptions, they will continue the foreign policy of the Bush Administration and the Clinton Administration before that. There will be a few cosmetic changes...perhaps the closing of Gitmo... but the core of the U.S. foreign policy will remain on the same disastrous, counterproductive, aggressive course that it's been on for the last 50 years, especially for the last decade.

Again... although this is not necessarily a horrible pick and in many ways it's a sensible one.... it is still an example of more of the "Change" promises not being met.

If I would have invested in Snake Oil stock before November 4th... I could be a very wealthy man right now... because there were about 68 million purchases made in one night.