President elect Barack Obama most probably will announce the appointment of Robert Gates to be his Secretary of Defense. This decision will undoubtedly lead to complaints by many people who believed in electing Obama they were sending a message the current leaders of our Iraq-Afghanistan policy had to be replaced. However, there is some logic in the decision to retain a moderate Republican in office given that he has moved sharply away from previous behaviors by Donald Rumsfeld. Gates has made clear he is open to discussions with a variety of leaders in the Middle East and understands the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan can not be won solely by reliance on military action.
The key point in selecting Gates must be the acceptance by the secretary of defense that he now serves the Obama administration and must be in accord with its goals. If he can work in this manner, his retention adds a sense of continuity in what is going right as well as a recognition there must be change in the coming months. The first point will be whether or not US troops begin withdrawing next year and continue that process in the following year. The goal must be 2011 for the majority of soldiers being out of Iraq.
Posted in 2008 Elections, Barack Obama, Democrats, George Bush, Human Rights, Military, Multicultural, Peace, Politics, Republicans, United States, US Foreign Policy, War, World News
Tagged Afghanistan, Gates, Iraq, Obama
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates continued blaming Russia as the culprit in recent events in Georgia while conveniently ignoring the role played by Bush actions which helped to precipitate the violence. He accused Russia of “mauling and menacing small democracies” but did acknowledge contemporary Russia was not the same threat to world peace as the former Soviet Union. He also warned Russian leaders they may have achieved a Pyrrhic victory which will cost their nation in the long run. In his view, Medvedev and Putin were trying to “recapture past glory along with past territory” but it will be a costly venture into returning to olden days and tactics. “In reality, Russia’s policies are born of a grievance-based desire to dominate its near abroad, not an ideology based effort to dominate the globe.”
At no point did Gates acknowledge that Bush plans to construct missile bases on the border of Russia might have been interpreted as an act of aggression. At not point did the Republican leader admit it was Georgia’s rash actions which created the problem.
Posted in George Bush, Human Rights, Multicultural, Peace, Politics, Republicans, Russia, US Foreign Policy, War, World News
Tagged Gates, Georgia, Russia
Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen told Congress the pieces are all in place to gain victory in Iraq, but the prospect for Afghanistan is somewhat different. Admiral Mullen put it this way, “I am not convinced we’re winning in Afghanistan. I am convinced we can.” Gates assured Congress, “no matter what you think about the origins of the war in Iraq, we must get the end game there right. I believe we have now entered that end games.” Both men emphasized “we did not compromise one war for the other.” Their comments raise more questions than provide answers. How can Gates and Mullen ignore the reality that the war in Afghanistan in 2001 had the Taliban on the run and completely disorganized, but troops were withdrawn from that conflict to deal with the new war in Iraq. Of course, one war WAS compromised for the other!
Mullen admits the United States is not winning in Afghanistan, but offers no rationale as to why we should be able to gain victory. Of course, a fundamental problem is the use of the word “victory” in either place. What exactly constitutes “victory?” There were no militants in Iraq in 2003 and now there are thousands. There was no al-Qaeda presence in Algeria in 2003, but now, due to the war in Iraq, there is a new North Africa al-Qaeda.
Afghanistan is not Iraq, it is mountainous, a large narcotics trade which funds insurgents, political instability in neighboring Pakistan, and a serious division within the nation arising not merely from the Taliban, but from tribal chieftains and cliques. What would “victory” look like in Afghanistan?
Posted in 2008 Elections, Asia, Conservatives, Democrats, Human Rights, Liberals, Military, Muslims, Peace, Politics, Republicans, United States, US Foreign Policy, War, World News
Tagged Afghanistan, Gates, Iraq, Mullen