Tag Archives: Gates

Secretary Gates On Bush And Obama

The United States has a new president whom most Republicans believed would not support the military and would act in an indecisive manner once in office. Secretary of Defense was asked on “Meet The Press” to compare the two men in terms of style. Gates noted, “I think that President Obama is somewhat more analytical. And, he makes sure he hears from everybody in the room on an issue. And, if they don’t speak up, he calls on them.” Gates believes that Bush was “interested in hearing different points of view, but didn’t go out of his way to make sure that everybody spoke if they hadn’t spoken before.” Of course, another major difference is that Bush wanted to be surrounded by “yes” people who knew it was wise to repeat back what the leader had said or face the consequence of not being allowed in his presence.

Admiral Mullen commented that President Obama was “anxious to get the military’s input to all his decisions.” In the lead up to the disastrous invasion of Iraq, many American military leaders insisted they lacked sufficient troops in order to control Iraq but Bush listened to the noted military expert, Don Rumsfeld, and the rest is history.

Gates To Remain As Secretary Of Defense

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.

US Furious At Russian Missiles But Calm About Ours

Five years ago, President Bush informed the United States and the world that Saddam Hussein had WMD which would be fired at the West. He used the argument America must shoot first to protect itself against an alleged attack. Today, George Bush insists Iran has missiles that it wants to fire at Europe which necessitates placing missile bases on the border of Russia to protect Europe against an attack that is not planned and never will occur. Russia, in retaliation, has deployed its missiles near Kaliningrad which has upset Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. He termed the action “provocative” and insisted the only threat facing Europe was from missiles originating in Iran. Gates and Bush and the entire Republican crowd believe there is a threat from “rogue states” like Iran which may one day obtain nuclear weapons and fire them at Europe.

The entire basis of US bases in Poland originates from the theory Iran either has or will get nuclear weapons and, then, for some strange reason, fire them at Western Europe. A simple question to which Bush has no answer is–why would Iran fire missiles at Europe? What exactly would be their goal? Iranian leaders are not stupid. They understand sending missiles into Europe would result in nuclear weapons being fired by Great Britain and France which possess those weapons. But, the essential question remains, what would ever lead Iran to initiate a war against the European Union?

Secretary Of Defense Admits Families Face Stress

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates admitted families of those fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan are encountering serious stress. He also recognized stress on military men and women impacted families back home and had many personal ramifications within family members. “We obviously want to stop all kinds of violence among our soldiers and their families.” There is increasing fear stress has led to serious crimes and even death. An important factor is the extent of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and ways in which the military can assist members of the service to come forth and admit they are experiencing stress.

Perhaps, the greatest stress facing those in combat is being sent back and forth from combat to home and back to combat. This creates uncertainty and confusion within a family and adds the element of uncertainty to the lives of people.

Gates Sort Of Apologizes For Cross Border Raids

The administration of George Bush has been quick to condemn Russia for invading Georgia after that nation made aggressive moves into Georgia, but the president has insisted the United States never sent troops into Pakistan, and, if they did, there was justification for crossing the border. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee when he was pushed by Senator Webb about US actions on the border of Pakistan. Webb asked if international law allowed the pursuit into another country that has been done by US forces even though the Bush government denies it ever happened. Gates insisted it was his responsibility to protect US troops and hinted they may well have crossed the border and entered Pakistan.

Gates blamed the Pakistan army for negotiating a truce with militants in the tribal regions and the result “created the opportunity for the Taliban to cross the border.” Senator Levin believes the Gates statement that “we will do what is necessary to protect our troops” was an unofficial acknowledgment Americans entered Pakistan.

War Of Words Between West And Russia

Dueling words have replaced dialogue as the conflict between Western nations and Russia over the Georgia incident continues to escalate. Fortunately, at this time both sides are using words in their conflict rather than armed force. US Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, warned Russia its actions would result in being isolated from the world while President Medvedev asserted his nation is not retreating into a war like stance but will continue working with other nations. Secretary of State Rice charged the Russian government has no friends other than leftist nations such as Venezuela and Cuba even as Medvedev made clear Russia was not returning to a Soviet Union sense of isolation from the world. He mocked NATO for being unable to provide support for Georgia during the crisis and sarcastically noted “NATO only provoked the conflict and nothing more than that.”

Charge and counter charges make headlines in the morning press but have nothing to do with resolving issues between nations. It is time for NATO to abandon Bush policies of deliberately provoking Russia and engage in comprehensive negotiations which would reduce Russian fears of being threatened by the West. In return there must be Russian evacuation of Georgia. It would help if Western leaders acknowledged the role played by Georgia in precipitating the entire conflict.

Secretary Gates Blasts Russia

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.

Gates — Time To Rethink Afghanistan Strategy

Seven years ago, the dynamic trio of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld directed an American invasion of Afghanistan which, ostensibly, was aimed at crushing the Taliban and capturing Osama bin Laden, dead or alive. Seven years have passed and the situation in 2008 is remarkable worse than it was in 2001. Ordinarily, when nations invade another nation it is based on a well thought out plan of action. But, in Bush America, the original plan invariably has major problems that are not discovered until thousands of people have died. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates noted yesterday, “you have an overall approach, an overall strategy, you adjust it based on the circumstances that you find. We did that in Iraq. We made a change in strategy in Iraq and we are going to continue to look at the situation in Afghanistan.”

For some reason, known only to President Bush, and his clique of incompetents, the initial invasion is never carried out by enough troops which leads to militants being able to organize and fight back. Years after militants have grown strong, Bush and his bunch of bozos finally grasp the point that more troops are needed. Actually, in 2003, the Joint Chiefs of Staff made that point about the Iraq invasion but were ignored. Sorry, John McCain, there is no record of you openly telling Bush he was wrong to disregard the advice of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Secretary Gates did get around to apologizing for American air attacks that resulted in the death of innocent civilians and urged military commanders to immediately apologize and then order an investigation rather than delaying to accept responsibility. This certainly is one shift in strategy that might assist in gaining support.

Unfortunately, it is now too late to shift strategy and gain quick victory. The Taliban are entrenched in mountains and have gained the support of large sectors of the civilian population. There is now need to investigate the possibility of using diplomacy in order to lessen violence.

Gates In Iraq As Bombs Explode

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates visited Baghdad as bombs exploded in the city causing the death of 12 and wounding of two dozen people. Levels of violence have declined in recent months by car bombings continue plaguing security in the capital. Gates is meeting with Iraq officials in order to discuss the future of America’s role in fighting militants. “There is no question we will still be engaged as we are, but the areas in which we are seriously engaged will, I think, continue to narrow.” The unresolved issue is how does the United States work
with an Iraqi government which already has angered thousands of Sunnis who cooperated with the Americans only to find themselves outcast by the Shiite government.

General Austin noted the situation is “still very fragile. Things could happen to turn things around.” That is always a danger when the government of Iraq leaves much to be desired in terms of its ability to cooperate with dissident groups.

Victory In Afghanistan? Mullen Says Mabe

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?