Tag Archives: Robert Gates

With Friends Like Gates, Obama Left At Gate Of Doubt

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates wrote a memo to President Obama in January which supposedly was a “wake up call” to get a plan of action on how to handle Iran if economic and political sanctions did not work. For some reason, this memo was leaked to the press and now Republicans are up in arms at failure of the Obama administration to have an effective plan of action for Iran. Of course, Gates served under President Bush and no one recalls any memo from him as a “wake up call” for a plan to deal with Iran. Bush rejected several opportunities to work with reform groups in Iran and the present group of yahoos who are shouting for action never raised their voices when Bush fouled up the Middle East.

Of course, any nation needs a backup plan in case economic and political maneuvers do not work out as desired. A military option would, in the end, result in devastation throughout the region. There are times when it pays to proceed one step at a time.

Fight War At Hand Or After Hand?

Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced his department’s abandonment of a long standing policy of the United States being able to confront simultaneously two major conventional wars. Gates says American must focus its attention on conflicts at hand, and worry less about conflicts that might emerge in the far distance. “We have learned through painful experience that the wars we fight are seldom the wars that we planned.” Dennis Blair, Director of National Intelligence, noted the United States and Russia had made considerable progress in reducing nuclear weapons and cooperating to avoid possible nuclear conflict. Therefore, one might pose, is the threat of nuclear war one that should be of major concern or should we be focusing on how some militants might gain access to nuclear devices that would be used for a single attack/

The review initiated by Gates concludes the US must balance resources and risk accoding to four key objectives. The first imperative is to prevail in today’;s wars, the second to prevent and deter conflicts, the third, to prepare the military for a wide range of contingencies, and finally to preserve and enhance America’s all volunteer force.

Should Military Advice Be Given In Private?

We inhabit a world of the Internet in which everything said to a president shortly finds its way to public scrutiny in the name of “openness.” The war in Iraq and Afghanistan is probably the first in American history in which whatever was discussed with the president invariably finds itself into the public domain. If anything said to the president is soon known to the public, does this hinder honesty in telling the commander-in-chief what should or should not be done? Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates recently argued that advice to the president, should be done “candidly and privately.” National Security Adviser, James Jones believes advice should “come up through the chain of command.”

We believe the president is entitled to receive information in private because that allows individuals to speculate and urge radical ideas without being subjected to ridicule. All ideas should be presented and to accomplish that goal it must be done privately to ensure honesty. There is a difference between exchanging ideas and implementing policy.

How Long In Afghanistan?

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates spoke to the media about how long will US forces be fighting in Afghanistan. He responded it was a mystery that involved a variety of possible clues that have yet to be thoroughly investigated. He mentioned a variety of variables that were in play in regard to the time required to finish whatever has to be done in Afghanistan. For example:

The ability of US and NATO forces to knock down violence levels.
Foreign Policy officers ability to help establish a sound government structure for Afghanistan.
Building a sound economy and creating jobs.
The outcome of the upcoming Afghan presidential election.

He thought the US might be able to achieve a solution to some of the mysteries in the coming year, but nothing is guaranteed. It is interesting that his list does not mention the emergence of a powerful Afghanistan army. I wonder why.

Perhaps, this is a case for Sherlock Holmes. After all, he couldn’t do any worse than those currently in charge of solving the mystery. On the other hand, perhaps, America should gird itself for fighting in Afghanistan in 2025. That would enable children of those fighting to share with dad and mom the opportunity to investigate the interesting sights of Afghanistan.

Secretary Gates Critical Of German Role In Afghanistan

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was sharply critical of efforts by Germany and several other NATO nations in supporting efforts in Afghanistan to defeat terrorism. He wants Germany to send more troops and supplies to the fighting in Afghanistan. Gates noted that German troops were located in northern regions, “in an area that does not have a lot of violence so the requirement on them to engage in combat has not been as that of us who are in the south and east.” German authorities denied the charges saying they were not justifiable.

The conflict is undoubtedly one that will continue for several months. Despite the presence of 50,000 American and NATO troops, the Taliban continues its policies of violence and intimidation in many areas of Afghanistan. German officials believe there is a lack of coherent strategy in dealing with the Taliban, and efforts to develop a well trained army and police force are years behind schedule. President Karzai and British officials have even suggested engaging in discussions with the Taliban in order to negotiate a diplomatic resolution of the conflict without engaging in further violence. Given, the apparent lack of enthusiasm for the current operation, this road might well be one to travel on.