Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Gates Makes His Case to Stay on at Defense

While we're not huge fans of some of his earlier work, we bear a grudging respect for what Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has been doing--and saying--as of late. It's too bad the Republicans went out and found a Secretary of Defense who, essentially, rips the guts out of every argument John McCain and his surrogates have been making this year.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates warned yesterday against the risk of a "creeping militarization" of U.S. foreign policy, saying the State Department should lead U.S. engagement with other countries, with the military playing a supporting role.

"We cannot kill or capture our way to victory" in the long-term campaign against terrorism, Gates said, arguing that military action should be subordinate to political and economic efforts to undermine extremism.

I can't wait for the outcry--Secretary Gates has basically undercut the rationale for staying in Iraq, effectively debunking the myth that if we don't fight them over there, we'll end up having to fight them over here. He has put the onus on Secretary Rice, who has never been up to the task. Her State Department is a shambles, with hundreds of key positions unfilled for months and years.

Every time McCain talks about attacking Iran, staying in Iraq, or using war as the instrument of our foreign policy--he should be hammered with this quote from Gates. McCain's manly boast about "I know how to win wars" should have been met with laughter and derision. Instead, the Man Crush continues.

We don't need another Richard Cohen type situation--Gates should not be kept by a possible Obama administration, if only because we need to develop Democrats who can effectively lead on defense issues.

[h/t to Juan Cole]


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