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Robert Gates on Principles & Values

Secretary of Defense-Designee


OpEd: non-ideological guy lent impression of bipartisanship

For months Obama had worked to convince Robert Gates to stay on a secretary of defense. Gates provided continuity on Iraq, where he agreed with the Obama policy of withdrawal; he was a veteran of three Republican administrations which lent an impression of bipartisanship that Obama considered essential: he offered political cover for tough decisions on canceling weapons systems and otherwise standing up to the military brass; and he was known as a decent, nonideological guy who had learned something from his mistakes as a cold war hard-liner.

Nobody in the Obama circle much cared that Gates had been tarnished by the Iran-Contra affair in the 1980s and by his record as CIA director, where on his watch the CIA added to an already long list of intelligence failures by not predicting the Soviet collapse. A bigger hurdle was that in 2008 he gave a speech saying he wouldn't push the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty without upgrading the warheads on U.S. missiles, thereby undermining the treaty.

Source: The Promise: Obama Year One, by Jonathan Alter, p. 48 , May 18, 2010

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Page last updated: Jul 05, 2014