Thursday, January 9, 2014

Has Robert Gates Become One of Us?

By Daniel McAdams

Is former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates becoming a non-interventionist? Has he taken the hard road to conversion that begins with all faith in US power projection and coercive influence and ends up with frenzied and joyous clicking through the pages of LRC and RPI?  

That is probably being too optimistic -- though our doors are always open. Nevertheless there is much to fascinate in what we have seen from his new memoir -- and no, it's not the silly personality conflicts and "dissing" Obama with which the mainstream media is obsessed. 

For example, Secretary Gates writes (emphasis added):

Wars are a lot easier to get into than out of. Those who ask about exit strategies or question what will happen if assumptions prove wrong are rarely welcome at the conference table when the fire-breathers are demanding that we strike—as they did when advocating invading Iraq, intervening in Libya and Syria, or bombing Iran's nuclear sites. But in recent decades, presidents confronted with tough problems abroad have too often been too quick to reach for a gun. Our foreign and national security policy has become too militarized, the use of force too easy for presidents.

Today, too many ideologues call for U.S. force as the first option rather than a last resort. On the left, we hear about the "responsibility to protect" civilians to justify military intervention in Libya, Syria, Sudan and elsewhere. On the right, the failure to strike Syria or Iran is deemed an abdication of U.S. leadership. And so the rest of the world sees the U.S. as a militaristic country quick to launch planes, cruise missiles and drones deep into sovereign countries or ungoverned spaces. There are limits to what even the strongest and greatest nation on Earth can do—and not every outrage, act of aggression, oppression or crisis should elicit a U.S. military response.
It is a tried and true phenomenon that Washington insiders who enjoy power and prestige while in office will upon retirement tell us what they really thought, and how bad things really were. Often they toss political correctness and caution aside like a cheap coat. It is easy to deride such activity as being self-serving and even self-exculpatory. 

However there is also a reasonable argument, and perhaps it applies to fmr. Secretary Gates, that the only way to prevent the real crazies from taking over is to stick within the system and try to thwart the most dangerous of the other factions.

For an excellent example of the latter, we who follow the "cruise missile Left" stylings of Samantha Power can only applaud Gates as the "grown-up in the room" warning the Pentagon to keep as much information as possible away from "experts" like Power. In the run-up to the US attack on Libya he ordered his staff:

Read the rest here.


  1. "Has Robert Gates Become One of Us?"
    Not until he gives up his uber-compensated government check/pension, his state- dacha in the country, and complete non-subsidized ObamaCare enrollment will he be.

  2. "Let's hope Gates continues on his path and eventually finds himself in our camp,"

    The author is being more than a little bit delusional here. Gates is profoundly morally compromised for having done the bidding of two repulsive, dangerous and thoroughly untrustworthy Presidents. Good men don't do that, even in the service of their country. Gates needs to spend the rest of his life atoning for his sins and undoing all the damage he helped inflict on the nation and the world.