The former Defense Secretary: Indignant, effective, and often wrong.
Robert Gates was one of the most effective secretaries of defense in recent history. He was also one of the most restrained—until now.
A scoop about Robert Gates' criticisms of Obama says more about Woodward than anyone else.
A new idea to limit drone strikes could actually legitimize them
On Sunday, Robert Gates, the former Pentagon chief for Presidents Obama and Bush, endorsed an idea that has been floated by Democratic lawmakers in the wake of John O. Brennan's confirmation hearings to be CIA Director: a drone court that would review the White House’s targeted killings of American citizens linked to al Qaida.
Four months after American submarines began launching missiles and U.S. pilots began flying sorties, does anyone, perhaps even including President Obama, really know what we are trying to do in Libya? It is true that, compared to Afghanistan, a major war whose outcome is generally agreed to hang in the balance, and to Iraq, from which we have not yet completely withdrawn, and even to Somalia and Yemen, where the tempo of our counterinsurgency operations have been steadily increasing, both directly and by proxy, Libya may seem minor.
As the date for a long-promised drawdown in Afghanistan nears, debate is swirling. Many Democrats are urging a significant withdrawal, while most Republicans and U.S. military leaders warn that doing so will endanger recent gains. Outgoing Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has cautioned that the United States “shouldn’t let up on the gas too much.” “We’ve made a lot of headway,” he said during a recent visit to Afghanistan, “but we have a ways to go.” But this debate misses the point.
Moments after signing the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in December of last year, President Obama looked up to a cheering crowd, smiled, and announced, “This is done.” But last week’s news that the Air Force had discharged an airman in April on the basis of his sexuality indicates that the abhorrent policy lives on. In the face of the resulting media firestorm, the Pentagon quickly released a statement implying that its hands were tied: The airman had voluntarily outed himself, and then asked that his discharge be expedited.
The U.S. war in Iraq has just been given an unexpected seal of approval. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, in what he billed as his “last major policy speech in Washington,” has owned up to the gains in Iraq, to the surprise that Iraq has emerged as “the most advanced Arab democracy in the region.” It was messy, this Iraqi democratic experience, but Iraqis “weren’t in the streets shooting each other, the government wasn’t in the streets shooting its people,” Gates observed.
On March 17, the U.N. Security Council voted to authorize “all necessary measures” to stop an impending massacre of Libyan civilians. Before long, a narrative had emerged explaining how President Obama had become enmeshed in another major conflict. According to this version of events, a heated debate had occurred between the administration’s realists—Defense Secretary Robert Gates, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, and his deputy, Denis McDonough—and its interventionists: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; the genocide scholar turned foreign policy adviser Samantha Power; and the U.S.