secretary of defense

The Supreme Allied Commander of Corn
October 15, 2009

When the world last left Wesley Clark in early 2004, he was a streaking meteor of a presidential candidate. Still fresh from leading NATO in the Kosovo war, he arrived as a savior for the left, who saw a bulletproof patriot that the rest of America could believe in; hero of the netroots, beloved by Michael Moore and Madonna; hope of the Clintonites, delighted by such a clean ideological slate. Alas, after five blazing months, Clark for President flamed out. There are the conventional explanations: He got in too late. He didn't play in Iowa.

The Civilian Surge Myth
October 15, 2009

How can we snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in Afghanistan? There's one solution that has attracted analysts of all stripes: a "civilian surge," where development and political advisers working for (or contracted by) the State department and the U.S. Agency for International Development flood the country and turn the tide against the insurgents. The logic, at least, is sound: It takes more than military success to defeat insurgents. Insurgency grows where a corrupt and weak government does not provide security, justice, and opportunity.

Robert Gates: Believe It Or Not
September 27, 2009

The secretary of defense, Robert Gates, revealed two hush-hush secrets on television this morning. 1. that Iran intended to develop nuclear weapons. No shit! 2. that the matter of closing Guantanamo was "more complicated than we thought." Surprise, surprise. The first of these revelations is especially significant. What does it say about the president's adventures in sympatico diplomacy? This is hard to say: but I believe it's an utter failure.

Mcnamara's Other Legacy
July 07, 2009

As one would expect, coverage of Robert McNamara's death has focused on his management of the Vietnam war and his later reappraisal of its necessity, but the former secretary of defense left an equally important--and far more positive--legacy regarding U.S. nuclear policy. When McNamara joined the Kennedy administration in 1961, American nuclear "strategy" called for launching the entire nuclear arsenal--nearly 3,500 weapons--at the communist bloc if the Soviets made any move against Western Europe. This approach had severe flaws.

The Cheney Fallacy
May 18, 2009

Former Vice President Cheney says that President Obama's reversal of Bush-era terrorism policies endangers American security. The Obama administration, he charges, has "moved to take down a lot of those policies we put in place that kept the nation safe for nearly eight years from a follow-on terrorist attack like 9/11." Many people think Cheney is scare-mongering and owes President Obama his support or at least his silence. But there is a different problem with Cheney's criticisms: his premise that the Obama administration has reversed Bush-era policies is largely wrong.

A Few Good Women
December 03, 2008

In the Democratic primaries, Barack Obama first distinguished himself in the area of foreign policy; criticizing an atrophied approach to international affairs in both parties, he promised a new approach to diplomacy and national security.

Tension Between Gates And The Obama Team?
November 20, 2008

Here's a look at some tensions that could arise if Robert Gates stays on as Secretary of Defense, beyond disappointment from the get-out-of-Iraq chorus. Since at least spring, Gates has been issuing a series of far-reaching policy documents which explicitly try to set the future direction of U.S. defense policy.

Speed Reading 'the War Within': The Book's Main Point
September 11, 2008

It's possible to skip the interminable first section of Bob Woodward's book and peek at a two-page summary of his conclusions about the war on pp. 320-21.

Speed Reading 'the War Within': How We Got Gates
September 10, 2008

Here's how President Bush chose Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense, according to Woodward. The atmospherics are exceedingly murky:  Bush says he first considered Gates because "a friend he had gone to college with, whom he declined to identify, had first made the suggestion."   Bush is adamant on the fact that he didn't consult George H.W. Bush about Gates.

Incorrect Answer
December 09, 2004

It took only a few sentences on Wednesday for Donald Rumsfeld to demonstrate why he is both morally and strategically unfit to serve as secretary of defense. In a townhall-style meeting at a staging area in Kuwait, Rumsfeld was asked by Specialist Thomas Wilson of the Tennessee National Guard why soldiers were forced "to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic [i.e., bulletproof] glass to uparmor our vehicles?" There was a short pause, and then many of the 2,300 troops in attendance erupted in cheers and applause.

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