Thursday, September 17, 2009

Robert Gates: Missile Defender, and then Opponent

Years ago I wrote a couple of blog posts about Bush administration plans to build long-range missiles in Poland and the Czech Republic.  It now appears that the Obama administration is throwing these plans in the waste-receptacle, which for anyone who has been following this story, should come as great news

More than anything, I think this whole saga tells us quite a lot about our current Defense Secretary, Robert Gates.  Where only two years ago he was telling the American people that this missile-defense plan was indispensable for the "indivisible security for the United States our NATO allies," he now alerts us that no threat is imminent, and that such plans now would be silly.  Some might interpret this change of position as an acknowledgment of recent findings on Iranian and North Korean missile capacities, as well as of our change in policy vis-a-vis Russia.  I interpret it as yet another episode in the long-running series of, "Robert Gates will tell the President whatever the President wants to hear."  


Blogger curry king said...

I've been grappling for a while for how I feel about the Gates appointment. On one hand, he (obviously) made sure no anti-war progressives worked at the Defense Dept. What you have is a bunch of hawkish Dems at the senior levels of the Pentagon, reflecting the Washington consensus that is always better to be pro-war than anti-war and that the pro-war Dems weren't really *wrong* about Iraq.

On the other hand, Gates IS able to get away with things like cutting the defense budget (albeit slightly, but baby steps, Simonton) that a Democratic SecDef wouldn't be able to do politically. Example: John McCain would listen to Bob Gates telling him that the F-22 is a billino dollar boondoggle, but it is unlikely that John McCain would listen to, say, Wes Clark, tell him the same thing. So that's the political argument that I'm sure Obama was thinking when he held Gates over.

That being said, it would be nice to have a Democrat at the helm of the Pentagon, lest we continue to cede to the conventional wisdom that progressives can't be trusted to handle national security matters.

My bet is that Obama appoints Chuck Hagel as SecDef after Gates leaves.

12:03 AM  

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