Interventionism

Bob Gates Slams Obama Administration Officials, Interventionism of Varying Ideological Stripes

New memoirs coming out

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bob's your
Ed Schipul/flickr

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates forthcoming memoirs, Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War, don't appear to hold back on criticism of members of the Obama Administration in which Gates served.  The Bush hold-over, who served under every president since Richard Nixon, save Bill Clinton, writes that President Obama himself didn't seem all too interested in, or convinced of, his own Afghanistan war policy. Via Bob Woodward at the Washington Post:

Leveling one of the more serious charges that a defense secretary could make against a commander in chief sending forces into combat, Gates asserts that Obama had more than doubts about the course he had charted in Afghanistan. The president was "skeptical if not outright convinced it would fail," Gates writes in "Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War."

Obama, after months of contentious discussion with Gates and other top advisers, deployed 30,000 more troops in a final push to stabilize Afghanistan before a phased withdrawal beginning in mid-2011. "I never doubted Obama's support for the troops, only his support for their mission," Gates writes.

Gates also didn't think Joe Biden was ever right. Via the New York Times:

Mr. Gates calls Mr. Biden "a man of integrity," but questions his judgment. "I think he has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades," Mr. Gates writes.

On "experts" like Samatha Power, again via the Post:

Gates says his instructions to the Pentagon were: "Don't give the White House staff and [national security staff] too much information on the military options. They don't understand it, and 'experts' like Samantha Power will decide when we should move militarily." Power, then on the national security staff and now U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has been a strong advocate for humanitarian intervention.

In the excerpt in the Wall Street Journal, Gates addresses the interventionist trend in the foreign policy directly:

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.

This is particularly worth remembering as technology changes the face of war. A button is pushed in Nevada, and seconds later a pickup truck explodes in Mosul. A bomb destroys the targeted house on the right and leaves the one on the left intact. For too many people—including defense "experts," members of Congress, executive branch officials and ordinary citizens—war has become a kind of videogame or action movie: bloodless, painless and odorless. But my years at the Pentagon left me even more skeptical of systems analysis, computer models, game theories or doctrines that suggest that war is anything other than tragic, inefficient and uncertain.

While still Defense Secretary in 2011, Gates was already warning the U.S. against finding itself in another land war in Asia.

Gates also wrote in his memoirs that during his 2006 confirmation hearings, he wondered why he had decided to walk into the "category 5 shit storm" that faced him as Defense Secretary, writing that it would be "the first of many, many times I would sit at the witness table thinking something very different from what I was saying."

Read an excerpt of the book, adapted for the Wall Street Journal, here

I wrote about how interventionism hasn't worked out well for the U.S. in Iraq and elsewhere recently just yesterday.

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  1. I’m totally stealing “Category 5 shit storm.”

    1. Do they name shit storms now?

      1. Shitticane Henry is off the coast of Maryland right now!

        1. “I AM in a world of SHIT!” – Pvt Pyle

          1. “Randy just doesn’t understand. I mean I love him dearly, but I hate Ricky more. I just don’t want to have to put up with that prick for the rest of my life. You know, he grew up as a little shit-spark from the old shit-flint. And then he turned into a shit-bonfire and then driven by the winds of his monumental ignorance, he turned into a raging shit-firestorm. If I get to be married to Barb i’ll have total control of Sunnyvale, and then I can unleash a shitnami tidal wave that’ll engulf Ricky and extinguish his shit-flames forever. And with any luck, he’ll drown in the undershit of that wave. Shit-waves.”

            1. SHUT UP LAHEY!

              1. A giant condor flew over my pool and took a shit in it. That caused a shit tsunami.

      2. Do they name shit storms now?

        After politicians, yes.

        *Shitstorm Feinstein is now over the DC area and slowly spreading west. People have been advised to stay in their homes, have plenty of candles, batteries and freeze-dried food*

        1. Don’t forget the duct tape and plastic sheeting.

  2. The president was “skeptical if not outright convinced it would fail,” Gates writes in “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War.”

    I can’t wait for Kathleen Sebelius’s memoir!

    1. I think she’s a true believer.

    2. It would need umpteen revisions.

  3. I’m hoping this serves as something like when John Murtha introduced a resolution to withdraw from Iraq. Suddenly being against the ongoing war went from a fringe position to respectability.

    Being against the Iraq War in public now is so common, people forget what it was like circa 2005, when Hillary Clinton, and others on the left, were criticizing the Iraq War for not going far enough. …and we’re kind of in that environment with Obama right now.

    We get a couple of respected people on the left on the record criticizing Obama, and maybe it becomes respectable to do so. And isn’t it about time for Obama to start quacking like a duck?

  4. “I never doubted Obama’s support for the troops, only his support for their mission,” Gates writes.

    I love them so much I will send them to die for something I don’t care about one way or the other!

    – CinC Lightworker

    1. When you are the person who is sending them on those missions, if you don’t support the missions, you don’t support them.

      1. I never sent one soldier of mine on any mission I would not (and often did) do myself.

        Hell awaits O! if this is true.

        1. I’m pretty sure there is absolutely no mission Obama would go on himself. Just sayin’.

          1. I heard he’s learning to code.

  5. So he spends forty years working for and advancing the US war machine and then once his career is over he writes about how we oughtn’t to be so warlike.

    1. Ain’t that a bitch?

    2. Kind of like Eisenhower warning about the military-industrial complex…the one his administration was instrumental in creating.

      1. Eisenhower cut the military and the complex hated him for it. Eisenhower’s strategy was to build nukes such that we no longer needed a huge Army to defend ourselves. It was Kennedy and Johnson who build the military industrial complex more than anyone.

        1. Exactly. Ike was convinced that American prosperity was one of the most effective weapons in the struggle with the Soviets. He calculated it was cheaper in the long run to build nukes than maintain a large conventional military.

          1. & now we have both & more! Ain’t infinite money grand 🙂

    3. Where does Gates say that “we” shouldn’t be “warlike”? Here?

      [N]ot every outrage, act of aggression, oppression or crisis should elicit a U.S. military response.

      That hardly reads as a repudiation of U.S. foreign policy and all military intervention everywhere and under all circumstances.

      working for and advancing the US war machine

      “War machine”? You mean the U.S. military? “Advancing”? You mean being a soldier and obeying orders?

      1. The Secretary of Defense should not just be a “soldier” obeying orders.

        If Gates had something to say, he should have said it while he was there. That’s what being a leader is all about.

        1. And the reason why we have a civilian-controlled military.

        2. I think he did say it. I do not think that he should have given his complaints publicly. We do not need a military that spends it time questioning its civilian leadership to the public. Obama won the election, Gates didn’t. That means Obama makes the rules. Gates of course if free to tell Obama what a dumb ass he is in private but he should not be airing those grievances in public while he is Sec Def.

          The worst you could say about Gates is that he should have resigned. But I am not sure that every Sec Def should resign every time they disagree with the President. And if he doesn’t, I think the public has a right to know what his beefs were after he has left office and is speaking as a private citizen.

          1. We do not need a military that spends it time questioning its civilian leadership to the public. Obama won the election, Gates didn’t.

            Gates is *part* of the civilian leadership. The Secretary of Defense is not a soldier.

            Hypothetically, would you be saying this if the IRS Commissioner came forward and publicly revealed that he disagreed with the President’s targeting of political groups? Of course not.

            Secretary Gates’ oath was to the American People and the Constitution, not to whoever is sitting in the Oval Office. If you see something, say something. Gates did neither. bravery is standing up and saying something is wrong and doing something about it. Gates has none of it.

            1. Hypothetically, would you be saying this if the IRS Commissioner came forward and publicly revealed that he disagreed with the President’s targeting of political groups? Of course not.

              If the IRS had weapons and the ability to launch a coup I would. The IRS is not DOD. No one gives a shit when some bureaucrat questions the President because the bureaucrats are no danger of taking over. The Military is. Gates was not elected. He was appointed. He as Sec Def is a part of the military chain of command. Him coming out and questioning the President is no different than a general doing so.

              You are playing with fire if you think it is okay for anyone in DOD to use their position to question the President. If Gates was outraged, he should have resigned.

              1. Everyone in the civilian leadership should question the President and act in accordance with his or her own conscience every day. His oath was to the Constitution and the American Public.

                1. His oath was to the Constitution and the American Public.

                  So does the oath every military officer takes you half wit. To say it again more slowly. Gates is a part of the chain of command. He is no different than a general. Every military officer takes the same oath and is also appointed by the President. There is nothing “civilian” about the Sec Def.

                  1. There is nothing “civilian” about the Sec Def.

                    Nothing besides actually being a civilian.

              2. the bureaucrats are no danger of taking over.

                You sure about that?

              3. “because the bureaucrats are no danger of taking over.”

                You sure about that?

        3. I don’t agree. He should, but in private. SecDef (any cabinet member) is a direct hire of the President. You do what the boss says. If you don’t like it, and you make that public, you should expect to be fired on the spot.

          1. Then you GET FIRED FOR IT.

            That’s the definition of leadership and bravery and public service – doing what’s right, even if it costs you.

            1. Some would argue that you’re going to be more effective fighting from within than trying to fight from the outside. I happen to concur. I’d rather have someone whose opinion I agree with towing the line publicly but fighting the good fight on the inside then a complete automaton pulling the levels while us outsiders watch.

            2. no, not how it works. Political appointees don’t go in blind, and they don’t question or second-guess in public. You raise objections/concerns when decisions are being made. Alternatively, you are free to decline the nomination to your Cabinet post.

              1. Why don’t political appointees question or second-guess in public? Because you say so? That’s how you think it should be?

                He took an oath to the American people. We’ve got John here claiming that Obama’s political calculus in Afghanistan constitutes a high crime. If Gates knew about this high crime, his allegiance is to the Public and the Constitution.

                1. When every Cabinet member and other bureaucrat thinks it’s cool to slam POTUS in public, that’s not govt, it’s chaos. Because every decision will piss off someone. There is always the option of NOT serving in an administration.

                  Gates and John have reached different conclusions over Obama’s decisions.

                  1. When every Cabinet member and other bureaucrat thinks it’s cool to slam POTUS in public, that’s not govt, it’s chaos.

                    That’s only true when the government footprint is small enough that you can make a clear distinction.

                    An overly large government is the exact same thing as chaos. When we have executive-level agencies blatantly disregarding the law they MUST be called out in public.

              2. Alternatively, you are free to decline the nomination to your Cabinet post.

                Evidently, you are also free to do exactly what Gates did. He doesn’t seem to have been shot or locked up for it.

          2. Basically you’re saying here that people who speak the truth to their real bosses, the American Public, should be fired.

            JFC what a sop to political power.

            1. Yes, because only the President is elected and bears the responsibility of coming clean with the Public being served. Everyone else in the Administration works for the President, not the Public.

              1. BS. The public pays their salary. The Secretaries of the Departments take oaths of office. Their obligation is to the Constitution and the American Public.

                1. they work at the pleasure of the president. Period. And they are political appointees, not people brought in by some head-hunting firm.

                  1. they work at the pleasure of the president. Period. And they are political appointees, not people brought in by some head-hunting firm.

                    so fucking what?

                    So that means they should zip their mouths and never publicly disagree, even though they swore to defend the Constitution?

                  2. they work at the pleasure of the president. Period.

                    Absolutely. And the president can fire him if he doesn’t like what he says. He should still say it if he thinks it’s important for people to know about.

            2. Basically you’re saying here that people who speak the truth to their real bosses, the American Public, should be fired.

              Are you really this stupid or just that hard headed? Obama, love him or hate him, won the election. And if he doesn’t like what Gates or any other appointee is doing or just feels like doing it, he can fire their asses.

              Obama has power because the country elected him? Who the fuck is Gates? What base of power does he have? No one ever elected Gates and he wouldn’t have a job if not for the President.

              We are Obama’s boss. But Obama is sure as hell Gates’ boss and can fire him.

              1. That doesn’t mean the President should fire him, nor does that mean we should sit here and look back and say, “If Gates had spoken up, he should have been fired”.

                Gates should have spoken up and the American People should have said, “That was the right thing to do, Secretary Gates. Your obligation is to us and the Constitution, not to your comfy job. And no, Mr. President, we don’t think Secretary Gates should be fired for speaking up”

                1. you don’t speak up in public to tell the country that your boss is a jackass. It doesn’t play well in the private arena, either. And whether “we” think Gates should be fired for speaking up is irrelevant. Cabinet folks serve at the pleasure of POTUS, not us.

                  1. And whether “we” think Gates should be fired for speaking up is irrelevant.

                    No it’s not. It’s the exact issue at hand.

                    Look, you can state over and over again the Cabinet serves at the pleasure of the President. I know that. That’s what we call a “positive” observation. I’m making a normative argument – it doesn’t matter whether it put Gates’ job at risk, he should have publicly informed us, the American people, what the fuck was going on with our military and what the problems were while it was going on. His obligation is to us and the Constitution, not whatever random asshole appointed him to the position.

                    At the very minimum, he could have used his abilities to finagle getting subpoenaed and then be “forced” to tell the truth in front of Congress. He couldn’t even be arsed to do that.

                    1. you’re making an argument based on how you would like things to be rather than on how they are. Administrations cannot function if every Cabinet secretary or department head is on speed dial to some reporter or other with everything that pisses him/her off.

                      Gates or someone like him wouldn’t be rehired because we’re upset. It’s not the SecDef’s job to say “POTUS is a moron” or some such. I suppose he can orchestrate a leak that questions policy but he’s not holding a press conference.

                    2. I don’t care whether Administrations “function” or don’t. Gates had an obligation to tell us something is wrong, and he failed. Fuck him.

                2. That doesn’t mean the President should fire him, nor does that mean we should sit here and look back and say, “If Gates had spoken up, he should have been fired”.

                  Publicly? Yes he should have been fired even if he were right. The reason is that we do not want to set the precedent that every time the military doesn’t like the President’s policy, it is free to go straight to the public and plead its case. What is the point of Gates speaking up if not to convince the public to pressure Obama?

                  Randian do you really think it is a good idea for the Military to be going around the President to the public and playing politics? I don’t. You think it is great here because you agree with Gates. But you need to understand that if it is okay for Gates to do it, it will be okay for some future Sec Def who say wants to invade a country when the President doesn’t want to, to do the exact same thing. I don’t think you will like that very much.

                  1. Gates is not the military, so that’s your error right there. He’s a civilian.

                    1. Gates is not the military,

                      He is the head of DOD and a part of the military Chain of Command and subject ot the UCMJ by law according to Goldwater Nichols. He most certainly is “military”. There is more to military than wearing a uniform.

                      You are just wrong here and are too hard headed to admit it.

                    2. He is the head of DOD

                      So?

                      nd a part of the military Chain of Command

                      so is the President. Again, so?

                    3. So? Your argument that is not of the military just died, so there’s that.

                    4. The Secretary of Defense is civilian. From Section 2 of the 1947 act establishing the DOD:

                      provide for their unified direction under civilian control of the Secretary of Defense

                      From Goldwater-Nichols:

                      (d) MATTERS TO B E INCLUDED.?The study required by subsection
                      (a) shall include consideration of the following:
                      (1) Whether the present organization of the Office?
                      (A) is optimally structured to assist the Secretary of
                      Defense in the effective exercise of civilian control
                      of the
                      Department of Defense, including civilian control of?
                      (i) defense policy development and strategic
                      planning;
                      (ii) program and budget development;
                      (iii) policy, program, and budget execution;
                      (iv) contingency planning; and
                      (v) military operations;

                      13 USC 113(a)

                      There is a Secretary of Defense, who is the head of the Department of Defense, appointed from civilian life by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. A person may not be appointed as Secretary of Defense within seven years after relief from active duty as a commissioned officer of a regular component of an armed force.

                    5. Sorry, but civilian control of the defense is not within the normal chain of command of the military.

                      As many thing encapsulated in the US Constitution were to hopefully prevent bad governance the founders saw in the lifetimes and through historical knowledge, the idea of civilian control started with the founding of the US to specifically prevent military control (a juanta).

                      To do this – the founders placed war powers in the hands of elected officials and no one else. The control of course was in Congress to declare war and the President to fight it (as well as allowing the President short term deployment capabilities in emergencies).

                      & just because SecDef is appointed from civilian life does not make them less military.

                      You seem to not understand what “in the military chain of command” means – so explicitly it means that SecDef is a boss of everyone in the military.

                      First boss – Company Commander – then Battalion Commander – etc / etc / etc – SecDef – President (and yes, the President is both military and civilian – as given the name Commander in Chief – but it’s the only position that is both civilian and military).

                      Irregardless – the main point is that civilian control is a long lived Constitutionally inspired separation of powers which places war powers acts with only elected officials.

                      It has nothing to do with any non-elected officials, much less SecDef.

                    6. Sorry, but civilian control of the defense is not within the normal chain of command of the military.

                      As with many things in the US Constitution, civilian control over the military was setup with checks and balances in order to prevent centralized control.

                      Additionally though they set to secure civilian control by placing war powers only in the hands of elected officials and no one else.

                      This was specifically setup to prevent potential military coups and hopefully keep the US from becoming a juanta.

                      Additionally, as with other founding ideals, the war powers themselves were separated between Congress and the President (not that we follow this ideal much anymore).

                      So by definition SecDef is not in control of anything and is in fact, an employee of the President, but they are also part of the military and the civilian appointment doesn’t change that.

                      To explain “in the military chain of command” explicitly means means that SecDef is a boss of everyone in the military.

                      First boss – Company Commander – then Battalion Commander – etc / etc / etc – SecDef – President (and yes, the President is both military and civilian – as given the name Commander in Chief – but it’s the only position that is both civilian and military).

                      Irregardless – the main point is that civilian control is a long lived Constitutionally inspired ideal which places war powers acts with elected officials.

                      It has nothing to do with any non-elected officials, much less SecDef.

        4. The Secretary of Defense should not just be a “soldier” obeying orders.

          He wasn’t Sec. Def. for the last 40 years. For most of that time he was, indeed, “just” a soldier. Reread the comment I responded to:

          he spends forty years working for and advancing the US war machine

          Soldiers don’t “advance” the “war machine,” whatever that means. And in the end, every serviceman, regardless of his rank and office, takes his orders from the commander in chief, a civilian.

          1. Gates is not a Soldier you moron.

      2. [N]ot every outrage, act of aggression, oppression or crisis should elicit a U.S. military response.

        That hardly reads as a repudiation of U.S. foreign policy and all military intervention everywhere and under all circumstances.

        No, but it sure sounds like someone saying the US shouldn’t be so warlike.

        working for and advancing the US war machine

        “War machine”? You mean the U.S. military? “Advancing”? You mean being a soldier and obeying orders?

        Yep and yep.

        1. Also what Kochtopus and Kristen said.

        2. Hugh, why are you responding to Mary?

          1. Is that who that is? Jeez, I need to update my sock puppet bingo card.

            1. Let’s see: new, stupid handle that passive-aggressively posts whiny moronic comments, usually asking pointless and whiny questions and making passive-aggressive mildly antagonistic comments about the commentariat here that are always hardcore projection, and occasionally using the word “narcissism”? Oh, we’ve never seen that before. Nope, never.

              1. Well to be fair, its comment had a tinge of defensive warbonering and troop-worship that we often see from the raging foreign explosionists that regularly infest this blog.

                1. Mary is truly a master of disguise.

                  1. Is/was Mary also White Indian?

                    1. Is/was Mary also White Indian?

                      When it suited her mission of disruption. But WI was “real” in the sense it was a discrete poster who had severe mental issues.

                    2. Hmm, disturbing. Thanks for the info.

                    3. I don’t know about severe mental issues, but yeah, weird and more than slightly compulsive. WI seemed to be surprised that someone far crazier took over his schtick.

    4. See: Former DEA officials criticizing the drug war.

      Don’t see them returning any paychecks.

  6. If it is the case that Obama told his people he thought the surge was a bad strategy and was going to fail but he was doing it anyway for political reasons, that is to my mind no shit high crimes and misdemeanor and should result in Obama’s impeachment. If sending US soldiers to their deaths in a campaign you think is going to fail for the single purpose of gaining political points isn’t a high crime and misdemeanor what is?

    1. That doesn’t wash with me because Team Red said it didn’t go far enough, so they should spare me the crocodile tears about the fact that Obama did what they wanted, just for the wrong reasons.

      1. Last I looked President took an Oath of Office to be commander and chief. That comes with a duty. If he honestly believed it was a bad strategy, he had a duty to the country, the office and the people involved to not do it.

        You miss this because you have allowed your partisanship and butthurt addle your brain. Think of it this way, imagine this involved a conflict that TEAM RED had nothing to do with. Suppose Gates said that Obama had launched the war in Libya not because he thought it was right or thought it would succeed but for the simple reason that he figured it would give him a domestic political advantage. Would you be saying it was no big deal? No you would be outraged.

        According to Gates at least, he did the exact same thing in Afghanistan, launched a campaign he didn’t believe in or thought would succeed for purely political reason. You are only not outraged because the issues of Afghanistan and Iraq have left you so psychologically damaged, you can no longer think rationally about them.

        1. Like I said, last I checked, Secretary Gates took an oath of office as well.

          I never said it was no big deal, just that I don’t believe people like you are actually outraged. I think you’re faux outraged because you really wanted the war in Afghanistan amped up anyway. You just don’t like the fact a Blue politician did it with anything but Red motivations in his heart. boo fucking hoo.

          1. the Blue politician did it because he spent an entire campaign talking himself into that corner. No one forced Obama to declare a “good war” or push a surge or do anything else.

          2. I never said it was no big deal, just that I don’t believe people like you are actually outraged.

            Since you can’t read my mind and I can, I really don’t give a fuck what you believe or don’t believe about what is going on there. I will take the voice in my head about what I am outrages me or does not over what the voices in your head claim.

            If you can’t do any better than questioning people’s integrity, go fuck yourself and become a liberal. You will fit in better.

      2. So you’re argument is SecDef is weak for not publicly calling his boss an idiot while still working for him, yet simultaneously there is absolutely nothing wrong with a President prosecuting a war he doesn’t support?

        So this is… the buck stops… with appointed officials only?

        1. *your …. damn it

    2. I get the feeling that Obama just gets bored with huge swaths of his job and defers to his advisors, and war is a Republican thing where he didn’t even care enough to put a progressive cultist in charge of it or trade the secretaryship to a favored constituency. Like someone on Twitter said, Obama may be watching MSNBC on vacation and just now figuring out who Robert Gates is. It’s a huge dereliction of duty, but if the Benghazi consulate attack wasn’t enough to impeach him over, then this surely isn’t going to do it.

  7. Does Gates explain what he would consider to be a success in Afghanistan

    Is a basked case of a Afghanistan government which is only kept in power by foreign troops and masses of money considered to be a success?

  8. They don’t understand it, and ‘experts’ like Samantha Power will decide when we should move militarily.

    Ha ha ha! Sounds just like Rumsfeld kvetching about Rice. I wonder if Gates also pisses all over State. I’m looking forward to listening to this book.

    BTW, if you didn’t read Known and Unknown, I certainly recommend it.

    1. But in fairness to Gates, Power is a complete fucking moron who has never held a real job in her life and has epically fucked up all of the fake ones she has had.

  9. When I first heard about this, I thought for sure his objection would be the opposite of what it, in fact, is.

    Glad I was wrong, and I think more highly of Mr. Gates based on what’s been reported so far. I can’t think any less of the President and his POS advisors like Samantha Power than I already do, or I would.

    1. I haven’t read the book. But my impression of it from the news stories is that Gates is a good solider and would have supported whatever policy the President gave him. The problem for Gates is not the policy so much as the craven and stupid way the policies were arrived at.

      1. But my impression of it from the news stories is that Gates is a good solider and would have supported whatever policy the President gave him.

        Like any good political appointee. The habit of publicly eschewing your boss is an easy trap to fall into and a tough habit to quit. & anyone who can make it to SecDef has proven, several times over, their loyalty and discretion otherwise the job wouldn’t likely be available.

        The problem for Gates is not the policy so much as the craven and stupid way the policies were arrived at.

        I haven’t read much of it either, but he’s right to be concerned if the reasons were contrived or arbitrary.

        Sure, in a world where using shifting allies is almost a must, you might find yourself on the same side of a particular argument with some group for different reasons.

        & I say work together if it helps – just don’t forget the differences in reasons though, otherwise due to Obamacare you end up trusting other statists too much, or conversely, due to MJ or gay rights, you end up supporting the other statists too much…

  10. So Joe Biden is the best foreign policy advisor ever. Just do the opposite of whatever he suggest and youll bat 1000.

  11. 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.

    QFT. I knew there was a reason I liked that guy.

    1. He is right. Our military can kill people and destroy an enemy military or insurgency. That is it. Doing that doesn’t necessarily solve a political problem or break an enemy’s will to fight by other means. That is what we can’t seem to understand.

      1. I remember when being good at foreign policy was a key part of being president.

        1. Smart Diplomacy. Remember that? The other problem is that part of good foreign policy is for there to be an element of unpredictability. If your first answer is always military force, it is very easy for your enemies to manipulate you. Moreover, since people figure you will attack them anyway, the threat of using force become less potent.

          The root cause of all this, like a lot of things with these people, is the total unwillingness to see the world as it is or to accept that sometimes there are only bad options. Both sides look to the military as a first option because they see the military as a magic way to avoid facing nasty truths that conflict with their narrative of the world.

          1. It’s like Diplomacy 101 that military force is something you keep in your back pocket, not your first resort.

          2. Having a superpower we competed with on roughly equal terms weeded out a lot of misguided nonsense merely by necessity. There were many wrong-headed missions we carried out under the aegis of the Cold War — but even the most bone-headed of them looks like a masterpiece of rational policymaking compared to the foreign policy from the Clinton administration onwards. It still boggles the mind that we implemented regime change through force of arms on a country which had not attacked us for 20 years, gave up its nuclear program, and was generally behaving in the foreign policy realm in a way that corresponded to our interests. Attacking Libya was purely the result of animus against their internal politics, and played out at the cost of several of our long-term interests in the region as well as globally.

            1. The threat of nuclear war made us be a bit more realistic in our goals. We never tried to remake countries. We just tried to keep them from going communist.

          3. part of good foreign policy is for there to be an element of unpredictability

            This is why we must nuke the moon.

            1. This is why we must nuke the moon.

              Because moon nazis!

      2. Your average ROTC student has a greater understanding of the Clausewitzian use of war than our leading policymakers, as far as I can tell.

        1. Sure – but I would expect that to some degree – warrior code/ethics/etc – studying war philosophy should be a part of it (not that On War is exactly “war philosophy”).

          Though I get your further point – it would be nice (should be required) if politicians knew a great deal more about these things too.

  12. What a backstabber.

    1. Yes, isn’t this treason? When will they be executing Gates?

      1. He is no better than Snowden.

  13. My Obot acquaintances are carefully scrutinizing this and are not at all latching onto distractions like whether it’s okay to out Aaron Schock.

    [/bald-faced lie]

    1. How is it possible to have a discussion whether it’s okay to out Aaron Schock among Obamabots? Of course it is okay, he is a Rethuglican.

      1. They discuss it the way they discuss everything else, namely, by denouncing anyone who disagrees in the slightest as a thought criminal.

  14. ‘I shall be king!’

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bP0LW-rvQc

    Is this how Obambelievers see him?

    1. Obamalievers?

            1. Obamafluffers?

  15. The president was “skeptical if not outright convinced it would fail,” Gates writes…

    And that is fine…until Obama orders the troops into combat anyway. If Obama doesn’t believe Afghanistan is worth fighting for, or that its winnable, he shouldn’t be sending in more troops to die for his presidency. If people call him a pussy for it, fuck em.

    1. ^^THIS^^

      I can forgive making mistakes. Everyone does that. But I cannot forgive sending other people to their deaths in what you think is a mistake just because it is politically easier to do so.

  16. and not every outrage, act of aggression, oppression or crisis should elicit a U.S. military response.

    One of these is not like the others.

    1. I think he meant aggression by other countries against other countries.

      Yes, aggression against the US should elicit a military response.

  17. While still Defense Secretary in 2011, Gates was already warning the U.S. against finding itself in another land war in Asia.

    Was he also warning us to never go in against a sicilian when death is on the line?

    1. Yes, but Gates has spent years developing a tolerance to Iocane Powder.

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