November 27, 2006

Gates of Mire

Hatched by Dafydd

The rap against Secretary-designate of Defense Robert Gates, former Director of Central Intelligence -- mostly from the conservative blogosphere -- is that he is too close to former Secretaries of State James "Mr. Realism" Baker and Dr. Henry "Hammerin' Hank" Kissinger. Viz.:

The Pentagon is drafting its own recommendations for how to win in Iraq. Its goal is to provide the administration with a counterproposal in the event the Baker group's report is unsatisfactory. But the Pentagon's effort may face a serious complication in the form of the nomination of Robert Gates, who has been working with Baker, to head the Defense Department....

No wonder, then, that the Baker group seems poised to recommend that we enlist Syria and Iran to pacify Iraq. If Baker was willing to have Saddam do it, then why not Syria and Iraq?

So it goes. But these speculations are all fairy castles built on clouds; nobody has found any writings, talkings, or previous actions of Robert Gates that would imply that President Bush brought him aboard so he could order CENTCOM to surrender to the Iranians. And in fact, in a lengthy discussion of Gates by Michael Barone (hat tip to Power Line, of all places!) in his US News & World Report column, the noble Barone throws cold water on the fevered speculation:

The picture I get of Robert Gates from his book is that of a careful analyst, one who sees American foreign policy as generally and rightly characterized by continuity but one who sees the need for bold changes in response to rapid changes in the world -- and doesn't look for answers from the government bureaucracies. He is very much aware that we have dangerous enemies in the world, and he was willing over many years to confront them and try to check their advance.

Gates pal R. Emmett Tyrrell, jr., Lord Protector of the Washington Times, also pronounces the doomsaying "wild speculation":

Now in comes Bob Gates, and as is the custom in this town there is wild speculation. He is George Bush I's guy. He is James Baker's guy. He is the CIA's guy. He is coming in from the presidency of Texas A & M to pull the plug on our involvement in Iraq. Actually, he is George Bush II's appointee. And though I shall only mildly speculate, I suspect he will do as his boss tells him. That seems to mean he will apply a fresh set of eyes to Iraq.

But back to Baron Barone. Barone answers a number of the fantasized criticisms of Gates, who has not even been barbecued by the senatorial chefs yet, as a defeatist, a captive of the bureaucracy, an unreal Realist, a State-Department lackey, and as spineless. Just as with Harriet Miers, in about 60 seconds, we went from "I don't know enough about him" to "he's an agent of the Democrats sent to the Pentagon to declare defeat in Iraq and redeploy to Okinawa with Jack Murtha."

But the portrait Barone paints -- mostly from reading Gates' book, From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insider's Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War -- is of a career bureaucrat who nevertheless doesn't look to the bureaucracies for policy, who prefers continuity but is also willing and able to turn 90 degrees in response to changing facts on the ground, and who has often advocated forceful confrontation and going in hard. This is a very different picture than we have seen.

Some examples; Barone on Gates' flexibility and distrust of the very bureaucracies he rose through:

Yet Gates also discusses times in which policy had to change course sharply in response to rapid changes in the world, notably during the collapse of communism in the early 1990s. Interestingly, this career government bureaucrat did not find the government bureaucracies of much use in coming up with new ideas. Instead, his impulse was to create small committees of political appointees. In July 1989, he sent [former President George H.W.] Bush a memo citing developments in the Soviet Union and concluding that "we should not be confident of Gorbachev remaining in power."

As Gates recounts in his book: "Bush agreed to the contingency planning I had first considered in the spring, and in September 1989, I asked Condi Rice to gather a group of people and in very great secrecy begin this work. When I met with her to explain the task, I told her that I thought the planning was very important because the situation in the Soviet Union could go bad in a hurry, and the U.S. government was on 'autopilot' when it came to thinking about such dramatic developments.

And here is Gates himself, from his book (as quoted by Barone), on the need for forceful confrontation of the Soviets in Nicaragua:

"By the end of 1984, I concluded that we were kidding ourselves if we thought the contras might win. I wrote [CIA Director William] Casey on December 14, and began by saying, 'The contras can't overthrow the Sandinista regime.' I continued that we were muddling along in Nicaragua with a halfhearted policy because of the lack of agreement within the administration and with Congress on our real objectives. I urged moving to an overt policy including withdrawal of diplomatic recognition; providing open military assistance and funds for a government-in-exile; imposing economic sanctions, perhaps including a quarantine; and using air strikes to destroy Nicaragua's military buildup -- no invasion but no more Soviet/Cuban military deliveries. I concluded, 'Relying on and supporting the contras as our only action may actually hasten the ultimate, unfortunate outcome.'"

Once again, I think a lot of folks in the blogosphere are, as Mark Twain put it in Life On the Mississippi (1850), getting "such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact."

Can't we better restrain ourselves -- this time -- and at least wait for the confirmation hearings before shaking our heads "more in sorrow than in anger" at all the horrible things we imagine he might do?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 27, 2006, at the time of 4:53 AM

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» Iraq on the Brink from Joe's Dartblog
The question of whether we will permit ourselves to win in Iraq looms large these days. We already know where the newsmedia stands. I made note yesterday of an AP article which moved on the wire with the headline, “U.S.... [Read More]

Tracked on November 27, 2006 6:33 AM


The following hissed in response by: TBinSTL

The rush on our side to believe the worst in every circumstance has led, in my opinion, to more failure and greater damage than anything the Left has done. I blame the loss of Congress on this penchant for fratricide. The fracture of the Right handed victory to the enemies of America. We became so overconfident in our dominance that we seem to have decided it was time to settle all the old scores. Now we have a real crisis and less power to deal with it.

The above hissed in response by: TBinSTL [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 27, 2006 12:42 PM

The following hissed in response by: Terrye

I agree with TB. I read Barone's post and he certainly is not ready to panic. But time and again these pundits go running off a cliff. And what if they are wrong? Will they admit it? Hell no, they are far too egotistical for that.And the thing is most of them have never had a job as demanding or difficult as Gates has had in the past. They just shoot their mouth off.

The above hissed in response by: Terrye [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 27, 2006 3:31 PM

The following hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist

Unfortunately, at this point, i don’t think that it matters much as to who the next Secretary of Defense is. Heck, humble Low and Ignorant Insane swamp hermit me wonders why we even have a Department of Defense, especially when we can’t use its potential, or our Military’s potential, or our weaponry, or what INTEL capabilities we have left, to speak of kidding ourselves.

Five years ago, on September 11, 2001, America was clearly attacked. Five years later, America is at best impotent, and at worst at the mercy of our Enemies. Example (from Stratfor):

Twisting the Rubik's Cube

Stratfor continues – “Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Sunday that the United States is "trapped" in Iraq -- and that Iran is prepared to help to extricate it from the Iraqi "quagmire" provided that Washington changes its "bullying" behavior toward Tehran.

SNIP...“But there is a conundrum. As each of these regional pieces falls into place, what Washington needs is for Tehran to use its influence among the Iraqi Shia to reach a deal with the Sunnis in that state. The Iranians have signaled that they are willing to do this, but for a price:

1) Security for the Iranian regime
2) Recognition of Iranian influence in Iraq
3) Acknowledgment of Iran's dominance in the Persian Gulf and the wider Middle East.

Given that price, it would appear that achieving stability within Iraq means destabilizing the regional balance of power.

SNIP...“No matter how you cut the cards, the rise of Iran as a regional power is all but inseparable from any solution on Iraq.

The Democrat Party is in control of Congress, so we might as well accept Robert Gates, or even Michael Moore, since it doesn’t really matter that much at this point. Heck, the anti-War crowd has just started nibbling on their own Democrat Party’s leadership, and that same leadership wants to avoid being the “main course” for a growing-in-strength Worldwide anti-War feeding frenzy. Speaking of Michael Moore, he has a new letter out today:

Cut and Run, the Only Brave Thing to Do ...a letter from Michael Moore

Personally, Iran deserves to win this War...deserves our respect, since Jimmy “The Mullah” Carter encouraged them some 27 years ago, and since they obviously haven’t been counting the days until Victory, like Michael Moore (and his anti-War crowd does) counts the days until America’s to speak of “1,347 days” or 3.741666+ years.

(BTW, Most Honorable Dafydd, Michael Moore reads Big Lizards. Also, do humble me a freebie favor at this point, and do a double check on my math, since so many Americans now count ‘War Days’ (?!) during times of War, and unlike Michael Moore, i don’t hire human to speak of such a ‘Thang.)

One more ‘Thang before closing...from Stratfor once more, and another threat that the Shia supporting Iranians will be interested in obtaining, as the Sunni Osama fades into the distance:

U.K.: The Puzzling Polonium-210 Attack

SNIP...“Once concentrated, however, it is lethal. Polonium-210 emits 5,000 times more alpha particles than radium, and an amount the size of the period at the end of this sentence would contain about 3,400 times the lethal dose.

Enough said...

Life on Earth is a *LOT* like Life in a Prison...


The above hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 27, 2006 6:07 PM

The following hissed in response by: Davod

Thbe US and its friends have been turned from within. How anyone in government can combat the MSM and defeatest polticians of all stripes is beyond me.

The above hissed in response by: Davod [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 28, 2006 2:56 AM

The following hissed in response by: Terrye


The mullahs say we are trapped in Iraq? Well the head mullah also says he has a green aura so that tells you where crazy man is coming from.

The above hissed in response by: Terrye [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 28, 2006 3:58 AM

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