FOREIGN POLICY ON ROBERT GATES
Foreign Policy magazine online speculates on the tenure of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, with quotes from Andrew Krepinevich, Noah Schachtman, Reuel Marc Gerecht and Thomas P.M. Barnett. An excerpt:
Gates spent 26 years in the CIA—two as its director—but he has come under fire for allegedly politicizing intelligence into spin his bosses like to hear and not revealing all he knew about the Iran-Contra scandal in the 1980s. Regardless, his nomination has been greeted with enthusiasm by former intelligence officers, who point out that Gates will take a renewed interest in stalled intelligence reform. Under Rumsfeld, the Pentagon took expanded control of intelligence operations, often working in isolation from the civilian intel agencies. Stephen Cambone, the Pentagon’s top intelligence official and a close ally of Rumsfeld’s, has already announced that he’ll resign at the end of the year, a signal that Gates will likely assert more control of intelligence gathering at the Pentagon with an aim to speed its integration with the other agencies.
Former CIA Middle East specialist Reuel Marc Gerecht told FP that Gates’s views on Iran are “profoundly wrongheaded.” Gates has advocated “direct dialogue” with Tehran for more than a decade (longer, if you count Iran-Contra), and in 2004 he cochaired a major report that called for “a new approach” to U.S.-Iranian relations. His has become the “consensus position” in Washington now, says Iran expert Ray Takeyh of the Council on Foreign Relations (though there’s still great debate about the “how” of negotiations). As for the U.S. airstrikes on Iranian nuclear facilities advocated by some neocons, including Joshua Muravchik in FP, Takeyh says the chances “went from 0.01 percent to 0” with Gates’s nomination. In his Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Gates said that though he was “not optimistic” about discussions with the Islamic Republic, he “would counsel against military action, except as a last resort.”
The War on Terror
Gates is a Cold Warrior, and his outlook on the war on terror mimics his experience in facing down the Soviet Union. He has said that “[t]errorism is a global challenge that will take many forms and many years to defeat or contain,” but he dismisses the idea that the threat can be eradicated completely. With that outlook, he’s not expected to rock the boat in Washington. Don’t look for any deviation from current national security priorities and strategies in the fight against terrorism. Ditto military commissions, the U.S. detainee policy, Guantánamo Bay, and the application of U.S. military power around the world. If anything, expect Gates to push for improved intelligence capabilities”