Robert Gates Is Pandering to Obama to Keep His Pentagon Gig
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Are there Army generals with guts?
It will be interesting to see what McKiernan actually does if and when more troops are surged down his throat. If he has the courage of his convictions, maybe he'll quit and perhaps even say something.
As a former Army officer, I would love to see an Army general display the courage that one saw in Admiral William Fallon, former commander of CENTCOM, who openly refused to "do Iran" on his watch, and got cashiered for it. Two years ago, Army Generals John Abizaid and George Casey, speaking on behalf of their senior commanders in the field, pushed back strongly against the idea of adding more U.S. troops to those already in Iraq. They finally succeeded in persuading former Defense Secretary Rumsfeld of the merits of their argument.
It was when Rumsfeld himself started to challenge the advice Bush was getting (to "surge" and thus not "lose" Iraq on his watch) that Robert Gates was brought in to replace Rumsfeld, relieve Abizaid and Casey from command, and help anoint Gen. Petraeus as surge-savior. (For details on Rumsfeld's break with Bush, see Consortiumnews.com's "Robert Gates: As Bad as Rumsfeld?")
But rather than speak out, Abizaid folded his tent like an Arab and silently stole away. Casey accepted the sinecure of Army chief of staff as hush money. And a thousand more U.S. troops died. The temporary respite provided by the 29,000 troops who survived the surge helped achieve the administration's main purpose -- deferring the inevitable U.S. troop withdrawal (not in "victory" as Bush liked to say, but by demand of the Iraqi government) until Bush and Cheney were safely out of office.
As for Gates, what he does not know about Afghanistan and insurgency could fill a medium-sized library. So could what Gates does know about how to ingratiate himself with the next level up.
If it is true that serious consideration is being given to keeping Gates on past January, it will be interesting to see if the pandering padding of his resume eventually wins the day with the president-elect.
Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.