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Retiring Gates Warns About A Weakened US

From the erstwhile news magazine, Newsweek:

The Defense Rests

As Robert Gates retires from the Pentagon top job, he sounds a grim warning: America is losing its grip.

by John Barry and Tara McKelvey
June 19, 2011

Aboard the Pentagon jet on his last foreign trip as secretary of defense, Robert Gates takes a moment to peer across the American horizon—and the view is dire: the U.S. is in danger of losing its supremacy on the global stage, he says.

“I’ve spent my entire adult life with the United States as a superpower, and one that had no compunction about spending what it took to sustain that position,” he tells NEWSWEEK, seated in a windowless conference room aboard the Boeing E-4B. “It didn’t have to look over its shoulder because our economy was so strong. This is a different time.”

A pause.

“To tell you the truth, that’s one of the many reasons it’s time for me to retire, because frankly I can’t imagine being part of a nation, part of a government … that’s being forced to dramatically scale back our engagement with the rest of the world.

Which is unfortunate, since he is currently serving under a ‘Commander-In-Chief’ who refuses to see things any other way.

Such a statement—rather astonishing for the leader of the world’s preeminent fighting force—may open the administration to charges of not believing in American exceptionalism, an opening the GOP is already trying to exploit.

Apparently, Newsweek is confused about the concept of ‘American exceptionalism.’

But these days Gates is less worried about political crossfire and more focused on the legacy of his own tenure, which bridged the presidencies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

He is determined to define his own legacy as Pentagon boss, and eager to push back against one of the more vocal criticisms of his tenure: the belief among many liberals and some conservative budget hawks that in a time of deep indebtedness, he hasn’t been willing to chop enough of a defense budget bloated by a decade of war

And never mind that under Secretary Gates’ tenure the Pentagon’s budget has already been ‘chopped’ by $400 billion dollars. Or that Mr. Obama wants him to slash another $400 billion dollars from the Pentagon’s budget.

What other part of government is facing a trillion dollars in cuts? Or any cuts at all? (Hint: none.)

But it is exactly these draconian cuts are exactly that Mr. Gates is griping about. And yet this detail doesn’t even warrant a mention from the Newsweek ‘reporters.’

Don’t expect him to apologize. In Gates’s mind, it’s other political leaders with less experience who are confused

Gee, whom could that be?

Gates, who’ll be succeeded by CIA chief Leon Panetta…

And now we know why Mr. Panetta is succeeding Gates. He will be only to happy to cut the country’s defense spending to the bone.

Gates concedes he was sometimes on the wrong side of an issue. For instance, he was gun-shy about using ground troops to kill Osama bin Laden, arguing that Obama should opt for an airstrike instead. Gates hesitated because he feared a repeat of the bungled 1980 attempt to free American hostages in Iran that killed eight U.S. servicemen. “I was very explicit with the president in one of the discussions,” Gates acknowledges. “I said: ‘Mr. President, I want truth in lending. Because of experience, I may be too cautious, you know.’?”

What a laugh. Exactly what was gained by using ground troops instead of bombing, except perhaps an even more strained relationship with Pakistan?

Obama overruled Gates, siding with those who wanted to deploy the elite Navy SEALs, securing the biggest victory in the 10-year war on terror

You see, wiping out the Taliban in Afghanistan and winning the war in Iraq were nothing compared to killing Osama Bin Laden as he was holed up in his ‘mansion’ cut off from the world.

Gates’s tenure had difficult moments, too. Three years ago, he rejected requests from Gen. David McKiernan, his then top commander in Afghanistan, for more troops, believing there weren’t enough resources.

Three years ago would place this during the Bush Presidency.

Gates stayed the course until 2009, when he argued for the troop surge that now appears to have stalled the insurgency.

Gates acknowledges a historical similarity to the Vietnam War. “There is one parallel that I think is appropriate, and that is we came to the right strategy and the right resources very late in the game,” Gates says. “President Obama, I think, got the right strategy and the right resources for Afghanistan—but eight years in.”

It sounds to us like people knew "the right course" at least three years ago. And, in fact, they realized the right course when they saw ‘the surge’ in Iraq work, four years ago. (A strategy Mr. Obama opposed with every fiber of his body.) So, if anything, Mr.Obama was late to the party.

By the way, aren’t we losing the war in Afghanistan? If not, why are we negotiating with the Taliban and trying to find a quick way out?

In Afghanistan, Gates leaves behind a difficult, unfinished piece of business: to convince Congress and war-weary Americans that any major U.S. withdrawal should be delayed by a year—a deferment sought by military commanders on the ground. Likewise, Gates won’t be around for what may be the most delicate aspect of the exit strategy—trying to broker reconciliation between the Taliban and the Afghan ruling parties aligned with the U.S. …

In the end it really doesn’t matter what Mr. Gates thinks about the wisdom of leaving Afghanistan now or later. We will be forced out when the money runs out, which will be very soon.

And sadly, that will be like Vietnam, where we actually won the war, only to lose it again when Congress ended the funding.

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, June 20th, 2011. Comments are currently closed.

7 Responses to “Retiring Gates Warns About A Weakened US”

  1. River0 says:

    Until Americans recognize that ‘progressives’ and Democrats have planned this for decades – savagely attacking all true patriots, the military, and those who hold American principles sacrosanct – our decline will continue and accelerate. ‘Progressivism’, socialism, and Marxism are opportunistic diseases of neglect and ignorance. Our fellow citizens are derelict and passive in the face of their own destruction.

  2. BigOil says:

    Sadly, Gate’s concern with his own ‘legacy’ trumps his patriotism. If he were truly looking out for our country, he would call out the boy-Marxist by name. Instead, he takes the path of least resistence like most of the CEO’s have in the private sector.

    • Rusty Shackleford says:

      This is because of the all-too-common position people now take in all walks of life: “What can I do about it?” “It’s better to not make a fuss and draw attention to oneself.”

      Don’t make waves and have the whole universe put their telescopes onto you, lest you be shown as a madman. The planet has been sorely lacking in courage to stand up and go the distance as the media will make short work of anyone who lacks the resolve to stand up to them. Palin is showing them how to do it, even and yet, they cower in fear and just want to fade into the mist while protecting the millions they have “earned” in public office so they can now retire and not be bothered with the mess they helped create.

      ROME….anybody listening?

  3. Petronius says:

    Steve : “Vietnam, where we actually won the war, only to lose it again when Congress ended the funding.”

    Bears repeating.

  4. Petronius says:

    “may open the administration to charges of not believing in American exceptionalism….”

    I was re-reading C. S. Lewis’ little masterpiece, “The Four Loves,” and was struck by the part about love of country and patriotism … and by how little of what Lewis wrote applies to Nerobama. In fact, the juxtaposition is violent.

    Lewis identified several “ingredients” or “sentiments” that go into love of country :

    The first ingredient is love of home, the natural affection we hold for the place where we grew up, and for places near to our home and places similar to it. This includes the familiar, pleasurable associations we form in childhood, the people, sights, sounds, tastes, and smells that we drink in like mother’s milk. They are perhaps the things we would miss most deeply if we had to leave and move overseas, or the things we might recall most fondly in our dotage. These are the sort of things like Mom, baseball, and apple pie that form our love of home, that drive our simple patriotism at gut level.

    Nerobama, on the other hand, comes to us as almost a homeless man, a man without roots, who has lived nowhere and everywhere––but never in “our America.” He is not culturally American. He had no American playmates, no exposure to things American, never celebrated the Fourth of July, never ate a hot dog or a plate of bacon and eggs, never played baseball, went to Sunday school, caught a crawdad, or went fishing in an American stream. He instead recalls growing up as a boy in Indonesia, where he learned the Muslim “Call to Prayer” in Arabic, which he fondly describes as “one of the prettiest sounds on Earth at sunset.”

    The second ingredient in our patriotism is a particular attitude toward our country’s past. This means our legendary past as it lives in popular imagination, including our country’s great heroes, and not the strict textbook history. For Americans this means the Mayflower Pilgrims, Valley Forge, George Washington, George Rogers Clark, Daniel Boone, Betty Zane, Lewis and Clark, Johnny Appleseed, the Alamo, Robert E. Lee, cowboys and Indians, the Union Pacific Railroad, Sergeant York, Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Amelia Earhart, John Wayne, and all the rest. These images from the past strengthen us. They both impose an obligation, and offer assurance: we must not fall below the standards set for us by our ancestors, and because we are their sons and daughters there is good reason to hope that we shall not.

    Nerobama, on the other hand, was raised by a renegade American-hating mother who lived most of her adult life in Indonesia. She made it a point of pride to be anti-Christian and a radical leftist; she married twice, both times to non-white, Muslim men. She removed little Nerobama from America almost from the moment of his birth. It is highly improbable that he ever had any iconic American heroes or felt any connection to the greatness of America’s past. As a young man his mentor was the communist Frank Marshall Davis, and as an adult his heroes and role models were the American-hating radicals Saul Alinsky and Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

    The third sentiment is a belief that our country is exceptional; that it is superior to other countries, and represents things worth fighting for. Thus most Americans believe in American exceptionalism. Of course people of other countries may feel the same way about their particular countries, too. We recognize that. But in our case we really believe that America is a cut above all the rest. The important point here is not whether America is objectively superior, but that on a subjective level we feel it to be so.

    Contrast Nerobama’s remark: “I believe in American exceptionalism just as I suspect the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.” In other words, he does not think that America is exceptional. Clearly he does not share our sentiments in this regard.

    His comparison to “British exceptionalism” is also revealing because Nerobama resents the British. He has openly and gratuitously displayed his anti-British sentiments on several occasions. Here also Nerobama made an error common to many foreigners and politicians. “Brits” do not love “Britain” –– rather, their attachment is to England, Wales, Scotland, or Ulster, as the case may be.

    Fourth, in view of our exceptionalism, we believe that we incur rights and duties toward the rest of the world. Thus Americans––and especially neo-cons––may feel an obligation to use American power to support freedom and democracy elsewhere in the world, and to engage in nation-building on the American model. Where there are duties there are also rights, however, and so this can be a dangerous thing, an easy path to aggression. Thus in the late-1930s the Germans felt that, as a result of German exceptionalism, they had a right to lebensraum in the East.

    Nerobama said that America has a duty to intervene in the civil war in Libya to stop Qadafi from killing the rebels. Such a duty ordinarily arises as the result of a belief in American exceptionalism. Curiously, however, Nerobama does not believe in real American exceptionalism. His foreign interventionism therefore presents us with a contradiction. Either Nerobama has acted in Libya contrary to his own principles, or the true reason for his Libyan military adventure must be found elsewhere.

    The fifth aspect of patriotism is the most problematic. There is the false patriotism of the man who does not truly love his country, but admires his country only while his country remains on top; as soon as his country is defeated or collapses, he abandons her. Thomas Paine coined the term “sunshine patriot” during the American War for Independence. In the Reconstruction South such people were called scalawags. From 1940-1944, we have the example of Vichy, the Nazi collaborationist government of France. A true patriot, on the other hand, will love his country even in defeat and ruin. As one of the ancient Greeks said, “No man loves his city because it is great, but because it is his.” Such a man will treasure his country even in dire circumstances; like Touchstone’s fiancée, “A poor thing but mine own.”

    As to where Nerobama would stand in this regard, I have my own opinion, and I leave you to draw your own conclusions.

    • Liberals Demise says:

      Wow……Excellent……..Bravo!!

    • TerryAnne says:

      “Fourth, in view of our exceptionalism, we believe that we incur rights and duties toward the rest of the world. . .”

      Very true, but it is (like you pointed out) totally dependent upon the interpretation.

      I’m in the process of reading Terry Goodkind’s “Wizard’s First Rule” series (it is an excellent series that is very right-sided and Randian in its entirety; it is fantasy, but it’s not contrived or ridiculous…definitely worth the read). Anyway, I came across a great passage last night, almost like what you said. I need to look up the specifics on my lunch, but it was something to the effect of: great powers have two roads they can take when it comes to war and their duties to the world: preempt the fight for defense, or wait for the fight to come to them. Both ways have a measure of defeat written in to them, but the former (such as what Zero is doing in Libya) have a far greater chance of failing than if you wait. If you wait, you are immediately making the enemy bow to your terms and you are entering only when you know that you will have the best chance at winning.

      There was a big “discussion” in the previous book about culture and the lead character said – in what has become my favorite quote from a series riddled with great ones – that culture was NOT a reason any group(s) had a right to exist. The stuff I read last night went on to talk about how the super power owed nothing to the people it was going to conquer or fight, no matter which way it went into the fight.

      Taking both of those, this book – written prior to 9/11 – pinpointed exactly what our problem is today (both in and out of war). We owe nothing to anybody except for trying to show them freedom and what it means. This means we don’t need to be building roads in deepest, darkest 3rd century Asia. This means we don’t need to be giving our borrowed money to a country who has proven they borrow too much and cannot pay anything back. This means we don’t allow a bunch of illegals to run around worshipping their homelands and speaking in whatever language they feel. This means we don’t allow Muslim men to force their women to walk 20 feet behind them and their sons (as I saw yesterday here in America).

      We really need to get a clue.


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