In Gates’ words, "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. It didn't have to look over its shoulder because our economy was so strong. This is a different time.
"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.”
What Gates is effectively saying is not that economic forecasts are gloomy. US defense spending comprises less than five percent of the federal budget. If US President Barack Obama wanted to maintain that level of spending, the Republican-controlled Congress would probably pass his defense budget. What Gates is saying is that he doesn’t trust his commander in chief to allocate the resources to preserve America’s superpower status. He is saying that he believes that Obama is willing to surrender the US’s status as a superpower.
THIS WOULD be a stunning statement for any defense secretary to make about the policies of a US President. It is especially stunning coming from Gates. Gates began his tenure at the Pentagon under Obama’s predecessor George W. Bush immediately after the Republican defeat in the 2006 mid-term Congressional elections.
Many conservatives hailed Obama’s decision to retain Gates as defense secretary as a belated admission that Bush’s aggressive counter-terror policies were correct. These claims ignored the fact that in his last two years in office, with the exception of the surge of troops in Iraq, under the guidance of Gates and then secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, Bush’s foreign policies veered very far to the Left.
Gates’s role in shaping this radical shift was evidenced by the positions he took on the issues of the day in the two years leading up to his replacement of Donald Rumsfeld at the Pentagon. In 2004, Gates co-authored a study for the Council on Foreign Relations with Israel foe Zbigniew Brzezinski calling for the US to draw closer to Iran at Israel’s expense.
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.
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