Sane people know that Bush fucked up on Iraq. Neocons, still clinging to their extreme idealism (or a stubbornness to admit that they got it wrong), like to argue that the world is a better place without Sadaam Hussein. Defense Gates will soon step down, after having served two American Presidents in that capacity. He was called upon to clean up the mess that Donald Rumsfeld left on America's doorstep. There is, incidentally, a lot of chatter along the beltway that the ever tired SecState Hillary might be the next -- and first female -- SecDef. Interesting, though I'd rather see Secretary Clinton replacing Biden. Obama would be a shoo-in for a second term with Hillary Democrats -- even against the formidable Huntsman.
But back to Gates. This is widely seen as Gates's farewell to the army, this speech at West Point. He has earned the right to deliver some collateral damage to the administration that fucked things up so royally. And he does, which is kind of extraordinary. From The Christian Science Monitor:
As he winds down a remarkable Pentagon career – overseeing two long and very costly wars, wrestling with a military-industrial complex resistant to his budget moves aimed at questionable weapons, and shaking up the senior officer corps – Defense Secretary Robert Gates has a message for his successor.Future wars, Gates hinted, will involve the Navy and Air forces and counteracting cyber attacks. The days of heavy land army use are behind us and he was giving a heads up.
“Any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should 'have his head examined,' as General [Douglas] MacArthur so delicately put it.”
In referring to Iraq and Afghanistan, as he did elsewhere in his speech to cadets at the United States Military Academy at West Point Friday, Defense Secretary Gates was not directly critical of the man he replaced – Donald Rumsfeld – or of the Bush administration’s leading an invasion of Iraq now generally acknowledged to have been based on faulty reasoning, insufficient preparation, and – initially, at least – poor execution.
That’s not Gates’s style. And in fact, Rumsfeld’s inclination was to take Iraq with as few troops as possible, while many of those in the Bush administration predicted a quick victory. No “big American land army” for them.