Yesterday the NY Times leaked the story that Obama was going to retain Secretary Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense. I blew my top quite frankly. I, like many here, am confused and downright angry about the possibility of Gates staying on.
Gates, a lifelong GOP partisan has had his hand in everything from the October Surprise to Iran Contra. This supporter and administrator of the so-called "surge." has no place in a Democratic Cabinet. Many argue that he has helped stabilize both the Pentagon and the War in Iraq. I disagree. The war in Iraq rages on with no end in sight. Extreme acts of violence continue everyday as both Americans and Iraqis die in this illegal occupation. The situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated beyond the point of repair under his watch. Meanwhile military families are denied their loved ones and when those loved ones return the Gates Defense Department denies the help and care they need.
Surprisingly, liberal pundits like Steve Clemmons and Jon Conasonhave signaled their support. While Conason and Clemmons have well reasoned arguments for keeping him on - Conason believes that Gates was really an Iraq War skeptic because of his work on Iraq War Study Group and Clemmons believes that Gates wants to smooth over relations with Iran and work for a more stable Middle East - both really don't address what really concerns me.
Getting us out of Iraq and Afghanistan is going to be difficult no matter what. Obama will have to pull a rabbit out of a hat if he is to remove us from these inherited quagmires. While Gates is generally seen as a realist and not a neocon, he was more than willing to see his hard work on the Iraq Study Group wind up in the dustbin to become SecDef. In the process, he's helped execute the so-called "surge" which has accomplished little but to reduce the violence to "acceptable levels" (whatever that means). If Gates stays on, he will have the ear of president. He will control the information flow from the generals on the ground and will be able to spin it however he wants. Obama will count on him for advise which will invariably be to stay the course in Iraq and double down in Afghanistan. If Obama goes another direction, Gates will be in a position to torpedo any efforts to pull out. Via leaks and whisper campaigns, Gates can undermine Obama. Of course, Gates can always be removed, but that could create an uproar as the single Republican in the Obama's cabinet is summarily fired. Not a great position for a new President to find himself in.
There are many other reasons why Gates shouldn't continue but the point of this diary is direct folks to a new Facebook group which opposes the retention of Gates 1,000,000 Strong Against Keeping Secretary Of Defense Robert Gates. Those who feel the way I do can join this group. Certainly a Facebook group will do little to halt the march to a Gates re-nomination but it's a way to start an exchange of ideas with the objective of stopping this potentially disastrous appointment. Calling your Senators and Representatives to urge them to speak out against Gates is also recommended. Please join.