Tuesday, November 14, 2006

More on Gates

There is still a lot of contradictory opinion about Gates nomination to be SecDef. Most of the controversy revolves around his relationship with Cheney and what that implies about the VP's ongoing power in the administration. At Raw Story, Larisa Alexandrovna says that "Intelligence sources question Gates' independence from Cheney, Rumsfeld". She does temper that with some other sources who foresee Gates bringing changes:

Retired US Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, who most recently served as Secretary of State Powell's chief of staff and who has been a harsh critique of the Bush administration, believes that Gates will do well.

"[Gates is] a solid guy who has made his way through the bureaucracy largely by doing what he was asked to do -- and in present circumstances, I believe that will be a positive," said Wilkerson.

Tom Engelhardt thinks that Gates is in favor of negotiations with Iran; that would be a huge policy shift for the administration whose 'surrender and then we'll talk' positions have been consistently disastrous. Tom goes as far as to say:
Gates offers another advantage for those who prefer not to go to war again. The American high command (despite the fantasies of some administration critics) would never refuse a direct order from the commander-in-chief to bomb the gates of Hell out of Iran. However, a civilian Secretary of Defense (whose reputation is at stake) might. So the replacement of Rumsfeld is also significant in this way.
It seems to me that Gates record shows that he is basically a bureaucrat, one who executes policies and not one who makes them. His talents will probably be effective in mollifying the generals, and he'll at least listen to their concerns and pass them on (something that Rummy did not do). But it's hard to believe that he will be a counterweight to Cheney, or that he represents a lessening of Cheney's power. Because if Gates isn't going to lead policy, who else besides Cheney will? The Decider himself, guided by Baker? Condi? I don't think so.


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