Robert Gates on War & Peace
Secretary of Defense-Designee
Robert Gates gradually came around to supporting the McChrystal request, and Hillary Clinton did, too. During that period, the two often sided with each other in administration debates; they were happy to show that the secretaries of state and defense could work smoothly together, unlike their immediate predecessors, Donald Rumsfeld with Colin Powell & Condi Rice. The Clinton-Gates combine helped to win over the president to sending more troops, despite the skepticism of other senior administration officials such as Biden; the president was not prepared to override the recommendations of the two departments primarily responsible for foreign affairs. Obama approved the deployment of 30,000 more American troops for Afghanistan, bringing the total to about 100,000, and also called on NATO allies to provide another 5,000 or more of their own.
It is a hard sell to say we must sustain the fight in Iraq right now, and continue to absorb the high financial and human costs of this struggle, in order to avoid an even uglier fight or even greater danger to our country in the future. But we have Afghanistan to remind us that those are not just hypothetical risks.
Eisenhower no doubt had this in mind when he became president during the 3rd year of the Korean War. Eisenhower was even willing to threaten the nuclear option to bring that conflict to a close
We just marked the fifth anniversary of the start of the Iraq war. For America, this has been the second longest war since the Revolutionary War, and the first since then to be fought throughout with an all-volunteer force.
At the turn of the 21st century, the U.S. armed forces were still organized, trained, and equipped to fight short, large-scale conventional wars. And so we’ve had to scramble to position ourselves for success over the long haul, which I believe we are doing.
RECOMMENDATION 21: If the Iraqi government does not make substantial progress toward the achievement of those milestones, the US should reduce its political, military, or economic support for the Iraqi government
RECOMMENDATION 23: The President should restate that the United States does not seek to control Iraq’s oil.
RECOMMENDATION 5: An Iraq International Support Group should consist of Iraq and all the states bordering Iraq, including Iran and Syria; the key regional states, including Egypt and the Gulf States; the five permanent members of the UN Security Council; the European Union; and, of course, Iraq itself.
RECOMMENDATION 7: The Support Group should call on the participation of the office of the UN Secretary- General in its work.
RECOMMENDATION 8: The Support Group, as part of the New Diplomatic Offensive, should develop specific approaches to neighboring countries that take into account the interests, perspectives, and potential contributions as suggested above.
RECOMMENDATION 18: It is critical for the US to provide additional political, economic, and military support for Afghanistan, including resources that might become available as combat forces are moved from Iraq.
RECOMMENDATION 27: De-Baathification. Political reconciliation requires the reintegration of Baathists and Arab nationalists into national life, with the leading figures of Saddam Hussein’s regime excluded. The United States should encourage the return of qualified Iraqi professionals--Sunni or Shia, nationalist or ex-Baathist, Kurd or Turkmen or Christian or Arab--into the government.
RECOMMENDATION 28: Oil revenue sharing. Oil revenues should accrue to the central government and be shared on the basis of population. No formula that gives control over revenues from future fields to the regions or gives control of oil fields to the regions is compatible with national reconciliation.
RECOMMENDATION 29: Provincial elections should be held at the earliest possible date. Under the constitution, new provincial elections should have been held already. They are necessary to restore representative government.
RECOMMENDATION 40: The US should not make an open-ended commitment to keep large numbers of American troops deployed in Iraq.
RECOMMENDATION 41: The US must make it clear to the Iraqi government that the US could carry out its plans, including planned redeployments, even if Iraq does not implement its planned changes.
RECOMMENDATION 42: We should seek to complete the training and equipping mission by the first quarter of 2008.
RECOMMENDATION 43: Military priorities in Iraq must change, with the highest priority given to the training, equipping, advising, and support mission and to counterterrorism operations.
RECOMMENDATION 50: The entire Iraqi National Police should be transferred to the Ministry of Defense, where the police commando units will become part of the new Iraqi Army.
RECOMMENDATION 51: The entire Iraqi Border Police should be transferred to the Ministry of Defense, which would have total responsibility for border control and external security.
RECOMMENDATION 53: The Iraqi Ministry of Interior should undergo a process of organizational transformation to exert more authority over local police forces. The sole authority to pay police salaries and disburse financial support to local police should be transferred to the Ministry of the Interior.
As additional Iraqi brigades are being deployed, US combat brigades could begin to move out of Iraq. By the first quarter of 2008, subject to unexpected developments in the security situation on the ground, all combat brigades not necessary for force protection could be out of Iraq. At that time, US combat forces in Iraq could be deployed only in units embedded with Iraqi forces, in rapid-reaction and special operations teams, and in training, equipping, advising, force protection, and search and rescue.
An open-ended commitment of American forces would not provide the Iraqi government the incentive it needs to take the political actions that give Iraq the best chance of quelling sectarian violence. In the absence of such an incentive, the Iraqi government might continue to delay taking those difficult actions.
We also rejected the immediate withdrawal of our troops, because we believe that so much is at stake.
Approximately 141,000 U.S. military personnel are serving in Iraq, together with approximately 16,500 military personnel from twenty-seven coalition partners, There are roughly 5,000 civilian contractors in the country. A mission [of all aspects of training Iraqi troops] could involve 10,000 to 20,000 American troops instead of the 3,000 to 4,000 now in this role.
Violence is increasing in scope, complexity, and lethality. There are multiple sources of violence in Iraq: the Sunni Arab insurgency, al Qaeda and affiliated jihadist groups, Shiite militias and death squads, and organized criminality. Sectarian violence --particularly in and around Baghdad--has become the principal challenge to stability. [The largest militia], the Mahdi Army, led by Moqtada al-Sadr, may number as many as 60,000 fighters.
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George W. Bush (R,2001-2009)
Bill Clinton (D,1993-2001)
George Bush Sr. (R,1989-1993)
Ronald Reagan (R,1981-1989)
Jimmy Carter (D,1977-1981)
Gerald Ford (R,1974-1977)
Richard Nixon (R,1969-1974)
Lyndon Johnson (D,1963-1969)
John F. Kennedy (D,1961-1963)