Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Senate confirms Gates

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Robert Gates is the new defense secretary. After an easy ride through the Senate Armed Services Committee -- easy because Gates was honest and realistic about Iraq, a notable shift away from Rumsfeld's bombast -- the full Senate approved him by a vote of 95-2.

And who were those two? Republicans -- yes, Republicans -- Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Jim Bunning of Kentucky. And why did they vote against him? Because, according to Bunning, "Gates has repeatedly criticized our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan" and "believes in directly engaging rogue nations such as Iran and Syria". Santorum, who appears to have lost his mind along with his seat, if he even had much mind to lose, gave a blustery speech on "Islamic fascism" and claimed that Gates is not "up to the task".

I have my own reservations about Gates, but he seems to be a good choice, relatively speaking, to replace Rumsfeld. But to criticize him because he has been critical of the U.S. and wants to engage in diplomacy with Iran and Syria is ridiculous. It's about time someone at the top turned a critical eye to what have been rather unsatisfactory efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. And it's about time for some diplomacy, even with unsavory interlocutors like Tehran and Damascus. Going it alone clearly hasn't worked out too well.

For more on Gates, I recommend Fred Kaplan's typically excellent piece at Slate. The above image is from The Washington Post, where you can find a profile of the new SecDef.

Bookmark and Share


Post a Comment

<< Home