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The Washington Times' Rowan Scarborough, who has had good contacts within the Bush administration, reports today that the new nominee to replace Donald Rumsfeld will have the same goals in Iraq and the war on terror, but bring a new management style to improve the chances of success. The White House views Robert Gates not as a dramatic shift but as a course correction:
Defense Secretary-designate Robert M. Gates is not expected to rein in the aggressive global war on al Qaeda started by predecessor Donald H. Rumsfeld or reverse the transformation of the Army, but instead focus on how to win in Iraq and get American troops home, current and former Pentagon officials say.
"He definitely is not seen as someone wimping out on the global war," said a Pentagon adviser. "How he does it, and what tools, and who he entrusts with them, that's a whole different issue."
Mr. Gates, once confirmed by what Republicans hope will be a December floor vote, will arrive at the Pentagon needing to replace a number of senior aides to Mr. Rumsfeld who set policy on intelligence, special operations and the war itself.
Some other officials Mr. Rumsfeld eyed for senior posts may be discarded because they would not get through a Democrat-controlled Senate, Pentagon officials said.
One particular point that people need to remember is that Donald Rumsfeld didn't set policy, either. That came from George Bush, and Bush remains in charge of foreign policy. Rumsfeld acted as the public face of that policy when it came to war and defense, and Rumsfeld had the responsibility for implementing it at the Pentagon -- but he didn't create it. Rumsfeld acted as a lightning rod, pulling some criticism away from the White House, and suffered the same fate as any other political appointee when the policies proved unpopular.
Gates will operate in a similar fashion, and should allow Bush a little breathing room to recalculate the specific tactics and personnel assignment changes that have to be made. Gates won't get much of a honeymoon, but it will take some time for Democrats inclined to demonize him to realize any success at doing so. The personality differences between Gates and Rumsfeld should also delay that kind of polarization as well, and in the meantime, Bush will continue to push forward with his policies.
Other worries have arisen, outside of specific policy, about Gates' nomination. Jed Babbin, who also worked in the Bush 41 administration at the Pentagon, notes that Gates has no experience or reputation as a military strategist or innovator, given that most of his career was spent at the CIA. Gates provides high-level management experience, but won't be a visionary like Rumsfeld. However, that should give people a reason to believe that Gates will not make changes to Rumsfeld's plans to reinvent the American military. Given the lack of vision that Babbin describes, he's less likely to alter the course of Rumsfeld's plans. As far as military strategy goes, Gates will likely lean more heavily on ranking generals for strategy and tactics, something that Rumsfeld earned a reputation for avoiding, fair or not.
I'm inclined to give Bush the benefit of the doubt on this appointment, at least until we see what Gates has in mind. Bush has a history of appointing tough-minded and talented Cabinet officers, and we have no real reason to suspect that he failed in this instance.Sphere It View blog reactions
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Gates Not Likely To Back Down On Iraq, TerrorEd Morrissey The Washington Times' Rowan Scarborough, who has had good contacts within the Bush administration, reports today that the new nominee to replace Donald Rumsfeld will have the same goals in [Read More]
Tracked on November 13, 2006 1:54 PM
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