Robert Gates: Should We Want Him to Stay?

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bob gates twn.jpg
Bob Gates is keeping his Pentagon perch (which has been quite clear for some time).
I had moved close to the view that Gates should go. My thinking at the time was that Gates played a vital role “Out-Cheneying Cheney” in the last couple of years of G.W. Bush’s term, but that his skill at crunching out the ambiguity in the national security decision making process that Cheney and Rumsfeld exploited would not be necessary in the Obama White House ecosystem.
In other words, one needed Gates to be a constraint on Bush, but why would Obama want to run the risk that Gates would constrain his team?
After speaking to some other national security policy experts very close to Bob Gates and General Brent Scowcroft, I changed course and began to see the value of Gates staying at DoD.
My hunch is that Gates wants a chance to make the kind of leaps in the Middle East I have been writing about for some time. He wants to try and push Iran-US relations into a constructive direction. He wants to change the game in Afghanistan — and the answer will not be a military-dominant strategy. He wants to try and stabilize Iraq in a negotiated, confidence building process that includes Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey and other regional forces. And he wants to support a big push on Israel-Palestine peace and reconfigure relations between much of the Arab League and Israel.
This is a big order. And he wants to lurk in the shadows, behind the scenes and away from cameras and let other of Obama’s team get the spotlight and credit.
National Security Advisor-to-be Jim Jones is on the same page as Gates — and the two of them will constitute a considerably strong axis of power inside the Obama White House. My hunch is that Hillary Clinton and her State Department Deputy James Steinberg will work collaboratively to achieve this vision.
It’s a big gamble. There is a large chance of paralysis between big foreign policy/national security guns that don’t like yielding to power rivals in an administration.
But the gamble could be a very big payoff for Obama and the country — and would actually deliver the “change” that so many are expecting.
We’ll see — not trying to be naive or to give Obama too many breaks. But I am trying to understand his choices and how he thinks he’s going to achieve his policy targets.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

64 comments on “Robert Gates: Should We Want Him to Stay?

  1. WharfRat says:

    Rich: Thanks for your follow up comments, and for calling me out on making some hasty generalizations about a pretty massive coalition. I should be clear that I don’t mean all Obama supporters, nor even all supporters who identify as somehow left-leaning, nor even all of those who for very different oppose this or that cabinet or West Wing appointment. It’s true, there’s a bit of a straw man set up here. I suppose, more than anything, that I want to reiterate that Washington isn’t the only place politics happens, and Washington politics aren’t the only ones that need changing. So, while we may not have much control over Washington politics, we do have control over the politics of our daily lives and can strive for more inclusion there in both the ways we speak, and our daily habits.

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  2. rich says:

    Wharfrat @ 11:03am–
    Though I agree that Obama appears to be that rare politician who genuinely seeks common ground, broad-brushing “Obama supporters [in general] as having abdicated their responsibility” is necessarily as incorrect as it is wrongheaded. Why? You generalize about tens of millions of voters, for starters.
    But more important, your assertion replays and extends that patronizing, original false meme that Obama supporters were somehow naive, and had been suckered by ‘pretty words’ and seductive, high-flown rhetoric. Or that we were extremist true believers driven by hate and ideology.
    On the contrary, most were attracted by Obama’s insistence on a common ground defined by the shared interests of all Americans—and the importance of finding a pragmatic path forward that balances competing considerations, without yielding to the intransigent extremes of right or left.
    That in no way implies Obama–or his supporters–should be asked to abdicate that commitment to reconciliation by caving to highly partisan positions or to the extremists who’re still on the national stage. Include the uncooperativeness and intransigence of DLC Democrats if you like.
    We have been the reasonable ones in this campaign. Let’s get it straight. The hyper-partisanship, stonewalling, and subversion of the rule of law on the part of the Bush administration (& its enablers)—has comprised the radical, ideological and hostile faction on the national stage—and still does. It’s plainly Orwellian to actually claim that Obama supporters “have abdicated their responsiblity” to change the ethos and interpersonal dynamic in DC. It’s a little early for that, don’t you think? We haven’t had the inauguration, yet somehow the onus is on us? Seriously.
    Here’s the thing. It’s possible for all us “Obama supporters,” all those millions of us, to hold two ideas in our heads at the same time. It’s not a contradition to simultaneously understand and affirm, as we always have, Obama’s thoughtful middle ground and purposeful reconciliation—and reasonably critique some of his appointees based on their judgment and record. It’s eminently reasonable to critique the full embrace of hyper-partisan policy extremists who’ve virtually eviscerated the body politic on the way to consigning the nation to crises foreign and domestic.
    The open question is whether those appointees can overcome the failed policy assumptions that’ve so poorly served us. There’s no question, though, we’re in dire need of a substantive course correction, on multiple fronts, that can’t be accomplished by averaging the positions of ‘right’ and ‘left’.
    Clearly not all Bush veterans are ‘tainted’—yet many remain badly discredited. Fresh blood trumps another rerun with the same tired cast of characters. There’s no reconciliaton or change of tone if the last wave of hyperpartisans don’t need to acknowledge any misdeeds, repair any bridges or change their behavior.
    Again, bear in mind: I’m still confident in Obama and think the supporters underestimate him as much as his current detractors on the liberal side.
    I like many of Obama’s appointees, including Clinton and Gates. I like th Geithner pick—and the way he’s arranged Summers and others around him. Which doesn’t mean the critiques aren’t valid—it just means Obama will avoid absorbing huge costs while he capitalizes on the current experience of appointees already working on various crises.
    Think about Gates. Just as Obama ‘colonized’ the Clinton political bloc, he will also gain access to and buy-in from the Gates bureaucratic franchise at CIA and Defense. With Gates’ stature and judgement and 30 years at CIA at his disposal, Obama will be immunized from some unforeseen pitalls and bureaucratic hostility. It’s not just the continuity: Obama needs to establish a strong & deep relationship before making major policy alterations, and only later could he install his own people if that’s what he needs to do.
    Gates is problematic (even highly so) for other reasons (Iran-Contra), but knows where the bodies are buried, and Obama will need someone reliable to watch his back in the new intel/DHS/Defense institutional environment.
    I’m confident Obama will find an effective way foward and won’t disappoint most thoughtful supporters. And that won’t involve acceding to the failed national assumptions that delivered failed policies one after the other.
    Obama won’t tackle every issue immediately, but it’s more than fair to criticize the same-old same-old. To provide game-changing methods and policies, there has to be some game-changing policies offered up.
    This isn’t a matter of having Obama march in lockstep with some imagined ‘left-ish’ ideology. It’s a matter of whether your appointees and those already in Washington are willing to actually follow instructions, contribute constructively–and in some cases, subtantively change their ways. Erk! Excuse me–while I shed an unbidden tear for the I guess entitled! but heretofore un-annointed—John Brennan.

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  3. antiphone says:

    antiphone — you seem to be new to this blog community though I see that you have been around the circuit a bit. i hoped that you felt that this blog was too boring — or too tired as you called it pushing the same old line — for you to stay around much.
    No problem.

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  4. TonyForesta says:

    And thankyou too my brother, or sister, (no offense intended). I, like you, desire and intend to change America. You offer a middle way, and an approach that we can all work toward to right our wayward course. I do not agree with every decision Barak has made, and he is not officially our president, – but I recognize that the greater good is inclusivenesss and involving as many of our fellow Americans. Thank you for presenting a balanced and intelligent response, and for recognizing that however incendiary my commentary may be, – that I exist.
    Peace.

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  5. Carroll says:

    Posted by daCascadian Nov 26, 2:02AM – Link
    Clearly most of the people posting here have NO CLUE about running a bureaucracy. It is all about persuasion & getting buy in on policies.
    Give up the junior high school dreams folks and start living in the real world.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    I hate to be the one to tell you darling…but the bureaucracy run by “persuasion and buy ins”..in other words…”politics” is exactly why America is in the condition it is in.
    I would say that the junior high school folks are the ones in congress (and the public) that think governing this country thru congressional little boy and girl party interest and quid pro quos is the way to make a country work, are the ones not living in the real world.
    As proof.. I offer the ‘real world’ current conditions in the US brought about by incompetence and corruption as an example of faulty assumption that ‘political persuasion’ is the way to run a country.
    Anyone dumb enough to accept the same kind of bureaucracy we have had for 40 years deserves whatever they get.
    Obama is not going to be able to turn the US around unless he destroys the rot in the existing bureaucracy…if he thinks he can bend it to his will without cleaning it out first he is as stupid as Bush thinking he could jaw-jaw Russia by gazing into Putins eyes and calling him “Puttie”.

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  6. WharfRat says:

    Tony: let me be clear, by the normal blog standards, you’re certainly very family friendly. I don’t take any personal offense or anything to the way you’re speaking here — and between you and me, two people who largely agree, I would speak the same way you have been. I only wanted to say in my comments that in terms of getting our ideas some traction in a world where people don’t agree with us, it can be really helpful to work on expressing them in ways that resonate outside of circles of agreement. In part it helps get to the central core of the issue and can help us think about the concrete ways the last 8 years have left their mark on Americans — beyond their pocketbooks, which everyone has been feeling, and even beyond the Iraq war, which many Americans have felt.
    The things which are burning issues in the Democratic-leaning blogs, but which get nary a mention in places like NRO’s Corner blog require lots of work, largely because we, that is you and me, pretty much inhabit totally separate worlds of discourse with totally different salient issues providing the underpinnings. I learned how different these worlds were trying to gently tell my mother that Barack Obama wasn’t planning to have the State take over and administer all the hospitals as part of some socialized medicine program.
    Anyway, thanks for the productive conversation and for keeping me reminded just how goddam important these issues are, and that the stakes in reestablishing a new vector in American political life are truly very high. It’s important not to get so non chalant about how scary the last 8 years have been. Like I said, I don’t think we’ll even know how scary in my lifetime since it will be left up to future historians.
    and so, to bed…

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  7. TonyForesta says:

    My language has been honed by years deception and abuse by the bushgov and by interactions (blogging and in socalled reallife) with individuals whose brutish language, blooddripping threats, and supremist attitude make my language seem Disneyesque.
    Perhaps I am a little to hot for this site. I’ll temper my speak.
    Gates is a bushgov insider with some questionable Iran Contra links, though your assessment of him is accurate. And so it is. I personally have lost all trust, and faith, and respect for the bushgov. Yet, I am just a dad. I have no voice, and until January 20, no representation in the government, and a government that is more oppressive than any I have known. I am truly hoping this dynamic will change, because from my pedestrian perspective, America was, and is moving fast in all the twisted vectors of fascism. Nothing like the fascist tyrannies of the past. No, this is a new kind of 21century fascism, fascism ++, a technocentered, stealthy, expertly shadowed fascism and may be something far less destructive then Nazi Germany or our various misdealings with tyrannic despotic puppets in the ME, Latin America, and Asia – but fascism of a lesser degree is still fascism.
    I accept your poetic assertion that “to make appointment by Bush a litmus test for future governmental service,” is unfair, or unjust and hear your and other commentarians discomfort with my language, so the comments must be,… cooler.
    I am hoping beyond hope that Obama’s promise today that “help is on the way” is true.

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  8. WharfRat says:

    Sorry to be AWOL on this interesting, if a bit tense conversation.
    Steve: I grew up in Tulsa, but made many trips as a boy up to Woolaroc to traipse around with my mom and dad. I also have many fond memories of the Tall Grass Prairie preserve. Glad to make contact with another one who shares a knowledge of that part of the country.
    Tony: I want to get back into this a bit acknowledging our agreement on the major substantive issue at stake. I disagree, though, about the US becoming fascist, which is a term I think gets a bit over-used colloquially, and the term loses any sort of analytic leverage. When I think of fascism I tend to think of a constantly mobilized society that is organized from above: the sort of intense corporatism in which civil society is controlled by some arm of the government. I agree more with writers like Sheldon Wolin who call the US an “inverse totalitarian” regime — sort of the inverse of fascism: keeping the public immobile and apathetic while providing the veneer of freedom of association and speech. I would say that the Bush administration has demonstrated qualities that would lead me to classify it as more “authoritarian” than “democratic” at this point. Having said that, I’m currently living in southern Mexico, and I guess I don’t really buy the arguments that the US has really even approached the repressive climate that exists here.
    If we’re going to legitimately learn from the last 8 years, we’re going to have to do that through structures that make sense to even those Americans who are intensely loyal to George Bush, both at the elite and rank-and-file levels; otherwise it will not have any legitimacy, and indeed, it might be less legitimate because it includes fewer voices. We don’t need an Inquisition. Making people understand why all of the probable and definite violations of the the Constitution matter requires a different conversational stance than one that talks about “shredding” the Constitution, or tainting democracy, or considers the last 8 years a malignant historical cancer. You start talking that way outside the party faithful and you get nowhere. My guess is that most everyday citizens couldn’t care less about the Constitution — and before the Bush administration the Cato Institute and other right-wing organizations were the ones most interested in pushing knowledge of the Constitution. In general, most people want to be able to work for a living and want to go about their daily lives without interference. And, for my money, that’s fine — that’s essentially where I’m at, although part of my work depends upon understanding the Constitution and American history. If it didn’t, I can’t honestly say that I would care all that much. If we’re going to make any progress on getting some form, not of accountability for, but of education from the last 8 years, we need to get everyone on board. This is the “change” I see Obama representing — the constant refrains that recall both Jane Addams and Martin Luther King, Jr. about our being knit together in a single garment of destiny. What effect do these truths have in people’s daily experiences? Answer these questions, and then we’ll make some progress on moving forward from the last 8 years without putting them in the historical memory hole.
    I think it’s more a matter of what conversation we choose to build around the issues, and how many people we invite to participate in the conversations by constructing them inclusively. These aren’t matters, as you note, Tony, of Republican or Democratic importance, they are matters of national importance, of moral importance even.
    Now: to return to the post at hand. I gotta be honest, I don’t know a damn thing about Robert Gates other than he was brought on to restore some semblance of order and reasonableness to the Pentagon in the wake of Rumsfeld. My recollection (could be wrong) was that he was essentially someone from Daddy Bush’s rolodex that was believed to provide some counterweight to the Cheney cabal that otherwise runs the shop. Per my comments above, I don’t think that it’s fair (or particularly inclusive) to make appointment by Bush a litmus test for future governmental service. And I don’t think it’s unfair to the potential appointees, but to some higher principle of (I dunno) justice(?) or something like that — if we say Robert Gates and Condoleezza Rice, say, are morally equal in their complicity with Bush/Cheney mistakes, simply by virtue of their service, then we absolve them of whatever specific choices they made while in service. The major variable doing the moral work here is “working for Bush” rather than “doing nothing diplomatically resolve the Israeli bombing of Lebanon.” Maybe Robert Gates isn’t the man for the job, but it wouldn’t be because he was appointed by Bush.

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  9. LisaB says:

    I’m not at all confused by partisanship and I know it when I see it.
    Democracy survived the Civil War, the Guilded Age, the great Depression and plenty of bad presidents. We will survive this failed frat boy too.
    WA Note, you really should fix the captcha. It always takes me at least 4 tries to post, even when I have the characters right. All public commentary should be as freewheeling as the Washington Post, which only requires a free registration (no passwords or character entries necessary). We’re not making bank transactions or purchases, what’s with the hypersecurity??

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  10. TonyForesta says:

    First, the definition you printed is the perfect description of the policies and conduct of the bushgov over the last eight years. Thanks for validating justification for using the word fascist to describe the bushgov.
    Secondly, while “Bush (MAY) not seeking to undermine the transition” and that’s a big ‘may” from my perspective, – the bushgov is responsible for funnelling 7.4TRILLION, that’s trillion in the last year to the finance sector alone, who are largely responsible for conjuring, cloaking, and perpetuating the economic crisis, which in my mind is an example of “seeking large-scale regimentation of society for the fascist movement, as well as the economy and military of the country”. .01% of the population, and the criminals and fraud who created this mess are gleaning almost all the economic support and largess from the bushgov, – and the people – as usual – are of absolutely ZERO interest or concern. It’s economic fascism, ongoing, without restraint, review, or remedy for abuse.
    The pardoning party that is certain to ensue is another example of lawlessness and shielding or cloaking of cronies and cabals from accountability.
    Also, these criminals are still in power, and we have no idea what further machinations they will attempt, – but I put nothing past these criminals, will not sleep comfortably until January 20.
    Lastly,
    While we may not agree with every decision Obama makes, rest assured my sister, that we are thrilled, hopefull, and overjoyed that Barak is our president. Further, we trust, – that unlike the previous administration who were and are exclusively and singularly focused on advancing the interests, and engorging the off shore accounts of the superich and the predatory class without restraint, and who had, and have absolutely ZERO concern for, or interest in middle class or poor Americans, – contrarily – the Obama administration will work to give voice to the voiceless, and focus much more on advancing the best interests of middle class and poor Americans, and some degree less on the predator class. We cannot ask for or expect much more from a leader.
    You confuse questioning decisions, with partisanship. We are overjoyed that Obama is our president, and fully support him, including keeping Gates as SecDef for a while. I disagree personally, but I support Obama’s decision.
    Peace

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  11. TonyForesta says:

    Echoing Mr. Clemons compliments above Wharfrat, you again present many strong points in a very balanced post.
    For me, and it may be a minority opinion, America has been severely, – perhaps permanently – damaged by the criminal actions and conduct of bushgov. We, America must now somehow manage the unwinding of our economy and the end of our irredeemable debt finance model and capitalism as we once knew it. We must also repair and rebuild America’s standing at home and abroud to some semblence of our former glory. These are daunting challenges, and will require brilliant leadership and the Herculian efforts, and many sacrifices from all Americans.
    The world has changed, and America’s days as lone economic superpower are over. Our position in the new world economic order will (if things work out) or should be powerful, – but much diminished. Critical in this necessary process of change is getting the Ameican middle class back to work, and back our economy back on some kind of stable ground. Also critical is re-establishing ourselves as a nation that abides by, and honors the Constitution and the rule of law.
    There are many very serious crisis facing this country, that will take years or decades to fix and manage, and the decisions the Obama team make in the next weeks, months, and years will ultimately determine if we regain stability, – or fall completely off the cliff.
    No one wants, or is suggesting that all the efforts necessary to address these many calamities be put aside to focus on holding the bushgov accountable for a festering legacy of crimes, abuses, deceptions, and wanton profiteering, – but neither can we, in my opinion – simply walk away and close our eyes and ears to the painful truths of the last eight years and suspend rule of law and the Constitution for political expediency.
    Something must be done. What that something is, remain an unknown unknown, but doing nothing in my opinion is intolerable, and cowardly.
    I hear many good arguments bespeaking ov why holding the bushgov accountable is not a very likely, or possible, or realistic prospect.
    But if I could bring it to a personal level in countering these positions, – it is important to me that we as a nation, and the Obama administration attempt (at least) to take whatever steps are reasonable to hold the bushgov accountable and uphold, honor, and abide by the rule of law and our Constitution. It is important so I can explain to my daughter, and her generation and all my many foriegn friends that we, that America are changing. We are peacefully, in an orderly manner, and legally as a nation, but we are indeed CHANGING, that we are in fact a nation of laws, and a people who honors the law and the Constitution – and that no one, – NO ONE, is above or beyond those laws or the Constitution.
    A thousand thanks for your “thoughtful” commentary.

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  12. DonS says:

    Lisa, when I think of Bush the fascist, I relate it mostly to his undermining of democracy of the US of A. That’s plenty weight for me, and having lost the bulk of my family in the Halocaust I don’t make light of fascism; and because it may exist in degress is no reason to avoid calling a spade a spade.

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  13. LisaB says:

    From Wikipedia:
    Fascism is a totalitarian nationalist ideology[1][2] that seeks to form a highly-centralized autocratic, single-party government of a country led by a dictator, which seeks large-scale regimentation of society for the fascist movement, as well as the economy and military of the country. Fascists typically seek to form mass movement of militants who are willing to engage in violence. (end quote).
    Not only is Bush not seeking to undermine the transition, I think he’d like to get out of town today, if he could (and we’d all be mighty happy if he did!)
    I don’t mind colloqualisms, but only when they are used in less weighty situations, and we are a long way from real fascism here in America in 2008. A lot of people died under real fascist regimes and if you think what Bush is doing in Iraq and Afghanistan qualifies, or is as bad, check out American policy over the past 50 years in Iran, Cuba and almost all of Central and South American. It’s not pretty.
    But back to the present day, MarkL is correct.
    Clinton on Israel: “Israel is a great and stalwart friend of the United States”.
    Obama on Israel: “Israel is a great and stalwart friend of the United States”. See any daylight?
    I would add, speaking only for myself, that these huffy pronouncements that Hillary “never apologized” or “didn’t learn her lesson”, are paternalistic in the extreme and generally not applied to her male counterparts and would most likely not have played nearly as a large a role in their primary campaigns (see, Biden, Joe).
    With regard to the President-elect, Obama has also suggested military action against Pakistan and just under this Gates article in the Daily Beast today, as well as elsewhere, you can find firm denials of any Bush policy war crimes prosecutions. It all adds up to the same thing: Obama will proceed cautiously and from the middle. He has never projected nearly as radical an image or agenda as his most ardent supporters would like to believe, and the sooner you absorb that reality, the easier the next 4 (or hopefully 8) years will be for you.
    I’m familiar with the Cold War Kids, and I don’t expect that Obama will “hang us out to dry”. either with Gates or any other appointment.

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  14. DonS says:

    MarkL says “I just don’t understand the ado over the comment on “obliterating” Iran, should Iran make a nuclear attack on Israel. Well, DUH!”
    I know you’re serious but 1) its race baiting. 2)Its hypothetical at best, therefore of incendiary in value only. 3) Its nonsensical given the (hypothetical) disequilibrium of ‘potential’ arms and retaliatory consequences
    MrrkL says “Obama holds exactly the same position.”
    I don’t know that. Perhaps you are generalizing too much. After all why else whould Hillary have said what she did if not to attempt to differentiate herself from Obama.
    MarkL says “Furthermore, Clinton is the ONLY candidate who offered an alternative to pre-emptive war, in her
    ‘umbrella of deterrence’ proposal for Middle East countries. Maybe it’s a bad idea, but give her credit for proposing an alternative to bombing Iran, something Obama has failed to do, IMO. His rhetoric on Iran is quite hawkish.”
    The umbrella of deterrence sounds like something serious but actually would embroil the US further in the regional morass. I don’t even like to think about splitting hairs between the two of them because they both may well simply be in AIPAC’s pocket. But the idea of preemptive war with Iran is a necon wet dream, not a sane policy alternative, therefore insinuating it inefitability is a false choice. In any case, saying Obama has favored preemptive war, as you imply, goes way beyond a reading of his statements, though I heartily agree he is way too willing to be way too hawkish in the way American politicians have learned to genuflect.
    Now let’s see if Obama is ready to make good on some of his saner, less hawkish rhetoric. That makes a whole lot more sense than just throwing stuff against the wall which is the way Hillary’s “obliterate” statement struck me.

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  15. MarkL says:

    I just don’t understand the ado over the comment on “obliterating” Iran, should Iran make a nuclear attack on Israel. Well, DUH!
    Obama holds exactly the same position.
    Furthermore, Clinton is the ONLY candidate who offered an alternative to pre-emptive war, in her
    ‘umbrella of deterrence’ proposal for Middle East countries.
    Maybe it’s a bad idea, but give her credit for proposing an alternative to bombing Iran, something Obama has failed to do, IMO. His rhetoric on Iran is quite hawkish.

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  16. DonS says:

    Dan, very nice summary of the brief against Hillary’s positions; all very valid, verifiable and, for a presidential contender, over the top, particularly in the case of “obliterate Iran”. But of course she was in full desperation mode at that point and bet the farm
    As to using the word “fascist”, it of course has a colloquial meaning, which seems perfectly legitimate when used in the case of the Cheney cabal. But the more literal meaning of wishing and tending toward establishing a totalitarian regime seems to fit to in many instances. So, LisaB, you may not like it, but a lot of us around here feel not in the least embarrassed about calling a spade a spade. Sorry if you can’t take us seriously. Years of observing ‘fascist-like’ behavior has been convincing.

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  17. TonyForesta says:

    Look up the word fascist LisaB, compare with the ideologies, policies, conduct, and machinations of the bushgov and get back to me. I realize the term is incendiary, but what then can you say about the conduct and machinations of the bushgov. I cannot take people seriously who throw away facts and reality and language that describes policies, conduct and machinations that are in fact exceedingly incendiary. The term though incendiary is accurate because the policies, ideologies, conduct and machinations of the bushgov are best described by that term. Please don’t ignore or blame the messenger, and ignore or blame the message.
    Bush was NOT legitmately elected, and tragically the system was perverted or subverted by the fascists in the bushgov and did NOT work. Hense our dread concern and the tragic castrophic bloody costly results.
    This is a debate that will continue for decades, and it will not be resolved until there is a serious independent investigation, examination, and analysis of both the 2000 and 2004 elections. Since we do not have any serious independent investigation, examination, and analysis of these elections, and all the facts remain cloaked in darkness and secrecy – you can hold to your opinions, and I will hold to mine with all due respect.
    For many of us, Clinton would have been our choice, had she admitted that her vote blindly granting the fascists in the bushgov unchecked authority to attack Iraq based on a pile of lies, exaggerations, and dodgey OSP OSI concocted disinformation, and the ghoulish exploitation the dead and mayhem of 9/11. She stubbornly held onto her vote, and in my opinion that reason alone is why she is not President, and Barak Secretary of State. While most of the other male senators held a similar record, most of them also came out publically to recant thier votes and admit regret. Hillary did not, the rest is history.
    Check out Cold War Kids. Love that band.

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  18. LisaB says:

    First of all, I can’t take people who throw incendiary terms like “fascist” around seriously.
    Like it or not, Bush was legitimately elected, at least the second time and the Supreme Court didn’t do anything illegal in ending the recount the first time. I didn’t like it either, but it is the way our system works.
    Secondly, my point was about Hillary being singled out for her Iraq war vote and her Senate record, when most of the other (male) Senate Democrats have similiar voting records. Put in some time on the Armed Services Committee before being so quick to judge.
    Finally, I’m a “former” Deadhead because that’s all over now. Now I’m a Radiohead-head. :)

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  19. Steve Clemons says:

    WharfRat — very interesting, thoughtful posts. Thank you.
    Just out of interest, where in Oklahoma are you from? My family is from Bartlesville.
    best, steve

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  20. WharfRat says:

    LisaB: *former* Deadhead? What happened?
    To extend what you’re saying re: Obama’s moderate left-centrism — I would even avoid the language of “centrism” but I think moderate is fair; pragmatist, rather than pragmatic, maybe. He certainly makes lots of concessions to corporate interests. Since the birth of the modern American corporation in the last half of the 19th C., however, business has had the reins of American politics, with the possible exception of a few years of the New Deal. These are the historical realities, so there’s a little “getting used to it” that needs to happen. Though, by “Get used to it,” I think I would mean: let’s as progressives think about ways to build cross-class coalitions that take advantage of some of the weaknesses in the constraints that a historically pro-business government creates. Not resign ourselves to it (not that I think this is what you mean, LisaB) — but learn to adapt. Also, if you look at the history of successful social movement in the United States, cross-class coalitions are a pretty good predictor. I suppose this is why I prize listening so much.
    TonyForesta: Mendacity definitely defines this last 8 years; as does apathy and amnesia. Mukasey collapsing while essentially making speech that seemed to say “don’t charge us with war crimes” seems almost hackneyed, though wholly representative of a particular historical moment. Personally, GWBush and Cheney, and most of the West Wing are most certainly war criminals according to international law; do I believe it will happen? Absolutely not. But, I don’t think it’s quite fair to lay this at the feet of the President-elect. If any other nations files charges against elites in the military or executive branch, as Spain did in order to hold Pinochet accountable in Chile, the US will fight with every strategy it knows to prevent any sort of extradition. Like Kissinger, most of these oafs will be confined to remaining in the US for the rest of their lives.
    All of this is to say, I agree with you substantively. It pains me that no corporations (GE, ITT) were truly held accountable for conspiring with the Nazi regime to provide material support during WWII; we still haven’t made up for the radical injustice of Japanese internment that also defined that period. Look, there are countless injustices that have not be properly reconciled — and I don’t believe these will be any different. I’m very glad that people, like you, are so adamant right now about reminding us of the nightmares it will be left to the historians to fully expose. I applaud the Obama administration for making closing Gitmo a priority. And I have some glimmer of hope that there will be a move made to establish something of a 9/11-style commission on torture and interrogation policies.
    If you’ll permit me, I need to run to the market. So I’ll have to extend this conversation for a couple of hours. I appreciate your feedback and want to do justice to your position, but I’m running late.
    until then…

    Reply

  21. TonyForesta says:

    “The terminally outraged on the left,” are indeed outraged, but not terminally. You can dismiss that outrage if you so desire, but you miss the critical point. We are not channeling James Dean, “(“what are you rebelling against? “whattaya got?”)” – nor are we interested in dividing left from right, conservative, from liberal, or democrat or republican. The outrage you obdurately dismiss and attempt to diminsh is very specifc and tageted. The fascists in the bushgov must be held accountable, and America must repudiate every single policy, and ideology bruted and advanced by the fascists in the bushgov.
    You’re lumping lefties LisaB, and ignoring the specific point and impetus for the outrage, (not terminal outrage).
    To me the heart of the divide, is imbedded in two mutually exclusive beliefs. Those who believe that the abuses, failures, crimes, betrayals, and wanton profiteering of the last eight years are the result of good intentions badly executed, and that democrats do it to, – and those who believe the fascists in the bushgov are a criminal regime, bent on world domination and wanton profiteering, and intended to destroy America in order to erect a totalitarian dictatorship with the fascists reigning Olympian and unchallengeable.
    To those who blanketly dismiss the latter camp, (and I am an admitted member of that camp) – look around you. Is the carnage that is America today, the oceans of innocent blood on our hands, the imponderable trillions of dollars in debts and deficits heaped on the shoulders of our children, the wild and radical rapidly increasing divide between thehaves and thehavenots, the grotesque perversion and betrayal of the rule of law, the dismemberiing, dismantling, and reengineering of the constitution, the dumbdowning of America, and the epic collapse of our systemically corrupt banking and financial system the result of good intentions badly executed, or have crimes been committed.
    We are witnessing the most devastating unwinding of values and deleveraging or subtraction of wealth in America’s history, and no one – Not one CEO, COO, CFO, or one regulatory leaders, or any politician has been held accountable for anything, or even indicted for anything. How is that possible? It is possible, because until January 20, fascists (though mortally wounded and weakened, much like Nazi Germany toward the end of the war) remain im power and control and continue unchallenged and unchecked the ruthless rape and pillage of America and the funnelling of American middle class wealth into the off shore accounts of the superrich, the predator class.
    Gates, is on for at least a year, so now you will see that the terminally outraged left will accept this decision and moveon.
    We will never except the criminals, abusers, pathological liars, traitors, and wanton profiteers in the bushgov walking away unaccountable.

    Reply

  22. Dan Kervick says:

    LisaB,
    Believe me, nothing is more excruciating for me than having to rehash the substance of the great Clinton debates, which I really hoped we would be able to put behind us forever.
    But it is Clinton’s supporters, more than her critics, who seem fixated on the Iraq war vote. The supporters have convinced themselves that that one, sole, isolated action is the whole basis of the opposition to her. And that seems unfair to them. But for her opponents, Clinton’s war vote was only part of a broad pattern of hawkish pronouncements, posturing and decisions extending over her entire Senate term, but really picking up in the years heading into her run for the presidency, which also included the Lieberman-Kyl vote and her statements and activities during the Israel-Lebanon war. There was even a period of time during 2006 when she was actually positioning herself as more hawkish than the Bush administration on Iran, and was criticizing Bush from the right. She also maintained a strong aversion to up-front diplomacy in dealing with Iran, and seemed to defend the Bush position that Presidents of the United States must treat meetings with foreign leaders as something like regal audiences reserved as ceremonial rewards for good behavior. This suggests to me she was still living in a triumphalist mid-nineties world that no longer exists. Then, of course, came the “obliterate them” comment.
    All of these positions reflected an orientation toward extreme solicitousness for Israeli security concerns, and for the like concerns of Israel’s many zealous supporters in the US, and a decision to tack to the hawkish side of camp working on those concerns. Other Middle East issues – Gulf security, oil – she tended to neglect in her prominent public statements.
    Whether these positions sprang from moral conviction or political calculation, I don’t know. But the practical effect is that she made a political bet that there would be no such thing as being TOO pro-Israel in the United States in 2006, 2007 and 2008. And I would say she bet wrong. It turns out that it is possible to go overboard in that department.
    Now maybe she will change once she is freed from the necessity of running for re-election in New York, and will move toward a more sensible position of, if not exactly evenhandedness, at least a realistic and balanced assessment of US interests in the Middle East that extend beyond the concerns of one particular US ally. And we have yet to see which way Obama himself is going to go here, although the appointment of Jones is moderately encouraging.

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  23. erichwwk says:

    First, kudos to Steve Clemons for the relevance of his recent posts.
    While I would have wished for circumstance that would have been appropriate for framing “security” in an even broader perspective then I believe Bob Gates is willing to do, sadly we do not have those circumstances, and must acknowledge that.
    While I am not a Robert Gates fan (it is hard to forget the Iran Contra years), I do acknowledge his competence, and the merit (hopefully for a one year period) of focusing on our economic institutions and NOT having the major military budget battle that we eventually MUST have at this time.
    Rather than discuss WHO should head DOD, perhaps we could accept Gates conditionally, and focus on defining a better role and scale of military processes. And that might start with an Afghan “surge”, a policy where Gates might even be to the left of Obama.

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  24. ed says:

    “The comments tarring Hillary Clinton as a “warmonger” are especially idiotic”
    Perhaps a smidge too strident, but hardly “idiotic.” Senator Clinton voted for the Iraq Resolution, aggressively supported the unsupportable Iraq Invasion, never apologized for doing so, and didn’t learn her lesson in that she voted for Kyl-Lieberman. That these positions, as much as any other factor, sank her campaign to be the Democratic nominee helps restore my faith in the Democratic party. At least a little bit.

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  25. Tuma says:

    Wharfrat pretty much nails it.
    You say better many things I’ve thought and tried to express.

    Reply

  26. ed says:

    “Why can’t the Pentagon be trusted to Democrats?
    Must it always be a Republican?”
    Exactly. It’s bulljive to satisfy the media Villagers (e.g., Chris Matthews et al) who accept this bulljive wisdom. There are plenty of worthwhile candidates who are not Republicans (not to mention have Iran-Contra on their resume). The most recent Republican SecDefs have not made me or my family any safer. Quite the contrary. Retaining a Republican in this position is not change in which I can believe.
    (But if Gates can be used as cover to get us the hell out of Iraq, repeal DADT, and what have you (with Gates’ pre-approval), then I’m cool with it. We’ll see.)

    Reply

  27. LisaB says:

    Thanks to Carol, BillR and especially Wharfrat for your thoughtful comments. I am a former Deadhead, so I can guess how you chose your screen name.
    The terminally outraged on the left, apparently channeling James Dean (“what are you rebelling against? “whattaya got?”) seem to have voted for the Rorhshach Obama, not the actual candidate. It might be helpful to remember that Obama only spoke against the war, he didn’t actually cast a vote against the resolution. And given his votes and comments since, on telecom immunity, gun control and the death penalty, would not cause me to bet my house that he would have voted against it. He’s a moderate left-centrist. Get used to it.
    The comments tarring Hillary Clinton as a “warmonger” are especially idiotic, but the misogynistic double-standard that applied during the primary is obviously still in force. A majority of Senate Democrats also voted for it, including our new VP, but strangely, very little condemnation of Joe Biden as a warmonger is heard.

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  28. alan says:

    Let’s not forget that the world (G 20) is watching. While our preferences and our reactions to same old same old are important Obama is now playing before a world audience. His surefootedness is going to be important. It will not be enough to get our economy re-started; it will also be necessary to regain international confidence and respect. So going with people who are former Clinton officials may be the only option for now if experience is to count for something.

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  29. TonyForesta says:

    You make many strong points Warfrat. While admittedly, those of us more leftofcenter will be dissapointed in some of Obama’s policies and decisions, – we also recognize that government works best when run from the center with as little bipartisanship as possible, and with a general and genuine trust, respect, and goodwill toward our fellow Americans with differing opinions and perspectives. You will see this play out over the coming years as we contest these epic desicions, daunting crisis confronting all Americans. We will be pushing hard for leftofcenter approaches and policies, – but we will also trust, respect, and hold goodwill toward all our fellow Americans – with one single caveat! NO ONE in the bushgov deserves one nanopartical of the peoples trust, respect, or goodwill. The fascist in the bushgov betrayed, perverted, and pillaged America for profit, and many people do not believe it is looking backward or vindictive to honor the rule of law and our constitution, and hold the criminals, pathological liars, fascists, and wanton profiteers in the bushgov accountable.
    The bushgov is forever tainted, it is malignant, and like any cancer, must be excoriated. Of course, not all republicans are lockstep partisans, but those that are, and there are many of them, must also be marginalized for defending, supporting, shielding, cloaking, and apologizing for a criminal fascist predatory regime that wildly divided, and may have destroyed America for thier singular and wanton profit. That camp must make the far larger reaches across the isle, and far more significant compromises, – not our camp, or those in the center. The fascists in the bushgov and their lockstep partisan will never compromise with anyone. Anyone who disagree’s, or questions, or challenges, or opposes, or dissents with the fascists is automatically slimed as anti-American, unpatriotic French loving spawn of the devil giving aid and comfort to the enemy. These scurrilous aspersions are gurgled out of the fascist camp and the far right, – not the leftofcenter, or centrist camps.
    Now it may be unfortunate, for a few gentlemen or women like Gates, who are decent public servants, and probably far more centrist than their fascist leaders, – but removing them and replacing them with others, democrat or republican is the price the nation must tally for the systemic and endemic crimes, abuses, deceptions, betrayals, perversions, and wanton profiteering of the fascists in the bushgov.
    The is no reaching across the isle to the fascists, there is no possible compromise. The entire criminal regime must go. Further, there will be a strong push from our leftofcenter camp for accountability and recompense.
    This push is targeted specifically at removing the malignancy of, and demanding accountability from the criminals, traitors, abusers, predators, pathological liars, wanton profiteers, and fascists in the bushgov, – not the gop in general, or conservatives, or rightofcenter, or centrist American.
    All the other camps can follow your intelligent suggestions above, and we can all work together in the spirit of respect, trust, and goodwill to pilot America through these stormy sea’s.
    But the fascist must go!!!

    Reply

  30. JimD says:

    Why can’t the Pentagon be trusted to Democrats?
    Must it always be a Republican?

    Reply

  31. WharfRat says:

    I think that many of those frustrated that Obama doesn’t offer the “change” he promised need to take a look in the mirror and see how their own responses to the problems of governance are actually more continuous with the politics of the past 25 years, as opposed to the appointments the have been officially announced, and those that are currently being fought for (but which have not been finalized).
    After the election, Obama’s supporters have abdicated their own responsibility to change politics in Washington in part through beliefs like “anyone appointed by Bush is tainted.” Or anyone in the DLC must go. Neither of these beliefs offers any realistic movement forward toward the progressive goals I have in mind because it puts us in a fairly small-minded place where people, based on their associations and/or inferred (or actual) group membership makes them suspect.
    Some people might have been deluded by their hope that Obama was going to kick the moneychangers out of the temple, but from where I watched the campaign, he seemed to be a fairly centrist guy, policy-wise. Saying we need to get out of Iraq didn’t strike me as a radical position, given that everyone in the country also thought so. What did strike me as radical about his campaign was the strong sense that Obama genuinely cared about finding common ground from which people with either reasonable or irrational disagreements could at least work together and listen to one another. It seems based on comments here and the general feeling in the blogs that other people missed that particular aspect of Obama’s campaign for change.
    In a government of the people, making changes in the way government works means changing the way we think about and talk with one another; all of us are Washington, whether we live there or not. “Change,” then, requires a big effort, and an acknowledgment of our own shortcomings and small-mindedness. I don’t want to put that all on people here, so I’ll tell you a little of how this campaign pushed me toward change. My parents live in Oklahoma (it’s where I was born and raised). It’s a conservative state, that I had written off after leaving as soon as I graduated from high school as being the last hold out of bigots, ignorant rednecks, and amazingly deluded evangelicals. My parents raised me in a fairly evangelical church, which they still attend. My father, a small business owner, voted for Bush twice, and I knew he was voting for McCain. He’s a longtime supporter of Jim Inhofe. My mother would rather not vote, but feels it’s her obligation, but has an impossibly difficult time making up her mind because she hates all of them, politicians that is. She’s a classic low-information voter (the sort that people on a variety of blogs probably hurled epithets toward during the campaign) that the day before the election remains undecided. Now, as someone who identifies as fairly progressive, you can imagine the tensions that would arise here — and I usually just avoided talking about politics with them because I believed there was no getting through to people with such well-entrenched, and, to me, bizarre beliefs about politics. If you caught me in a particularly mean mood, I might have just told you that it was no use talking to those people who had been tainted by their backward hinterland mentality. (Talk about forgetting where you came from…) During the Obama campaign, rather than hit them over the head with reasons why they should support this black Democrat, and decided to approach politics, not head-on, but obliquely and really listen to them about why they believed what they did about government. I learned a lot more about where they are coming from, and perhaps more importantly, developed a genuine curiosity to come to know them better. I’m about 50% sure they still voted straight-ticket GOP, but that’s not as important to me as the fact that I feel more called to a place of listening rather than judgment. I know these aren’t matters of dire policy, and I know that in these times, most matters of policy are dire, but I don’t think the ways we interact with one another are apolitical or unimportant. And in any case, they are good lessons to learn when thinking about how to have conversations about policy. Anyway, that’s the sort of change I believe in these days.

    Reply

  32. Zathras says:

    The Defense Department has seen two radical shifts in how it was expected to operate within the government in the last eight years, once when Donald Rumsfeld came in and again when he left and Gates replaced him.
    With the economy in crisis and sure to absorb most of the new President’s time, it wouldn’t make sense for President-elect Obama to try imposing a third such shift unless Gates were clearly not up to the job. Now, I don’t agree with the course apparently being laid out with respect to Iraq, but I will not be President. Barack Obama is, and it’s his policy. He judges that Robert Gates will carry it out for him at the Pentagon, without adding a time-consuming transition there at this time.
    I think the last clause is important. Gates’s retention seems to me clearly an interim measure; I don’t see him staying longer than a year or so. At the end of that time a Democratic successor, probably Danzig already ensconced in the Deputy Secretary’s office, can be named. I’ve been critical of Obama’s apparent choice for Secretary of State, but with regard to Defense I agree with his decision and his reasoning.

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  33. Bill R. says:

    The left-wing ideologues will continue to be “disappointed” by Obama. But they weren’t paying attention to his rhetoric or his actions obviously. I like the fact that he has been consulting with Scowcroft. Scowcroft has been a long time proponent of reality based, not ideology based, diplomacy, which is why he had no ear in the W era. Thanks for the excellent analysis, Steve, once again.

    Reply

  34. DonS says:

    Dan Kervick says ” . . .the globe has reached a crisis situation in which the high levels of interdependence and integration of the global systems are not matched by the institutions of global governance that are needed to coordinate the activities of this system. . . ”
    Deceptively simple, but provocative observation. Two things: 1) you really stepped in it now you old world governmentalist! Just like the wingers always knew. Just like the UN, a prelude to world government. So much for America as we knew and loved it. ER, at least up until I lost my home, blah, blah, blah. 2) Maybe we are not looking or thinking in the right terms, without getting too conspiratorial, to recognize the “systemic” nature of managed chaos that already exists. The winners and losers, and the mechanisms that connect the winners, even if they are relatively amorphous. And in what causes do the threat and use of American military force play into the hands of the winners?

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  35. DonS says:

    Obama was for change.
    Gates signals more of the same.
    Simple as that.
    ————
    Dan Kervick thinks ‘Gates’ says Obama is kicking the can down the road a year or so.
    Steve Clemons thinks ‘Gates’ says Obama’ is kicking things in the Mideast into high gear.
    We’ll see.

    Reply

  36. Dan Kervick says:

    Carol, I think the issue here is that experienced and powerful people don’t join an administration just to fall in line and obey. They bring their own views and priorities to the job, and want and expect some autonomy and policy-making influence. People like Bob Gates and Hillary Clinton are not just going to become Obama-Borg and be absorbed into the collective, and take marching orders from Obama. They surely have their own very firm and definite views about the direction the US should be headed, and in exchange for agreeing to serve in his administration, they probably extracted certain commitments from Obama about how much influence and free reign he would give them to pursue their favored directions.
    The concern is not so much whether the faces are new or old. It’s whether they agree with Obama’s strategic plans and are prepared to execute them enthusiastically. And I think we still don’t have a clear enough sense of what those strategic plans are.
    Is Obama going to pursue a sort of Restoration policy, where he looks mainly to restore US power and bring the global system back to the Clinton-era characteristics it possessed before it we were so rudely interrupted by Bush? Or does he really have a vision of a very different and new global order?
    In my own view, the globe has reached a crisis situation in which the high levels of interdependence and integration of the global systems are not matched by the institutions of global governance that are needed to coordinate the activities of this system. The global economic debacle is just one example of this failure. Environmental and energy challenges are another. The Iraq war was another: a spasm of the dying old order.

    Reply

  37. samuel burke says:

    ray mcgovern tells us why gates is more dangerous than
    rumsfeld……
    ray mcgovern, former cia analyst and co-founder of veteran
    intelligence professionals for sanity, discusses the prospect of a
    proper presidential intelligence briefing in an obama
    administration, what questions obama should ask his foreign
    policy gurus about iran, how the nt finally got the georgia story
    right, how russia’s recent show of force helped put the kibosh
    on an iran attack, cheney’s false flag operation fantasies and
    why robert gates is a greater threat to peace than rumsfeld.
    http://antiwar.com/radio/2008/11/17/ray-mcgovern-14/

    Reply

  38. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    Steve said:
    Sounds like a plan to me. As the late General Bill Odom said, the Iraq War is the greatest strategic mistake in US history. Thus it will take some doing to extricate ourselves from the mess. This will require a multi-year process includng a complete rethink of our Middle East policy, serious policy designed by serious policymakers, implementation of the policy by serious professionals (diplo, military, intel).
    Our country is at war. It is prudent to retain Sec. Gates as a transitional figure for six months or a year. General Jones would bring much needed serious professional leadership to the National Security Council as an institution and be right there for President Obama 24/7.
    A new Middle East policy should necessarily be part of a new comprehensive, systematic, and integrated National Strategy appropriate to the emerging multipolar world in which we find ourselves. Such as new strategy must fully optimize the diplomatic, economic, political, psychological, and military tools at our command.

    Reply

  39. carol says:

    I think by Obama keeping Gates on, is a good move..he seems to have done a good job so far and I feel he would be an asset to the Obama team.
    It appears they both seem to be on the same page and that is a good start.
    We keep hearing this thing about ” how is that change” because Obama does not appoint a whole set of NEW faces!!!
    Why do they have to be NEW faces, if they have the experience and they all seem to have that so far, what is the problem??
    I feel Obama is more concerned about how things and policy are “changed” in Washington, not necessarily putting brand new people into positions that he may feel don’t fit the bill.
    Change to me personally is having a government that is honest and will work for the people, I don’t care if they are not NEW FACES, I want people in charge who know what they are doing and that is more important surely.

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  40. Steve Clemons says:

    curious observer — I realize that you aren’t thrilled with the
    explanation I’ve tried to offer at what the Obama administration
    might be up to……but that said, your “Rahm Rahm, Rahm, Rahm
    Rahm Iran. . .” bit should be a classic…..I may use that again
    someday if things go south.
    POA — I need another dramatic pic. . .the one you recently sent
    reminds me of a dark, high risk assembly that Obama is putting
    together..
    More later, steve

    Reply

  41. Steve Clemons says:

    antiphone — you seem to be new to this blog community though I see that you have been around the circuit a bit. i hoped that you felt that this blog was too boring — or too tired as you called it pushing the same old line — for you to stay around much.
    but if you are, then you must be a resposible commenter, and i expect you to contribute your own ideas and suggestions. You have a beef with anonymous comments from senior officials — whether they talk to the new york times or with this blog. i’m not about to change what i do — but your point about responsible reporting has merit, so i will leave those discussions and items up. But your comment about this blog being a home for neocons in the Dem establishment and linking that to my having been Exec Director of the Nixon Center is wrong-headed, uninformed, and not aware at all of how this blog has been a central response point to both neoconservatism on the right and liberal interventionism on the left.
    So, if you are just here to be destructive and attack, your posts will be removed and you will be banned. Simple as that.
    Anyone here will tell you that I like debate and don’t get miffed (too often) when people challenge my views or blog posts. But to attack my past like you did yesterday is over the line.
    I’m leaving it for now — but I hope you’ll take these comments constructively and become a better commenter here — even if you don’t like my themes and posts. That’s OK — but the attacks are not.
    best regards,
    steve clemons

    Reply

  42. Curious observer says:

    Gates wants to “try and push Iran-US relations into a constructive direction?” The man who said last spring Iran is “hell-bent” on acquiring a nuclear weapon? Which was around the same time Hillary entertained fantasies about “totally obliterating” Iran?
    Sing it now: Rahm Rahm Rahm, Rahm Rahm Iran…

    Reply

  43. TonyForesta says:

    Really antiphone? Look around you. There is nothing but failure, horrible, catastophic failure on every level, in every arena, on every important issue. I challenge you here to name one single accomplishment, one thing that in any way benefited working class or poor Americans under the fascist leadership of the bushgov. Sure .01% of the population reaped outrageous fortunes and realized extraordinary largess from the government, and heaped billions of the peoples dollars into off shore accounts, – but I challenge you here to name one single gain, or one single benefit that any working class or poor American can claim under the fascists in the bushgov.
    “The institution of the Presidency of the United States” under the fascist in the bushgov is a total failure, in every arena, on every front, in every way, and without dispute. There is nothing but FAILURE in the bushgov, unless you are superrich. If you are superrich, if you are amongst the predator class, then yes – the fascists in the bushgov are a tremendous success. You are even more superrich than you were in 2000. But even your ilk will eventually suffer hazard and pay the terrible economic consequences of a government that is a total complete unadulterated FAILURE in every way, on every scale, in every arena, and in every measurable way.

    Reply

  44. antiphone says:

    TonyForesta, you just don’t understand. The institution of the Presidency of the United States is too big to fail.

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  45. TonyForesta says:

    “Running a beauracracy” has NOTHING to do with turning our backs on systemic criminality, shutting our ears to pervasive deception, or walking away from treasons and betrayals, or tolerating wanton profiteering daCascadian.
    We are all for running a beauracracy, – but we repudiate and reject a fascist totalitarian dictatorship wherein the fascist leaders deceptively hoist themselves above and beyond the law, and rape and pillage the people for the wanton profiteering of the fascists regime in power amd thier cronies and coteries in the predator class.

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  46. antiphone says:

    “Clearly most of the people posting here have NO CLUE about running a bureaucracy. It is all about persuasion & getting buy in on policies.
    Give up the junior high school dreams folks and start living in the real world.”
    How persuasive, you obviously know what you’re talking about.

    Reply

  47. daCascadian says:

    Clearly most of the people posting here have NO CLUE about running a bureaucracy. It is all about persuasion & getting buy in on policies.
    Give up the junior high school dreams folks and start living in the real world.
    [Once again your captcha has no idea what it is displaying – third attempt]
    “Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear.” – William E. Gladstone

    Reply

  48. Dan Kervick says:

    I’d guess that keeping Gates also sends a clear signal that we are going to be in Iraq for at least three more years. The SOFA permits us to stay that long, but people have wondered whether Obama would stick with his 16 month proposal. Since Gates is an architect of the SOFA, I’d say this vote of confidence means the 16 months just got doubled.

    Reply

  49. TonyForesta says:

    The signals are mixed. The American people must muster the courage and the wisdon to recognize and accept that every single policy and every single appointee of the fascists in the bushgov is an enemy and a threat to Ameirca’s future, and MUST be rejected, repudiated, recanted, and renounces carte blanc. The fascists in the bushgov and thier lockstep partisans in the gop are singularly and exclusively bent on advancing the superrich, the predator class. Every other American is nothing but at an integer, a digit, and nameless worthless x or o in their fascists machinations. The god and patriotism blandishments and pathological lies pimped by the fascists in the bushgov have absolutely zero subtantive value. Look around you. Look at the carnage that is America. Look at our dire economic situation. Loot at our standing in the community of nations. Every single policy, appointee, ideology, or machination of the fascists in the bushgov must be forcefully repudiated and condemned. America must make an about face. A total rejection of the vile, preverted, treasonous policies and wanton profiteering of the fascists in the bushgov.
    We are being raped. We are being abused. We are being robbed. The bushgov and every single fiend, shade, shaitan, partisan, pathological liar, redneck, and fascist in the bushgov MUST be repudiated, rejected, and removed.
    All of them without exception! All of them. Every single bushgov operative must rejected, removed, and condemned!!
    ALL of them without exception!

    Reply

  50. Dan Kervick says:

    I wonder what Obama’s foreign policy team would have looked like if the global credit meltdown and collapsing economy hadn’t shown up on the scene. He has had to change his priorities and focus, and will be spending most of his first two years pushing through a complex domestic legislative agenda and economic rescue package that now looks to be substantially bolder, and even revolutionary and New Dealy, than the one he ran on. And he will be working with world leaders to administer emergency economic medicine on a maddeningly complex and interdependent patient.
    I’m thinking that he has decided he needs to punt some of the foreign policy issues down the road for a year or so: just make sure we get through a year *without* Israel attacking Iran, and *without* Pakistan or Afghanistan blowing up in our faces, and *without* any major incidents involving Russia and its near abroad, etc.
    But we won’t know what to expect until Obama gets beyond the stage of naming his team, and lays out an actual agenda. We’re all waiting to see whether we are going to get a change to a substantially new direction, or just a change to greater competence and better diplomacy in executing the same old, same old.

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  51. TonyForesta says:

    NO! Anything, or anyone pimped or appointed by the fascists in the bushgov is malignant. The Sofa agreement may benefit the fascists in the bushgov, but every American and every Iraqi will dearly in blood and treasure by allowing the fascists in the bushgov to remain and wantonly profiteer in and from the ongoing crime scene in Iraq.
    Gates may be a nice guy, but he is a bush appointee and so forever suspect. There are many more talented and committed candidates to fill the SecDef spot than Gates. America, and the Obama administration must turn it’s back on, and repudiate every single fascist policy of the criminals and pathologicals liars in the bushgov.
    Does anyone examine the horrors that are facing America? You fools, you idiots. This carnage, the horrorshow, the costly bloody rape of America is singularly and exclusively the provenance of the fascists in the bushgov. There is no comprimise. There is no reaching across the isle. There is no bipartisan negotiation process. Every single policy and machination of the fascists in the bushgov, and every individual hoisted as a messsage-force multiplier, or propagandists, or operator of the fascists in the bush government MUST be forcefully repudiated and removed from positions of leadership.
    Paulson is thugging the American people, raping us, robbing us blind and feeding the superrich and the predator class exclusively. No other American will ever see, or recognize any benefit from Paulson or Bernake’s fascist elitist machinations.
    Every single person, – every single appointee, or officer – or administer appointed by the fascists in the bushgov must be removed, and replaced. The majority of Americans voted for Obama on a mandate of CHANGE! CHANGE means CHANGE! Change does not mean staying the stupid fascist predatory wanton profiteering course. CHANGE means CHANGE. All the fascist in the bushgov, and all the apologists, defenders, supporters and every single appointee or collaborator with the fascists in the bushgov must go. They must go.
    Let Gates go back to the University of Texas, where he wants to go anyway, and replace him with someone who actually cares about the American people, who will actually work in the American peoples best interests, and NOT pursue the fascist policies and wanton profiteering of the criminals and pathological liars in the bushgov.
    Again, every single bush appointee must go! Without exception. All of these thieves partisans, hypocrits, wanton profiteers and fascists must GO!!!!

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  52. antiphone says:

    Well bangzoom14 your comlaining so why is it funny that “the left wing” is complaining. What would have been funny if it weren’t so painful was the way Bush voters thought he could do no wrong.

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  53. bangzoom14 says:

    You know, it’s kinda funny that Obama is not even in the white house yet and the left wing is already complaining. And may I say rightfully so. Isn’t kinda funny also that all during the campaign, Obama talked about ending the war in Iraq which was his original claim-to-fame topic which drew literally millions to his side. Then towards the end of the campaign, there seemed to be less talk about ending the Iraq war and more talk about cranking up the Afghan war. And now when it comes to trying to unravel this whole economic mess that we have created, the millions of dollars borrowed and spent on the Iraq war is hardly even mentioned. Uhh.. hello? Did I miss something along the way? In my opinion we should not keep any Bush appointee. We need this kinda continuity like we need a hole in the head. Hmmm.. is it my imagination, or is the left wing starting to get nervous? And may I say rightfully so.

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  54. antiphone says:

    Obama identified McCain with continuity and ran against it but now an anonymous “Obama advisor” leaks that continuity looks pretty damn good.
    Obama Plans to Retain Gates at Defense Department (NYT)
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/26/us/politics/26gates.html?hp
    “From our point of view, it looks pretty damn good because of continuity and stability,” said an Obama adviser, who insisted on anonymity to discuss confidential deliberations. “And I don’t think there are any ideological problems.”
    […]
    But it also stirred a debate inside Mr. Obama’s circles, where some advisers worried that the decision to turn to a Republican appointee — something President Bill Clinton did in naming William S. Cohen to the defense post in 1997 — would reinforce the notion that Democrats could not manage the military. “It makes them look like they’re too wimpy to be trusted to run the building,” said one adviser who asked not to be named.”
    ………………………
    That’s right anonymous “advisor”, it looks wimpy because it’s an act of craven cowardice just like leaking that quote to the New York Times while being too much of a chicken shit to use your name. We don’t need this shit from Obama or his “advisors” and we don’t need it from bloggers either.

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  55. Joe M. says:

    Just to point out an excellent comment from Ezra Klein:
    ““Isn’t it amazing,” asks Krugman, “just how impressive the people being named to key positions in the Obama administration seem? Bye-bye hacks and cronies, hello people who actually know what they’re doing. For a bunch of people who were written off as a permanent minority four years ago, the Democrats look remarkably like the natural governing party these days, with a deep bench of talent.” That certainly feels true. But the Bush administration started out with a fairly deep bench. Colin Powell as Secretary of State. Paul O’Neill –a former deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget and a past chairman of the RAND Corporation — as Secretary of the Treasury. Columbia’s Glenn Hubbard as chair of the Council of Economic Advisers. Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Rice providing foreign policy expertise. Indeed, the Bush team was lauded for being such a natural entity of governance: These were figures from the Nixon and Ford and Bush administrations, and they were backed by graybeards like Baker and Scowcroft and Greenspan. What could go wrong?”
    http://www.prospect.org/csnc/blogs/ezraklein_archive?month=11&year=2008&base_name=the_best_and_the_brightest

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  56. Mr.Murder says:

    As for who is where, and who has influence, let consider pragmatic terms.
    Everyone has a price.
    Congress controls the purse strings. Those purse strings are tethered to lobbyists.
    Gambling is the major domestic lobby in America at this time. It’s bought influence into school policy through its use to fund education, a classic mob model front. Is our children learning?
    Perhaps Obama’s familiar with some people wanting to do some major education reform, people ready to try new ideas and reach out to other groups in this new learning process.

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  57. antiphone says:

    “After speaking to some other national security policy experts very close to Bob Gates and General Brent Scowcroft, I changed course and began to see the value of Gates staying at DoD.”
    Fascinating, I can’t help but notice that the people you talked to are anonymous and the reasoning that convinced you… well you can’t say what it was. You follow that with:
    ”My hunch is that Gates wants a chance to make the kind of leaps in the Middle East I have been writing about for some time.”
    Which of course consists of a nice, reassuring story that –moderate left leaning types— would like to hear. You’re selling something with built in deniability, suggesting the story your audience wants to hear is based on information from people –in the know.
    You’re spinning, you’re speculating, creating an impression, whose interests does this serve?

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  58. Mr.Murder says:

    Say what you want, it may have been plausible theater on his own behalf, Gates pushed back hard against Cheney re: Iran at crucial times in the stretch run of the election.
    I’ve seen nothing that suggest he’s personally incompetent. That isn’t to say his mission directives appointed him were. He worked around that as best could be maintained.

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  59. Joe M. says:

    By the way, the ideologies matter a lot. You yourself (John C) said that the president is too busy to do everything himself. Ok, well, then you must assume that his appointments will often be doing things without explicit and direct oversight. They may explain their ideas, and the president may vet/veto some of them, but they implement policy, not the president. and that gives them a lot of leeway to do things.

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  60. Joe M. says:

    My essential point, without fighting out the details, is that Obama is appointing a centrist republican/DLC cabinet ideologically. Ok, that’s one thing. But what makes it totally insufferable is that these are the STATUS QUO people of yesterday. There are no leading voices for any type of change here.
    And further, they are not necessarily the “people who get things done”. They are the Bozo/Stars who want it all for themselves.
    I don’t know much about Geithner, and I guess an argument can be made that continuity in economic policy is especially important now. But it is undemocratic for him to appoint the same old gang when he ran on “change”. Even if this sorry bunch of people are effective, it is undemocratic.
    There are thousands, probably hundreds of thousands of effective people who do represent change. Obama has not appointed a single one. Not one. He even went so far as to appoint a buffoon like Bill Richardson to something he has no expertise in. He plans to appoint the three-ring circus show of Hillary Clinton (who is a war monger) to the top diplomatic job. He puts Larry Summers (not only of yesteryear, but also a media nightmare), who might be smart, but tell me one economics professor who isn’t? Now there is talk of Dennis Ross and Powell? And he is keeping Gates? For god’s sake, it is pathetic in the extreme. If these are the best people there are, then America needs to start praying more.
    AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, IT IS UNDEMOCRATIC. WHY DIDN’T THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ELECT HILLARY OR McCAIN? BECAUSE WE WANTED CHANGE. NOT THE SAME OLD GARBAGE.

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  61. John C says:

    Although I think Joe makes some interesting
    points, I’m with Steve here.
    First, and foremost, one can’t view the foreign
    policy team (or any of its constituent parts) in a
    vacuum. Yes, Presidents need to be able to walk
    and chew gum at the same time. But, President
    Obama’s first year in office is going to be
    consumed with economic matters and big domestic
    policy reforms. The bandwith he will have
    available for deep hands-on involvement foreign
    policy will be far less than any President in
    modern memory. I wish that were not the case but
    I think assuming otherwise is foolish.
    As a consequence, appointing folks with little or
    no executive experience, albeit smart ones with
    good ideas, is a luxury. We can’t afford a repeat
    of Les Aspin at the Pentagon. (Who cares whether
    the next Sec Def wants a limited military by the
    way? What does the President want?) We can’t
    afford Jeff Sachs as Secretary of State. It’s not
    that he’s not qualified, it’s that these jobs
    aren’t just a matter of qualifications or
    intellectual wattage, they are a matter of fit for
    a particular time. Men or women who might have
    gotten appointments before September of 2008 might
    not get the benefit of the doubt today. The Obama
    Administration needs a higher share of veterans
    than I would have preferred were I passing on this
    question one year ago. He needs people that he
    can give high level direction to and know that
    they’re not wasting time learning how to do the
    job at the same time.
    By the way, the political stars/bozos comment is a
    cheap shot. Geithner is not a star, nor is he a
    bozo. Clinton, although a star, is not a bozo.
    Holder is not a bozo.

    Reply

  62. DonS says:

    I notice the way Steve’s comments are often, almost maddenly, nuanced. And of course well informed. Makes almost any well articulated post persuasive.
    But here, I’m going with my gut. Too much continuity of a disaterous and failed policy — that Obama “opposed”. Bush wouldn’t have hired Gates if they weren’t singing from the same basic sheet. We don’t need that kind of stinkiin continuity. Its actually incredible when you think about it. Iraq, the ultimate lying, criminal, disaster. And we’re going to hire on the current DOD guy? It’s about the last place I buy the bipartisan argument.

    Reply

  63. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Oh yeah, heck. As Maliki targets political and religious opposition, and we continue to pay off the Sons of Iraq while Maliki arrests them, who better to bullshit us about the “success of the surge” than Gates? I mean, hey, he’s got it down.
    If they replace him, they’ll have to train a whole new liar. Unless of course they can get that ass kissin’ general Petreaus to replace Gates. He’s already trained.

    Reply

  64. Joe M. says:

    Obama’s appointments have been universally disappointing. I am on the left, but I say that in general, not only because of political ideology. What bothers me most about Obama’s selections is that he has done nothing to breathe new life into policy decisions. He has re-hashed old personalities who have long since proven useless. It seems that he has done more to promote continuity than to promote change. It has been thoroughly undemocratic of him! The people would have voted for Clinton, had they wanted to recycle the same old garbage.
    Further, this is not a team of rivals in the least, it is a Team of Bozos. It seems that any person who’s name is famous in Washington, whether they were good or bad, has a shot at a top job. Maybe McCain’s ads about Obama being a celebrity were right, cause all he seems to be doing is appointing political stars.
    Why not go out of the box and appoint someone who wants a limited military as the Sec. of Defense? Are there even such people in Washington? Maybe there are some CATO people who have military experience? I don’t know the best people, because the military is so ubiquitous that it drowns out alternate voices, but there must be a whole crew of solid realists. Maybe Scott Ritter for Under Sec of Arms Control or something….
    For positions at state, I would much rather see a team of professors, than a team of failure ex-diplomats and Washington insiders. It’s amazingly ironic and undemocratic the way Obama is appointing Clinton’s whole gang, including Mrs. Clinton herself, even though he ran for “change”. What good is voting for someone who simply lies to you and does whatever they want as soon as they are elected? Even if he makes the policy and they don’t, at the very least this is a betrayal. Why not someone like Jeff Sachs for State? Or, at least as World Bank Pres, or USAID head.
    But, truth is, there are some interesting conservatives out there. Why not appoint undersecretaries who range the political spectrum? lefties and righties?
    Personally, especially economically, I would love to see him appoint everyone from Ron Paul to Larry Summers to John E. Roemer. The whole spectrum… As long as they are reality based. And let them fight it out for themselves.
    Why did he run as wanting to change the political environment in Washington? It’s a disgrace. I want him to change Washington. I don’t want a single person with top level Washington experience on his team. They should clearly be highly experienced.

    Reply

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