Excerpts from a CNN story today. Could Gates be a good guy?
(CNN) — The Senate Armed Services Committee unanimously approved President Bush’s nomination of Robert Gates to be defense secretary Tuesday and sent it to the full Senate for approval, the committee’s outgoing chairman said.
Testifying before the committee for hours, he told members the United States was not winning the war in Iraq and that the U.S. course there “over the next year or two” would shape the entire Middle East.
Democratic Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, who will chair the Senate Armed Services Committee when the new Congress convenes in January, asked Gates if he thought the U.S. was winning the war, to which the nominee succinctly replied, “No, sir.”
Later, he clarified his remark, saying the United States wasn’t losing either and that his comment pertained to Iraq as a whole, not just as a military endeavor.
Gates also told Republcian Sen. John McCain of Arizona the “status quo isn’t acceptable” and that the United States invaded Iraq without enough troops.
The nominee said he suspects that in hindsight the Bush administration would have handled some decisions differently, “and I think one of those is that there clearly were insufficient troops in Iraq after the initial invasion to establish control over the country.”
The nominee also told the committee that he was “open to new ideas” regarding policy in Iraq and that “all options are on the table.” In closing, Warner told Gates “to be fearless — I repeat — fearless” in giving advice to the president.
Levin added that Gates faces “the monumental challenge of picking up the pieces from broken policies and mistaken priorities in the past few years.”
Gates has shown signs that he is willing to voice unpopular opinions to the administration. In addition to his criticism of the Iraq war’s handling, Gates also has pledged to improve the Pentagon’s postwar planning.