Congratulations President Bush, you have finally picked someone with a brain to head your military. You have finally admitted your ignorance and brought in someone who has some knowledge about intelligence and war.
Just hours after the bipartisan Iraq Study Group released their findings on Dec. 6, the Senate confirmed Robert Gates to replace Donald Rumsfeld as the new secretary of defense with a 95-to-2 vote.
Gates, who is a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency and current president of Texas A’M University, said during his confirmation hearing Tuesday that one of his first acts would be to travel to Iraq to consult with American ground commanders. This sounds like such a no brainier, but it is also something Bush and Rumsfeld failed to do enough.
“The situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating. There is no path that can guarantee success, but the prospects can be improved.” These were the first lines of the report released by the Iraq Study Group, which gave 79 specific recommendations to improve the situation in Iraq and prevent a possible regional conflict.
The confirmation of Gates is certainly great news for our men and women in the military. At least now it will give them some hope of coming home soon. While I fully understand that this may not be enough to convince Bush to accept the miserable failure of his Iraqi adventure, a message clearly delivered by the press reports, retired generals, think-tank studies, opinion polls and, most importantly, congressional election results just last month.
“Our course over the next year or two will determine whether the American and Iraqi people and the next president of the United States will face a slowly but steadily improving situation in Iraq and in the region or will face the very real risk, and possible reality, of a regional conflagration,” Gates said to the Senate’s Armed Services Committee. “What we are now doing is not satisfactory. In my view, all options are on the table in terms of how we address this problem in Iraq.”
Gates has a chance to help not only our troops and our country, but the whole Middle East. A change of strategy toward Iraq and the Middle East is crucial and Gates is the right man for the job.
“No one can guarantee that any course of action in Iraq at this point will stop sectarian warfare, growing violence, or a slide toward chaos. If current trends continue, the potential consequences are severe,” said the Iraq Study Group’s report. “Because of the role and responsibility of the United States in Iraq, and the commitments our government has made, the United States has special obligations. Our country must address as best it can Iraq’s many problems. The United States has long-term relationships and interests at stake in the Middle East, and needs to stay engaged.”
Wow, finally there is someone in this country who believes the U.S. has interests at stake in the Middle East.
Gates will be sworn in and formally begin work on Dec. 18, more than a week after his official confirmation.
Until then, we all have to wait and see what is going to happen. This is definitely a great step, but it needs a lot of follow-up and support from our president.