Once a Bush loyalist always a Bush loyalist
This Woodward account of Robert Gates' new memoir makes me think more highly of Obama:
In Gates’s highly emotional account, Obama remains uncomfortable with the inherited wars and distrustful of the military that is providing him options. Their different worldviews produced a rift that, at least for Gates, became personally wounding and impossible to repair.
Yeah, whatever. It sounds as though Obama and Biden (who Gates loathed) were both skeptical of the military POV on this and that is to their credit. Civilian leadership should be skeptical of the military and challenge it to prove that what it says is necessary is actually necessary. They have many institutional and individual incentives to do otherwise.
Still, you have to wonder what might have been if the Obama team had understood that having a Republican Secretary of Defense would not help them politically. Not much I'd guess. When it comes to national security all president's are dealing with a bipartisan majority that defines itself by its servility to hawkish imperatives.
Just look at this, happening even as we speak, via Kos:
A group of Democrats are joining Republicans in trying to undermine the White House's negotiations with Iran by imposing a new set of sanctions. Fifteen of them, actually, who prefer status quo bluster and threats to diplomacy that might actually do something to end Iran's nuclear ambitions. They are:
This is of particular note:
Bob Menendez (NJ)
Chuck Schumer (NY)
Ben Cardin (MD)
Bob Casey (PA)
Chris Coons (DE)
Dick Blumenthal (CT)
Mark Begich (AK)
Mark Pryor (AR)
Mary Landrieu (LA)
Kirsten Gillibrand (NY)
Mark Warner (VA)
Kay Hagan (NC)
Joe Donnelly (IN)
Cory Booker (NJ)
Joe Manchin (WV)
The Senate equivalent of the Blue Dog caucus is well represented on this list, with Begich, Casey, Donnelly, Landrieu, Manchin, Pryor, and Warner. I've always considered Coons and Blumenthal to be part of the party's business/corporatist wing. But I guess they hate diplomacy too.
The most interesting are Booker and Gillibrand, both harboring presidential ambitions.
They never learn.
The good news is that there is some pressure being brought to bear on these fools from the other direction:
A group of national security experts and American foreign policy luminaries sent a letter on Monday to the primary co-sponsors of an Iran sanctions bill asking them to reconsider the measure, saying it jeopardizes the ongoing negotiations with Tehran over its nuclear program and could bring the United States closer to war with Iran.
You can weigh in yourself if you're so inclined.
After various avenues to put forth Iran sanctions measures recently failed, Sens. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) introduced the stand-alone bill late last month. Nearly 50 senators — mostly Republicans — have signed on as co-sponsors, but the chairs of 10 Senate committees recently wrote to Senate Majority Harry Reid (D-NV) slamming the bill and asking him not to move forward with it. The White House has said it will veto the bill if it passes.
Unless you agree with Holy Joe Lieberman and think a good brisk war with Iran is not only inevitable but just what the doctor ordered.
Update: Also too, from Max Fisher:
... if Gates is going to take shots at Biden on this scale, it's worth asking how Gates would fare under similar scrutiny. I am not appropriately positioned to evaluate Gates's positions on "every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades." But I can tell you how he performed on the single most important one he ever confronted: ending the Cold War. He was, quite simply, dead wrong.
Back in 1985, when Mikhail Gorbachev took over as general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the United States faced a really big dilemma. Gorbachev professed to be a reformer. Should the United States work with him to reduce nuclear weapons, ease the U.S.-Soviet proxy battles that were at that point directly responsible for a number of deadly conflicts around the world and, just maybe, try to end the Cold War? This wasn't just a major, difficult question: It would turn out to be one of the most important U.S. foreign policy decisions in decades.
President Ronald Reagan eventually came around to the idea that, yes, he could and should work with Gorbachev. He was persuaded by, among others, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who famously said that Gorbachev was a man the West could do business with.
But Reagan had to overcome the fierce opposition of a top CIA Kremlinologist and eventual CIA director named Robert M. Gates, who maintained for years that Gorbachev was no reformer, that he was not to be trusted and that Reagan would be walking into a Soviet ploy.
Quite simply, Gates was wrong, overruled by Reagan, and the world was better off for it.
Uhm yeah. It goes without saying that Presidents need to be skeptical of the spooks too.
Update II: Greg Sargent reports on the current state of play on the Iran question. There are some Democrats who are pushing back hard. But about 30 remain "undecided."
WTF? This is a big question for them? With a Democratic president pushing hard for a deal and a decade of expensive, bloody war behind us that got us nowhere? Dear God ...
Update III: It appears that, as usual, it may be mistake to take Bob Woodward at his word.