Monday, February 12, 2007

Gates condescension not helpful

Mr. Gates was brought in on the morning of Mr. Bush's crushing electoral thumping, many thought as a friend of dad sent in to clean up the youngster's mess, and many hoped as a bellwether of change to help repair the wreckage US foreign policy since 9-11. The straight talking Rumsfeld was sent to place where he can continue to influence US foreign policy without sitting so plainly on the dartboards of the angry and disappointed.

Strangely Gates proved to be not a jot of substantive difference as his first act Defense Secretary was to champion Bush's depressing implementation of a troop surge. (Apart from being a bad idea, it should not go without notice that:
The CBO estimated that the troop increase could cost about $13 billion for a four-month surge and that 21,500 combat troops might need as many as 28,000 additional support troops. The CBO based its estimates on an analysis of past and current Pentagon deployments.

This next chance to see how Gates functions (his response to Putin reported below) is equally disheartening. Russia's President Putin delivered a shocking assault on the United States at the Munich security conference. The ramifications of this speech, even that it was given(!) are monstrous. A breach of international diplomacy at this level can ONLY happen if something is massively wrong. (The expansion of NATO, the independence of Kosovo, and the missile defense system planned for Eastern Europe are the main issues.)

When you face a blow up, it is NOT the time to show how clever you are at demeaning, dismissing, and further infuriating and provoking the troubled partner. What is Gates in Junior Highschool? Anybody can be clever. What good is such arrogant behavior. If someone is troubled, a true act of leadership is to take effective steps to dissolve the difficulties.

Gates should lead or not speak. Gates should have responded something like this. "We are concerned over the intensity of President Putin's remarks, as well as the occasion and public manner in which he chose to express his frustrations with US policy. We hold Russian and its President in high esteem as a precious and important ally, and look forward to meeting with Russia's leadership to iron out all difficulties and misunderstanding that led to Mr. Putin's unexpected Munich speech. The world needs its major powers to work harmoniously
to every extent possible for the sake serving the welfare of the the whole world."

This is what is required, NOT snide mockery, and counter accusations (no matter how veiled).

Let go of Cold War mentality, US defence chief tells Putin

THE United States Defence Secretary, Robert Gates, has disputed a lengthy critique of American power by the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, telling a European security conference: "One Cold War was quite enough."

Mr Gates chose words of velvet, not steel, in offering Washington's fullest response to Mr Putin's long complaint on Saturday about US domination of global affairs.

"As an old Cold Warrior, one of yesterday's speeches almost filled me with nostalgia for a less-complex time," he said. "Almost."

Mr Gates, a former director of the CIA recently called back to government service from academia to serve as defence secretary, told attendees of the 43rd Munich Conference on Security Policy that both he and Mr Putin had spent most of their careers in their governments' spy agencies. "And, I guess, old spies have a habit of blunt speaking," Mr Gates said.

"However, I have been to re-education camp - spending 4½ years as a university president." His remark drew laughs and applause. His sharpest response to Putin was gently couched.

"Russia is a partner in endeavours," Mr Gates said.

"But we wonder, too, about some Russian policies that seem to work against international stability, such as its arms transfers and its temptation to use energy resources for political coercion."

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