Pause at the Gates
When Bob Gates took over for Donald Rumsfeld, there was a lot of talk about how nice it would be to have a grownup at the Pentagon. And in some cases that’s been borne out, as when Gates demanded resignations after the Walter Reed scandal made the front page of the Washington Post. But in other cases it just looks like Gates plays the traditional Washington role of good cop, beatifying the actions of an extremist administration to the Washington establishment. That’s what’s happening on the Iraq troop pause.
The pause, as Carl Levin observed during last week’s Petraeus hearings, is divorced from any kind of strategy. But Petraeus wants it, and President Bush said Petraeus will have it (as Kayda and Chantil told you in our new feature). So what does Gates say?
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said the steps necessary in Iraq before Washington can begin to withdraw U.S. troops are “already happening.”
“Eight provinces in Iraq are already under provincial Iraqi control, where there are either no coalition forces or they are . . . not involved in combat,” Gates said, adding that Anbar province, once one of the most violent areas, appears to be the next headed for Iraqi control.
So “what we have is half of Iraq where the transition has already been made to a different kind of role or mission for U.S. forces,” Gates said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” He warned, however, that “it may take a while” for the rest of the country to get there. He offered no timeline for the complete transition.
Secretary Gates: call Colin Powell. Drive to his house. He’ll have the kettle on. And he’ll tell you that when you end up carrying the administration’s water on the war, you end up soaking wet.