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Bob Gates vs. Dick Cheney

Blink and you’ll miss Secretary of Defense Bob Gates giving the back of his hand to Vice President Dick Cheney during a Q&A session yesterday at the National Defense University:

Q: Captain Stevewright (ph), United States Navy. Do you think that the mid- and long-term economic challenges, domestic economic challenges, will result in significant downward pressure on the DOD budget? And if so, are we preparing for that?

SEC. GATES: … But in terms of the kind of deep cuts that followed the end of the Cold War, I would hope that we’ve gotten smarter than that.

After all, the Army was cut by 40 percent; the Navy was close to — had, I think, over 550 ships at the time, now sort of half that number. So I hope that there is recognition of the importance. And I think the fact that the world does remain a complicated and dangerous place is further incentive not to cut capabilities.

The architect of those cuts was none other than Cheney during his tenure at the Pentagon in the George H.W. Bush administration. Cheney cut active-duty Army troop levels by something like 25 percent.

Gates knows this full well, as he was the elder Bush’s CIA chief. Oh, and, interestingly, someone who backed even deeper cuts than the ones Gates implied weren’t smart was none other than a certain Arizona senator currently running for president.

Subtle!

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