[Marxism] Gates to Join Obama? Uh Oh

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Jun 29 10:24:58 MDT 2008

Gates to Join Obama? Uh Oh
posted by Robert Dreyfuss on 06/29/2008 @ 10:52am

According to insiders, Barack Obama's campaign is debating how long 
it can leave ambiguous the notion of "residual forces" in Iraq after 
a presumed Obama-ordered withdrawal of combat troops begins in 
January 2009. But there are worrying signs, perhaps the ugliest being 
the rumor that Obama might recruit Secretary of Defense Robert Gates 
to his campaign. (Yes, that's President Bush's secretary of defense.) 
The Times of London reports this stunner, even quoting Richard 
Danzig, Obama's top military adviser and a former secretary of the 
Navy in the Clinton Administration, saying:

     "My personal position is Gates is a very good secretary of 
defence and would be an even better one in an Obama administration."

Adds the paper:

     Obama's top foreign policy and national security advisers are 
pressing the case for keeping Robert Gates at the Pentagon after he 
won widespread praise for his performance. The move would be in 
keeping with Obama's desire to appoint a cabinet of all the talents.

Meanwhile, conservatives and cautious centrists in the Democratic 
party want to soft-pedal Obama's commitment to end the war in Iraq.

Michael O'Hanlon, a Brookings Institution scholar who supported 
President Bush's so-called surge in January, 2007, is one of those. 
He told the Moonie-owned Washington Times this week:

     "Three or four of his Iraq advisers are hinting of greater 
flexibility, though speaking for themselves, not for him. That 
indicates the potential for some change in his previous position or 
at least some flexibility."

O'Hanlon's role as a Hillary Clinton adviser crashed and burned last 
year after he emerged as a strong advocate for continuing the war in 
Iraq, and he's not an Obama adviser.

The Post reports rather ominously today:

     Some advisers acknowledge privately that Obama is now 
emphasizing the need to be "responsible" in handling Iraq -- rather 
than emphasizing urgency in getting troops out -- to appear more 
centrist, a substantial adjustment of his original antiwar stance.

But the Post quotes Obama's key foreign policy adviser, Denis 
McDonough saying that Obama is not changing anything. Still, 
according to insiders, the word "responsible" has been affixed with 
superglue to Obama's Iraq position by the campaign's more centrist 
advisers, who are trying to pull the candidate to the right.

The same Post article goes on to note that the Obama-Clinton merger 
is likely to add somewhat more hawkish advisers to the Obama camp:

     There is another factor that could potentially come into play as 
Obama deepens his Iraq policy: his newfound alliance with Clinton and 
his move to incorporate her foreign policy advisers into his team. In 
trying to unite the party, Obama has described his differences with 
Clinton as negligible.

     "If you look at my positions and Senator Clinton's, there's not 
a lot of difference, which is why it's so easy for advisers, senior 
advisers of Senator Clinton, to support my candidacy," Obama said at 
a meeting of his new working group on national security earlier this month.

Not a lot of difference, perhaps--but enough to make progressives 
worry. Hopefully, the addition of Madeleine Albright, William Perry, 
et al. to Obama's "team" is just window dressing, and he will keep 
those discredited hawks at arm's length. But it's important to note 
that Robert Gates recently appointed William Perry, Clinton's defense 
secretary, to the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board.

Obama has announced plans to visit Israel, Jordan and (on a separate 
trip, or perhaps a still-unannounced part of that trip) Iraq and 
Afghanistan. What he says on that trip (especially in Iraq) and who 
he takes with him will be crucial. Hopefully, he won't take Gates 
with him. Gates, you'll remember, was an early participant in the 
Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group that came up with a plan for Iraq 
that seems very much like Obama's, and one of Obama's top campaign 
staffers helped write the ISG report.

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