Reflecting on Robert Gates' (Sometimes Surprising) Views

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the new START Treaty, with Chair of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mike Mullen and Defense Sec. Robert Gates (TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty)

Robert Gates is talking about his new book everywhere. But on yesterday's show, he said a few surprising things that deserve follow-up. David Sanger, New York Times national security correspondent and author of Confront and Conceal, discusses some of Gates's comments - on everything from Hillary Clinton to the war in Iraq, deals in Iran, criticizing a sitting president, and the NSA.


David Sanger

Comments [24]

Edwards from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson

Ms. Bad,

Thank you for admitting that Sadaam Hussein had WMDs and used WMDs on the Kurds of Halabja Iraq and the socialist Lie that Sadaam didn't have WMDs was... a Lie.

Strange that WMDs, poison gas, turned up in the Syrian socialist family dictatorship? 1,000+ dead.

Contact KGB Putin for further instructions.

Jan. 16 2014 05:30 PM
Soldier's Father

@ jgarbuz: Once again you are volunteering others for military service, while you yourself avoided your military obligations both in the U.S and in Israel. What a hypocrite you are.

Jan. 16 2014 02:23 PM
Mr. Bad from NYC

@ Edward from JIDF HQ

Still tilting at windmills? You post the same nonsense every time iraq comes up. Sure, Saddam had Chem weapons and used them, so did the USA, Germany, UK. He got rid of them, we invaded anyway. Nobody says he never had them yet you continue to argue with yourself and implicate other posters in your game of strawmen. Truly sad and pathetic.

Jan. 16 2014 12:15 PM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

Katherine from Brooklyn,

Still promoting the lie that Saddaam Hussein never had or used WMDs?


Educate yourself.

Jan. 16 2014 11:50 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

I hope the NSA, FBI and NYPD continue spying on people like "Mr. Bad" and his comrades.

Jan. 16 2014 11:47 AM
Katherine from Brooklyn

Re the discussion on why the US invaded Iraq: Never mind the lie about weapons of mass destruction or Rumsfeld's claim that we'd be out of there in six months. Does anyone remember the Project for a New American Century? Cheney, Rumsfeld, Perle, and other neocons masterminded it with the goal of American hegemony in the world. And they were lapping up the advice of Chalabi who hadn't lived in the country for 40 years as a substitute for any real knowledge about Iraq or the Middle East in general.

They didn't care how many lives would be lost on either side, whether those lives were American soldiers or Iraqi civilians. Soldiers duped into believing they were serving their country and hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians lost their lives or, in the case of American service people, returned with broken minds and maimed bodies.

Jan. 16 2014 11:30 AM

How tall is Gates?

Jan. 16 2014 11:26 AM
jgarbuz from Queens


>We should build one less nuclear aircraft carrier and give everyone in college junior year for free.<

Or draft them and give them their junior year for free in the military, the way their grandparents got their free college education. They paid for it by giving back service to their country.

Jan. 16 2014 10:51 AM
Mr. Bad from NYC

It's nothing against the Lehrer show in particular but I don't know why the media bothers to interview this guy, it's a sad commentary on how little use the mainstream media is to a thinking person. This guy did 26 years in the CIA/Militrary and served as Director under Bush. What do you think his opinion of spying is? Right! It's good! GOAAALLLLL! Do you interview a Ford car salesman on the virtues of a Honda? Meanwhile endless, pointless debate focused on the agenda set by the government and broadcast by mass media. Thank you 4th estate for improving our lives!Yes, I want to know more...

Jan. 16 2014 10:49 AM

@Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

"ACTUALLY, 3.5 - 5.5% IS A VERY GENEROUS NUMBER THESE DAYS ... and even I would be happy if we kept it at that level."

$600B-$900B (depending on where you put the hidden intelligence spending) out of 16 trillion is too much.

We should build one less nuclear aircraft carrier and give everyone in college junior year for free.

Jan. 16 2014 10:47 AM
jgarbuz from Queens


Israel spends 8% of its GDP on defense,down from the 15-25% they spent when I lived there back in the '80s, when 60% of my income went to them. Or to put it the other way, they let me keep barely 40% of my income. And it's down because of US military aid. If the US keeps cutting defense, then others will spend more and the likelihood of wars,say between Japan and China, for example, will increase. More countries will go for nukes if we withdraw from the world, and that won't make life safer for Americans in the long run. We can't escape the collateral damage of worldwide nuclear wars.

Jan. 16 2014 10:39 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan


ACTUALLY, 3.5 - 5.5% IS A VERY GENEROUS NUMBER THESE DAYS ... and even I would be happy if we kept it at that level.

Jan. 16 2014 10:36 AM

@jgarbuz from Queens

"I think the main mistake we made in Iraq is not taking $1 trillion dollars worth of crude oil as war booty to pay for the war."

Way to go, jgarbuz! Let's back up an illegal invasion with a monstrously large theft. Your proposal makes it more likely that the entire oil-using world aligns themselves with jihadists to give the U.S. a knuckle sandwich. Hanging is the usual punishment for piracy. It's more important how we regard ourselves than how our enemies (or potential enemies) regard us.

No thanks.

Jan. 16 2014 10:34 AM

Bottom Line it for us : As a nation, we spend between 3.5% and 5.5% of GDP on defense. (20%-25% of the Federal budget) It's more (depending on who's counting) than the next 15-30 nations COMBINED!

If all you have is a hammer, everything begins to look like a nail.

We need to rationally draw down this spending. Army, Navy, Air Force need a diet. Maybe not the Marines and Coast Guard.

Jan. 16 2014 10:27 AM

I am so tired of hearing this self-serving, sanctimonious, opportunistic war-monger. Let it go.

Jan. 16 2014 10:23 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Everyone and their grandmother knew or anticipated that the invasion and the "de-bathification" of Iraq would have been a disaster...The Bush II era neo-cons simply ignored it. Now the Sunnis are hanging on for dear life by bombing as many innocent Shia as they can.

Jan. 16 2014 10:23 AM

Why do we need to listen to this sociopath again??

Jan. 16 2014 10:21 AM

Gates is a Iran/Contra criminal.

Jan. 16 2014 10:20 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

I think the main mistake we made in Iraq is not taking $1 trillion dollars worth of crude oil as war booty to pay for the war. People who don't loot and don't take war booty aren't respected in the Middle East. People over there respond only to strength, or what they perceive as weakness. Kindness and compassion are symptoms of weakness. That's why the US and Israel are not respected over there.

Jan. 16 2014 10:19 AM


Jan. 16 2014 10:19 AM
Seth Peckstiff

This is just reminding me of Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle -- are there 2 more disgraced Americans? No. I'd love to hear would Gates would say about them.

Jan. 16 2014 10:13 AM

Ya that Bob Gates is awesome...

Jan. 16 2014 10:07 AM

No love for Wolf Brian? I thought it was a tremendous film, and incredibly subersive.

Jan. 16 2014 10:05 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Nah, Brian, whether or not it's "boring", your disclosure is very important. Thanks.

Jan. 16 2014 10:04 AM

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