May 15, 2016

"Can I just finish the two wars we're already in before you go looking for a third one?"

Said Robert Gates when Barack Obama asked him for his opinion on intervention in Libya.

From an interview on "Face the Nation" today. John Dickerson had asked Gates about what he thought of Ben Rhodes referring to the American foreign policy establishment as "the blob":
GATES: "[T]the blob" presumably includes Brent Scowcroft, who was deeply opposed to the Iraq War. It presumably includes me. I was deeply opposed to the intervention in Libya. It presumably includes George Schulz, who has argued for getting rid of nuclear weapons, along with Bill Perry, former secretary of defense. So "the blob" is as diverse in its points of view as any group of people around. The one thing that members of that elite group have in -- that have in -- that have in common is experience. And some of them have given bad advice. Some of us have given bad advice in the past. Some of us have given pretty good advice. But to lump everybody together and say -- and really the candidates kind of do that. And to say, I don't need those people, I don't want those people, is to dismiss an awful lot of experience and a very great diversity of views on the challenges we face and how to deal with them.

DICKERSON: The president's characterization of that establishment was that the reaction to any event anywhere else is always kind of -- the president has to act and act militarily.

GATES: Well, and the irony in that is, I opposed the intervention in Libya. I mean my reaction in the situation room was, during those debates, can I just finish the two wars we're already in before you go looking for a third one. So, again, I -- I think that there is this sort of political shorthand of lumping people together that really doesn't make any sense and, frankly, is a disservice.
This idea of a President receiving lots of different opinions is important to Gates. He brought it up in connection to Trump:
"[H]e seems to think that he has all the answers and that he doesn't need any advice from staff or anybody else, and that he knows more about these things than anybody else, and doesn't really feel the need to surround himself with informed advisers." 
Gates has worked with 8 Presidents, and:
"[E]ach one of those presidents, as strong-minded as each of them was, understood he did not have all the answers, and surrounded himself with experienced, thoughtful people who would give good advice, and they were willing to listen. They would often make their own independent judgments. They often would act contrary to the advice they were receiving. But, nonetheless, they only acted after they had listened to different points of view and then had the opportunity to make up their mind."
Dickerson prompted Gates to say that Trump had "a fatal flaw," but the ever-sober Gates offered advice to Trump: Show that you are "willing to listen to people, willing to adjust your positions." But would he serve in a Trump administration?
"Well, I learned a long time ago never to say never. But let's just say that would be inconceivable to me."
"Inconceivable" sounds very strong, but as we know from the meme, a person may say it without close attention to the meaning.


Achilles said...

Going to be strange having a president that actually thinks and cares about America's interests and starts out skeptical before starting a war.

sean said...

Luckily, the government lawyers decided that dropping bombs on Libyans isn't hostilities. Prof. Althouse's law school colleagues concurred, it would only be hostilities if a Republican did it. They are men and women of such total integrity, it's a shame they don't have more power.

MikeR said...

Trump built Trump Towers. I doubt he built it himself. Presumably he worked with experts.

Tommy Duncan said...

Obama's hatred for the military and its conservative leaning members is intense. Obama simply doesn't understand the military and his ideology won't allow him to learn. He cares little about the lives of out servicemen, and it shows. I pray for all those serving in the military under Obama.

Owen said...

Gates' response to Rhodes' characterization was unbelievably civil. Far better than that insolent puppy deserved.

I hope Rhodes is not a fatality of the blast or prompt radiation of the Iranian strike. That would be too clean an exit.

Titus said...

How can you watch that crap?

So I was at the gym today and the place was packed. Probably 500-600 peeps. Any who, there are a handful of peeps that work out longer and more intense than me, and today, I was going to topple them. 4 gals and 6 mens. They always do more reps, and are in the gym longer than me so today i was going to outlast them. Little did I know I had to work out for 3 1/2 hours in order to beat the last Woman standing. I also did 38 different machines/free weights with a total of 424 reps. My abs are like breathing right now they are so worked up.

When I was done I took my shirt off in the locker room and walked around-I don't shower at the gym-too many sauna iguanas. But I just wanted to feel eyes on my body. I washed face, took a piss, weighed myself-162-5'11...all while shirtless and being worshiped by others. A latino called me papi and touched my tit. Good day.

I feel tight right now. I am flexing and feeling my muscles hard and it is making me kind of horny.

n.n said...

Does Trump's daughter and colleague count as an advisor? Perhaps one of the other thousands of people in the corporation that manage the businesses. Or the political advisors to his political campaign. Trump has demonstrated an extraordinary ability to adapt and reconcile with facts on the ground.

n.n said...

Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, Syria, Ukraine, and the better part of Europe, Canada, and America. The pro-choice touch. Egypt, he wasn't able to seal the deal there. The logical conclusion is that we need less lawyers and Nobel Peace Prize recipients in positions of authority, or perhaps just in government.

Titus said...

So at the gym there are all these fab college/prep school tshirts being worn. My fave is Choate Hockey t guy-yum and Swarthmore Soccer-delish.

Today someone was wearing an Ole Miss t-the gym was disgusted.

Could you imagine someone wearing an Ole Miss shirt in Cambridge? I mean really. It is like wearing a Harvard t shirt in Biloxi-actually it is worse.

traditionalguy said...

Newt Gingrich has a good knowledge of actual history and a dedication to the U S Military. That is where President Trump should start looking for advice.

As for Obama, he is only comprehensible when seen as a secret enemy agent dedicated to the destruction of our Defense Forces and our alliances especially with any friends of Israel.

Christopher said...

"Obama's hatred for the military and its conservative leaning members is intense."

I suppose the one good thing about the Left's absolute hatred of our military is that we don't need to worry about any coups in the near future.

Silver linings and all that.

David Begley said...

Obama. Clinton. Rhodes. The Three Stooges isn't quite right considering how they have screwed up American foreign policy for the next 50 years.

But historic diversity of some sort, I guess.

Barack and Ben probably pissed they didn't cash in like Hillary did. I guess that is post presidency..

Birkel said...

Not content to let "Rhythm and Balls" outshine him in the bigotry sweepstakes, Titus takes a turn at unearned opprobrium.

Phil 314 said...

I'll take Tradguy's Trump obsequiousness over Titus preening anytime.

And with so many opportunities to weigh in on Trump, Gay politics and Yiannopoulos we get nothing.

mockturtle said...

At least Trump went to a military school.

Achilles said...

Tommy Duncan said...

"Obama's hatred for the military and its conservative leaning members is intense."

I was in from 2007 to 2011. The change in 2009 was dramatic.

Also. The feeling is mutual and we are much better at negative feelings.

Achilles said...

David Begley said...
"Obama. Clinton. Rhodes. The Three Stooges isn't quite right considering how they have screwed up American foreign policy for the next 50 years."

Sorry but you don't get to leave Bush out of this. Bush stood by while we were savaged by the democrats and media. He never stood up for us against the No WMD's lie. He gave us a near impossible job and didn't do his part, the political part, to build those countries. He allowed them to go on an on about Abu Ghraib and all of our other shortcomings.

wildswan said...

You give Obama too much credit when you think he reasons out what would damage the US. He's like the spoiled brat son of a successful businessman, Takes over the business, does the opposite of Dad in all situations, (including spending major portions of time partying, playing easy non-competitive sports) runs the business into the ground, hundreds lose their jobs. Thinks he's great; doesn't even know there's a problem till foreclosure. It happens often in family-run businesses.

The only unique thing about the brat in the White House is his charming custom of stabbing in the back anyone near him in any sense - vp, secretary of state, allies of this country, press allies. Look at Ben Rhodes, Obama's alter ego, talking about the press which has covered up for Obama since day one. Look at Obama saddling the Democrats who honored him twice as their standard bearer with a men-in-women's-bathrooms policy in the schools affecting children - during a tough election season.

Look at what Obama really says about Iran; look what he did to Egypt. These were supposed to be the new allies after he stabbed Israel and England.

Look at him flooding the country with immigrants to take the jobs of blacks after blacks gave him their votes.

Look what he's leaving for his children to live in. There's an ugliness about him and how he acts that you only see in history in tyrants - they don't need to make an effort to please any group.

Birkel said...


Interesting analogy.

However, to make it accurate you would have to have the brat son study at the hand of socialist professors, be guided by a socialist mentor who attacked the police with bombs and attend a church that said "God Damn America" as part of a sermon, all while having a wife who had never been proud of her country.

And that dude runs an entire country into the ground.

Birkel said...

Oh, and that bratty kid would have to be voted into office by the likes of our hostess, Professor Althouse.

David Begley said...


And what Bush didn't do always mystified me. But once that "no WMD" meme got going it was impossible to stop. Second guessing of the worst sort.

But Obama effectively armed an enemy and gave them money to do so. Stupid doesn't begin to describe it.

Nancy Reyes said...

I am sure that Trump wil listen to the experts in the State Department, but you know, there are other sources of information for a president than "experts" in the State Department.

For example, Trump has a tower in Manilaru (actually being built by his son). Which means he has grass roots connections here, and since he is a pragmatist, will probably be able to work with Presdient Dutarte.

Titus said...

Phil is kind of fat, even if he sad. fat straights. Phil is wide.

Titus said...

Phil also has a huge cardinal sin and kind of womanly. Wide hips and ass=woman Phil....sorry.

Birkel said...

Titus and bigotry fit together so effortlessly.

How ripped will you need to be, Titus, before you decide bigotry is unbecoming?

Dude1394 said...

Gate's is talking out of his rear end. He doesn't know trump, he doesn't know what trump does/does not do with advisors. Taking your opinion from the new york times will make you look pretty dumb.

Jason said...

Sorry, Titus.

Laslo does perv better than you do, and Milo is a far more fabulous and funny fag.

You're long past your "sell by" date.

Jason said...

Why did Secretary Gates cross the road?

Answer: To get to the middle!

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Wait, wasn't the mantra "don't do stupid shit?" Now Gates tells me it was a question put to him--"Hey SecDef, should we do some stupid shit?" and after he answered no they went ahead and did so anyway?
Gee, I wonder why I never read about any of this at the time (back when it mattered).

paminwi said...

Wildswan & Birkel have hit the nailon the head. Nothing more to add.

Leigh said...

Someone lent me Gates's memoir and I planned to read it. After hearing his Sunday interview, I have no interest. He says, with apparently great authority and an insider's insight, that Trump thinks he knows all the answers and has no interest hearing other people's views or in surrounding himself with people who have true and tested expertise in defense, trade, the VA, etc. So much obvious hogwash!

Trump has said repeatedly that he intends to surround himself with the best advisors he possibly can -- it's practically his campaign slogan (after "Make America Great Again"). Apparently Gates feels certain he won't be landing a spot in what he believes will be Trump's coveted coterie. And good on Trump that Gates won't be. Because for as many times (he claims) that he vehemently disagreed with, and spoke out forcefully against, HRC's Libyan decision, he did exactly what? And after he'd resigned, and Hillary ran around lying, blaming a well-organized attack against our people on 9/11 on a YouTube video trailer, what did he do about it? I never heard him say a word. Maybe it's in his book that I won't be reading.

Gates seems to have abandoned his military compass long ago. By criticizing Trump (prematurely) viciously while saying nothing critical about Hillary, Gates has shown himself to be a true political hack. And he's shown "The Fox and the Grapes" to be as true today as it was when Aesop wrote it.