Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Quote of the day: Gates fighting, warning and philosophizing

I’ve thought for awhile that Robert Gates is the best defense secretary we’ve ever had, kind of a William Perry but with a killer instinct. I like the determined way he took on the pork barrelers in the fight over the F-22 fighter. Two of his recent observations only confirm my opinion. First, from his ...

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583233_090722_gates5.jpg
CAIRO, EGYPT - MAY 5: U.S. Secretary of Defence Robert Gates attends a press conference at the Presidential Palace following his meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo on May 5, 2009 in Cairo, Egypt. Gates is visiting Egypt to hold talks with President Mubarak and Arab leaders, to discuss Washington's diplomatic approach to Iran. (Photo by Jason Reed -Pool/Getty Images)

I've thought for awhile that Robert Gates is the best defense secretary we've ever had, kind of a William Perry but with a killer instinct. I like the determined way he took on the pork barrelers in the fight over the F-22 fighter.

Two of his recent observations only confirm my opinion.

I’ve thought for awhile that Robert Gates is the best defense secretary we’ve ever had, kind of a William Perry but with a killer instinct. I like the determined way he took on the pork barrelers in the fight over the F-22 fighter.

Two of his recent observations only confirm my opinion.

First, from his July 16 speech in Chicago, this warning:

…The president is the eighth president I’ve worked for, and I do not recall a single time in my entire professional career when I felt that the country faced as complex and, in many respects, dangerous a time as we do now.”

I also find the following comment Gates made at a press conference on Monday quite interesting. I hadn’t seen this thought expressed this way:

…We’re living in a time not only of great change, but also great simultaneity. Many things are happening all at once in many different places; and though we may be tired, we must stay focused.”

Not bad for an old Sovietologist.

Update: In this item, the second quotation, about “simultaneity,” was not said by Gates, but by Adm. Mike Mullen in the same joint press conference. I apologize for the error.

Jason Reed – Pool/Getty Images

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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