Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

The backlash against Gates begins

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has enjoyed almost a charmed life, praised by both left and right. But with his recent emphasis on cutting the defense budget, the teflon may be wearing off. Here is an attack that chugs along politely but ends with this non sequitur: In the end, there remains only one alternative: to ...

HENNY RAY ABRAMS/AFP/Getty Images
HENNY RAY ABRAMS/AFP/Getty Images
HENNY RAY ABRAMS/AFP/Getty Images

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has enjoyed almost a charmed life, praised by both left and right. But with his recent emphasis on cutting the defense budget, the teflon may be wearing off. Here is an attack that chugs along politely but ends with this non sequitur:

In the end, there remains only one alternative: to shrink the mission. If you want to see the results of a shrinking CIA budget and mission, visit lower Manhattan. What might follow from Gates's career-capping years at the Obama Pentagon could make Ground Zero look like a war game.

He's been a terrific defense secretary. It seems excessive to me to start accusing him of causing another 9/11 the first time you disagree with him.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has enjoyed almost a charmed life, praised by both left and right. But with his recent emphasis on cutting the defense budget, the teflon may be wearing off. Here is an attack that chugs along politely but ends with this non sequitur:

In the end, there remains only one alternative: to shrink the mission. If you want to see the results of a shrinking CIA budget and mission, visit lower Manhattan. What might follow from Gates’s career-capping years at the Obama Pentagon could make Ground Zero look like a war game.

He’s been a terrific defense secretary. It seems excessive to me to start accusing him of causing another 9/11 the first time you disagree with him.

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

More from Foreign Policy

A Panzerhaubitze 2000 tank howitzer fires during a mission in Ukraine’s Donetsk region.
A Panzerhaubitze 2000 tank howitzer fires during a mission in Ukraine’s Donetsk region.

Lessons for the Next War

Twelve experts weigh in on how to prevent, deter, and—if necessary—fight the next conflict.

An illustration showing a torn Russian flag and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
An illustration showing a torn Russian flag and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

It’s High Time to Prepare for Russia’s Collapse

Not planning for the possibility of disintegration betrays a dangerous lack of imagination.

An unexploded tail section of a cluster bomb is seen in Ukraine.
An unexploded tail section of a cluster bomb is seen in Ukraine.

Turkey Is Sending Cold War-Era Cluster Bombs to Ukraine

The artillery-fired cluster munitions could be lethal to Russian troops—and Ukrainian civilians.

A joint session of Congress meets to count the Electoral College vote from the 2008 presidential election the House Chamber in the U.S. Capitol  January 8, 2009 in Washington.
A joint session of Congress meets to count the Electoral College vote from the 2008 presidential election the House Chamber in the U.S. Capitol January 8, 2009 in Washington.

Congrats, You’re a Member of Congress. Now Listen Up.

Some brief foreign-policy advice for the newest members of the U.S. legislature.