Will the US ever undertake another war like the ones in Iraq and Afghanistan? Not if Defense Secretary Robert Gates has his way. “In my opinion, any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should ‘have his head examined,’ as General MacArthur so delicately put it,” Gates told an audience of West Point cadets yesterday. It was an unusually pointed remark for Gates, though he did not directly criticize President Bush’s decision to go to war, the New York Times notes.
Potential conflicts in those places are more likely to be fought over air and sea, not with ground forces, Gates continued, meaning that “the Army will be increasingly challenged to justify the number, size, and cost of its heavy formations. The odds of repeating another Afghanistan or Iraq—invading, pacifying, and administering a large third-world country—may be low,” and the government should instead focus on preventing “festering problems from growing into full-blown crises which require costly—and controversial—large-scale American military intervention.”