Why Gates Should Stay —and Why He Shouldn't

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 21, 2008 1:25 PM CST
Defense Secretary Robert Gates speaks with sailors while visiting the submarine USS Rhode Island, Oct. 31, 2008.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Conventional wisdom has it that Barack Obama will ask Robert Gates to keep his post as Secretary of Defense, but there’s no conventional wisdom about how wise that is. “It has more minuses than pluses,” opines one ex-Pentagon official, but others disagree. Some pros and cons:

  • Gates would ensure a smooth wartime transition. (But that’s what the uniformed military leaders who actually run the war are for, and why they’re not appointed.)

  • Gates could continue his crusade to refocus technology and spending on current counter-insurgent campaigns, rather than hypothetical conventional wars. (And hence perpetuate the upward trajectory of military spending.)
  • Obama could demonstrate bipartisanship. (But risks the perception that Democrats have a weak security stable.)
  • Obama could show confidence. (But if he’s forced to slow troop withdrawals, he’ll be seen deferring to the last administration’s guy.)