Robert Gates: Republicans' grasp of national security is at a child's level


Robert Gates, a Republican stalwart and former US defense secretary who served under eight presidents, has derided the party’s election candidates for a grasp of national security issues that “would embarrass a middle schooler”.
An ex-CIA director who first joined the White House under Richard Nixon, Gates joked that if frontrunner Donald Trump wins the presidency, he would emigrate to Canada. He condemned the media for failing to challenge candidates from both parties on promises he believes are unaffordable, illegal or unconstitutional.
“The level of dialogue on national security issues would embarrass a middle schooler,” Gates said of the Republican contenders at a Politico Playbook event in Washington on Monday. “People are out there making threats and promises that are totally unrealistic, totally unattainable. Either they really believe what they’re saying or they’re cynical and opportunistic and, in a way, you hope it’s the latter, because God forbid they actually believe some of the things that they’re saying.”



Sure. :rolleyes: And giving the Obama Administration a legacy is working out oh so great, isn’t it?


I certainly appreciate the focus the republicans are putting on national security. To sum it up, keep the bad guys out and don’t let anyone in if we can’t confirm their identity and find out about their background. Democrats are under the impression that terrorists will tell the truth about being terrorists and will decide not to hurt us after living here awhile. I think Robert Gates missed the part where Obama plans to settle Syrians here when we can’t find out anything about them and refuses to let immigration officials look at their social media. That seems closer to a child’s view of national security to me.


We need a leadership that can make peace from a position of strength.

And currently, neither party is it.



As I read, he’s equally dismissive of Obama’s hand at the tiller on Foreign Policy.

I’m more concerned about Obama’s performance than what Trump has said while campaigning.


BHO is leaving; our concern as citizens is who do we trust to repair all the damage.



What exactly is he talking about? So he has some experience, but he doesn’t seem to be very specific in his criticism. What are his proposals? Perhaps he is been in the trenches so long he can’t think outside the box?

Plus, how smart are US middle schoolers anyway in terms of history and foreign policy?


He attended a Politico event?
Nuff said


He attended a Politico event?
Nuff said

:smiley: Does he have a new book coming out too?


I don’t like someone placing a “dead rat” on my desk. He should suggest solutions and strategy rather than just condemn others for their actions. He seems like he just enjoys bashing the party rather than offering any insight. Bad form, Robert.




How effective is a military if no one believes that you will use it? If no one believes you will use it, you probably end up using it. Most people educated above the eighth grade level don’t seem to understand this. Give me the eighth grader, and I will sleep well at night.



I am not sure how they are related. Obama’s failed policy does not make the republican policy good.


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The title is misleading.

Gates didn’t say Republican candidates grasp of national security is at a child’s level, only that the campaign dialogue so far is at that level.

I agree with that. The dialogue is wonderously thin. But at this point, it’s difficult to see how it could be anything else. My memory isn’t the best, but to my recollection, only Christie has actually said defeating ISIS would require “boots on the ground”. Everybody else dances around it, probably knowing full well that they can’t say it plainly because the media firestorm over it would warp their chances of election.

And there is undoubtedly a “don’t want to tip my hand” aspect to it. Let’s say a candidate has discussed it with the military strategists and diplomats enough to know the following would work: Send a force of 10,000 U.S. military; the best, with sufficient combined arms and special operations capability. Work out a deal with Egypt to grant Egypt financial aid of $10 billion and transport of 20,000 fully-equipped Egyptian troops to Saudi Arabia for the “push” against ISIS. Work out a deal with Jordan to provide 5,000 troops. Let’s say another 5,000 from Pakistan. And then let’s say we actually arm the Kurds and promise Turkey the establishment of a de facto independent Sunni Arab “province” in northern Syria and another in northern Iraq just to stay out of it.

Would anybody with that in mind really want to talk about it more openly than that until he was in a position to actually put it together? Again, Christie has said something like it, but very vaguely. But I don’t think even a sitting president would talk about it in detail until he had it all worked out.


Thanks, I am tired of hearing we are too stupid (even our candidates) to deal with national security. Listen to that “when I was CIA cheese I knew what was what”.
It bothers me when someone claims they will leave the country if this one or that one is elected. Middle schoolers are lots smarter than Gates claims and doubt they would be embarrassed. So much for his forthcoming book.


Gates didn’t say that either.

What he actually said was a joke. Someone asked him what he would do if Trump was elected. He said 'well, I live 50 miles from Canada". He then clarified saying he wouldn’t move to Canada; that he was joking and would never leave the U.S.


well, okay on that then! :smiley:


To be honest, looking at it from the outside as a Canadian, US government seems just as big a mess as it always has been under most presidents in my memory. The two branches of Congress and the President never seem to get along. Republican or democrat hasn’t changed one iota that I can see on abortion. The US continues to get embroiled in foreign wars it can’t really win, with targets shifting like the desert sands. Affordable health care continues to be a big problem. Debt is skyrocketing. Becoming President seems to take an unconscionable amount of cash, and the US is looking more and more like a plutocracy than a democracy as a result.

Maybe, and only just so, Reagan could be given a tip of the hat for his role in the ending of the Cold War, but with credit also going to Saint John Paul II, and internal forces in the former Soviet Bloc. Other than that, in my adult days (say Carter onwards), it just seems like one giant immovable mass up against an irresistible force and everything going nowhere fast.

I don’t mean to seem critical; I love Americans and have had many American friends, and many have told me more or less the same thing. One thing I do admire about the US system is the ability of Americans to self-examine and self-criticize.


No, we are in trouble here.

While it may have always seemed like our government was at odds with each other, it just isn’t so. In modern times, both Clinton and Reagan, and to a lesser degree Bush senior, all were able to get things done with Congress and by the letter of the law. They knew how to govern and were able to make deals. Government actually worked pretty well.

Now, we seem to have children running things, girl scouts, sorority sisters and frat boys. We have 1st term junior senators becoming president, like Obama, and a few running now. We have divorcees, non-religious, non-married candidates and those with questionable citizenry, scandal scarred people running this time around that could not have been considered even 10 years ago, such are the depths to which our society has declined.

The movie Idiocracy took place 500 years in the future, but it’s upon us already.

So, yes, I agree with Robert Gate’s evaluation.

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