Posted by: sean | November 9, 2006

Rumsfeld’s replacement

I woke up yesterday morning to news that the Democrats had trounced the Republicans, and later that evening, I saw, with relief, that the first casualty of the “new direction” was Rumsfeld. I don’t know much about Robert Gates, the former CIA director (the only one in its history to have worked his way up from an entry-level position). However, the fact that he has served in several different administrations, both Republican and Democrat, is a good sign.

While he is a Soviet analyst, he is a part of Baker’s Iraq Study Group and has spoken out against Washington’s self-defeating policy of not talking to Iran:

“It is not in our interest for Iran to have nuclear weapons,” Gates said. “It is not in our interest for Iran to oppose the new governments in Afghanistan and Iraq. And if we can engage them and try and bring some progress in those areas, then our interests have been served. And that’s what it’s all about.”

Gates also said that if the United States were to open lines of communication with Iran, that would not be sending a mixed message.

“Well, are we rewarding bad behavior by talking to the Libyans?” Gates said.

“Are we rewarding bad behavior by talking to the North Koreans? We’re trying to figure out how to limit the national security risks to the United States from policies that Iran is following.

“We don’t have much of a voice in that effort right now. We’re basically sitting on the sidelines,” Gates told NPR’s Michele Kelemen in July 2004.

I think that Rumsfeld’s departure is a good first step in the right direction, particularly on Middle East policy. Let’s hope it’s not the last.

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