November 20, 2006


Son Knows Best: Why Bush chose Robert Gates (Fred Barnes, 11/27/2006, Weekly Standard)

Before hiring him, Bush had to make sure Gates didn't think America's intervention in Iraq was a mistake and wasn't deeply skeptical of Bush's decision to make democracy promotion a fundamental theme of American foreign policy. With Gates, it came down to this: "The fundamental question was, was he Brent Scowcroft or not?" a Bush aide says.

In Bush 41, Scowcroft was the national security adviser, Gates his deputy. Scowcroft, a realist, is a sharp critic of both Bush's Iraq strategy and the democratic thrust of his entire foreign policy. And Scowcroft has gone public with his strong opposition in articles and interviews.

Gates was initially approached about the defense post in October by Stephen Hadley, Bush's national security adviser. The outreach was "delicate," a Bush aide says, and kept secret. Gates had at least one supporter inside Bush's circle, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. She, too, had worked for Scowcroft in the senior Bush's administration. She told the president that whenever she had sought to wean Scowcroft from a narrow realist position--such as his dismissal of Russian democratic leader Boris Yeltsin as a rube and his unyielding support for Mikhail Gorbachev--she turned to Gates for help. [...]

Two days before the election, the president summoned Gates to his ranch near Waco, Texas. It was the first time they'd talked about the Pentagon position. Bush had houseguests for the weekend to celebrate his wife's sixtieth birthday and their twenty-ninth anniversary. He left the guests to spend nearly two hours questioning Gates in his private office at the ranch. It was only the two of them. No aides participated in the meeting.

The president wanted "clarity" on Gates's views, especially on Iraq and the pursuit of democracy. He asked if Gates shared the goal of victory in Iraq and would be determined to pursue it aggressively as defense chief. He asked if Gates agreed democracy should be the aim of American foreign policy and not merely the stability of pro-American regimes, notably in the Middle East. Bush also wanted to know Gates's "philosophy" of America's role in the world, an aide says, and his take on the pitfalls America faces. "The president got good vibes," according to the Bush official.

Gates destabilized the USSR, Scowcroft tried to save it.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 20, 2006 6:11 PM

And Baker??? Isn't he on board with Scowcroft? or did Dubya show him his fist before putting hi on Iraq?

Posted by: ray at November 20, 2006 8:54 PM

The Baker group is Congress's baby.

Posted by: oj at November 20, 2006 9:13 PM

Baker tanked père's re-election, so what is he doing back on the reservation?

Posted by: erp at November 21, 2006 8:58 AM