Opinion: Barack Obama to keep Robert Gates in Defense


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President-elect Barack Obama has decided to retain the Bush administration’s secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, in his current position, at least for a year.

According to a report just posted on, Gates’ reappointment as Defense secretary will come next week as part of the overall announcements of Obama’s national security team, presumably including Sen. Hillary Clinton as secretary of State.

And retired Marine Gen. Jim Jones as national security adviser.

Although Gates is a registered independent, he has served several Republican administrations, and keeping him would fulfill, at least partially, an Obama pledge to construct a bipartisan administration.

Such a move, if confirmed, could also incite the Democratic left, which had based much of its support on Obama’s slowly melting pledge to withdraw American combat troops within 16 months and start immediately.


Gates has been a loyal steward of the surge, which during the political season Obama long appeared reluctant to admit was a success.

Gates was appointed by President Bush to replace Donald Rumsfeld after the 2006 congressional elections that proved disastrous for Republicans. He’s refused to comment on the new cabinet speculation.

Gates and Obama also disagree, at least on paper, over the need for a European missile defense system now, with Obama saying he wants the technology to be more proven before any installation talk.

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-- Andrew Malcolm

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