The man with the longest list of failures adds another one to his list and simultaneously marks his greatest failure to date and possibly in the history of the United States of America. Maybe that is why his bio is what comes up in the number one position on Google when you search for the word “failure.” In any event, I consider this news positive in that the first step to solving a problem is admitting a problem. And now that The Iraq Study Group Report has been published and there is a new Defense Secretary maybe we can start trying to figure how to clean up Bush’s latest enormous failure, if that’s even possible. Click through to read the article. Cheers!
US Defense Secretary declares Iraq war a failure
The World Today – Wednesday, 6 December , 2006 12:26:00
Reporter: Kim Landers
ELEANOR HALL: Let’s go now to the United States, and the man who will replace Donald Rumsfeld as US Defense Secretary appears to have clinched his appointment by proclaiming that the US is losing the war in Iraq.
Robert Gates delivered his frank assessment at his confirmation hearing and won unanimous approval from the Senate Armed Services Committee to take up the post.
And he says “all options” are on the table for forging a new war strategy.
Washington Correspondent Kim Landers reports.
KIM LANDERS: Sporting some American flag cufflinks, Robert Gates sat for five hours before a panel of US Senators, giving some straight answers to some tough questions about Iraq.
It’s been enough for the Senate Armed Services Committee to approve his appointment as the next Defense Secretary.
JOHN WARNER: We’re very pleased to announce we have just concluded our vote, and as far as we know, 21 senators were present, all unanimous.
CARL LEVIN: What we heard this morning was a welcome breath of honest candid realism about the situation in Iraq.
KIM LANDERS: Twice today Robert Gates was asked point blank if the US is winning the war in Iraq, and twice he replied “No”, although a few hours later he sought to clarify that.
ROBERT GATES: Only because I’m concerned that the troops in the field might have misunderstood something I said, and I certainly stand by my statement this morning that I agreed with General Pace that we are not winning, but we are not losing.
But I want to make clear that pertains to the situation in Iraq as a whole. Our military forces win the battles that they fight.
KIM LANDERS: So what do members of the US military think about their new boss saying they’re not winning?
Major General William Caldwell is the spokesman for Coalition forces in Iraq.
WILLIAM CALDWELL: What I’d say is that we’ve all recognized that we need to adjust our strategy over here right now, that it has not achieved the end results that we had expected to by this time, and George Casey has got us on a program we’re looking at real hard, and we’ve already begun to implement some aspects of it.
KIM LANDERS: In October when George W. Bush was asked if the US was winning he said “absolutely”.
So today’s plain speaking from Robert Gates had White House spokesman Tony Snow on the defensive.
TONY SNOW: Number one, I know you want to pit a fight between Bob Gates and the President. It doesn’t exist. Read the full testimony and you’ll see.
KIM LANDERS: The President’s choice to be the next Defense Secretary couldn’t be more different from his last.
Robert Gates’ soft-spoken, non-confrontational style at his Senate confirmation hearing today has been a distinct contrast from Donald Rumsfeld.
He’s made it clear he’s open to changing direction in Iraq, although he’s cautioned that the final decision is up to the President.
Retired Army General Robert Scales is also warning against high expectations for change.
ROBERT SCALES: I don’t see any new ideas on the table, nor would I have expected him to throw out ideas in his hearings. What he brings to the table is a fresh start and a new approach.
He is by nature a collegial consensus maker. He has good relations with state and the intelligence community. He has few ideological preconceptions that he brings to the table.
KIM LANDERS: It wasn’t just Iraq which dominated today’s hearing.
Veteran Senator Robert Byrd quizzed Robert Gates on US intentions towards Iran and Syria.
ROBERT BYRD: Do you support an attack on Iran?
ROBERT GATES: Robert Byrd, I think that military action against Iran would be an absolute last resort. Once war is unleashed, it becomes unpredictable, and I think that the consequences of conflict, a military conflict with Iran could be quite dramatic.
ROBERT BYRD: Do you support an attack on Syria?
ROBERT GATES: No sir, I do not.
KIM LANDERS: The Senate is expected to have the final vote on the appointment of Robert Gates tomorrow, the same day as the high powered Iraq Study Group’s report is released.
The President has had lunch today with the panel’s Republican co-chairman James Baker to get a limited preview of the report, but he won’t get the final copy until tomorrow and there’s little sense about whether he’ll be inclined to give it the thumbs up or the thumbs down.
The White House certainly has been seeking to dampen expectations about the Baker report, rejecting speculation that it’ll heap more pressure on the President to set a timetable for a US withdrawal from Iraq.
If confirmed by the Senate and sworn in over the next few days, Robert Gates could be on the job as early as next week.
That means Australia’s Defense Minister Brendan Nelson, who is due in Washington next week, could be one of the first foreign officials to meet the new US Defense Secretary.
This is Kim Landers in Washington for The World Today.
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