Robert Gates Continues His War-Avoidance Intervention
January 20, 2014 • 5:10AM

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates continued his war-avoidance campaign in appearances Sunday morning on CNN and NBC, telling CNN's Fareed Zakaria that he wrote his book at this time to force debate on vital issues of national security that cannot wait for the 2016 elections or for the next administration to come into office in 2017. He said that there are deep concerns about how the United States will deal with allies like Saudi Arabia and Israel. He said that his greatest worry for the future centers on the hasty use of military force. Unless the United States is directly threatened, he warned, the use of military force should be the very last option. He reiterated that the biggest doves in Washington wear military uniforms and that he received continuous feedback from military families that they knew he was personally concerned about the safety of their sons and daughters fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Gates, asked about his greatest security concerns in the near future, said that the ``paralysis in DC'' is the number one problem which has created a situation of uncertainty about future U.S. defense programs. He noted that, in the past 40 years, we have not gotten a single military crisis right, and this has to change.

Zakaria asked Gates specifically about his views on the consequences of an Israeli or American military strike against Iran. He replied that he did not believe that it would end well, and that Iran has the capacity to strike back asymmetrically against oil fields, against allies in the region and even against U.S. naval assets. He also argued that any military action would make it ``inevitable that Iran would become a nuclear state.'' Gates noted that, with the exceptions of World War II and Operation Desert Storm, there have been no clearcut victories in any of America's military adventures abroad. He said that one of his cardinal rules as secretary of defense was that the United States should finish the two ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq before launching any additional wars, including the Libya war.

Gates also told Zakaria that he does not view China as a ``military adversary of the United States today.'' He added that the future situation will be largely determined by how the leadership in both countries relate to one another.