As you know, there was a lot of chatter yesterday about Obama keeping Bob Gates on at Defense for some indeterminate period of time. And we can talk a lot about whether or not that's a good thing. But what I'm not hearing a lot about in this discussion is the role of Brent Scowcroft. And I don't think any of this can be properly understood without reference to his role.
One thing to understand about Bob Gates is that he's a Scowcroft guy.
Scowcroft, to the best of my knowledge, never endorsed Obama. But he also, very pointedly, didn't endorse McCain either. And going back many months he's been an important player, far in the background and not for public consumption, in the Obama world. Remember, Hagel, who's sort of been Obama's Joe Lieberman (in the good sense) is very close to Scowcroft. He and Powell are close too. He's the guy who brings all this stuff together.
It's also worth knowing that Scowcroft has also been involved in a multi-year rearguard battle against the neocons in the Bush administration, especially in key efforts trying to block sundry wars with Iran, shut down John Bolton, etc.
This is not to say that Scowcroft is pulling anyone's strings. But to understand the Gates' decision (which I understand is going to happen) you need to look at this on-going conversation and perhaps even de facto alliance with the Scowcroft/GOP foreign policy world.