Unlike the old one, he doesn't ask and answer his own questions or speak in abstract riddles -- yet, at least. But who is the new Secretary of Defense?
"A hawk," answers The New York Times
. Behold, Robert Gates' philosophy:
His favorite quotation from history, he told reporters traveling with him this week for meetings with allies and commanders in Europe and the Middle East, is from Frederick the Great, the 18th century Prussian monarch and gifted musician: âNegotiations without arms are like music books without instruments.â
Or, put another way, it takes military power to create the leverage necessary to make negotiations fruitful.
In application, that means more troops in Iraq, more troops in Afghanistan, and, to make the Iranians come around, more troops and aircraft carriers in the region (until that time, Gates has mused, it's just not worth talking to them).
Here's how that would work in Iraq: the troop buildup is designed as "a source of leverage over the Iraqi prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki" -- the buildup will halt "if Iraqâs Shiite-dominated government does not deliver on promises to send its own troops to Baghdad and not to interfere with operations against Shiite death squads in Baghdad."
But what if it doesn't work? The real test of Gates' influence in the administration -- one that's been fond of tough talk -- "will be whether the United States follows through on this threat if Mr. Maliki does not comply with those promises."