Robert Gates lambastes GOP candidates on ISIS

Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates inveighed against GOP frontrunner Donald Trump and Texas Senator Ted Cruz for their ISIS policy during an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

They don’t know what they’re talking about,” Gates said. “Carpet bombing would be completely useless. It’s totally contrary to the American way of war.  Total disregard for civilians. So, I mean, part of the concern that I have with the campaign, particularly when it comes to national security, is that the solutions being offered are so simplistic and so at odds with the reality of the rest of the world, with the way the world really works.”

Gates was responding to both Trump’s and Cruz’s public statements in which the two Republicans implied colossal aerial bombardments alone would break ISIS’ ability to wage war.

Trump has repeatedly stated he “would bomb the [expletive] out of ISIS;” similarly, Cruz promised to “carpet bomb [ISIS] into oblivion” during a recent Iowa campaign rally.

Analysis

Gates is a man who deserves to be heard.

Along with General Alexander Haig, Robert Gates is among one of the finest government officials in recent American history. 

Gates, who served admirably as Secretary of Defense under President George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and in various intelligence roles under President George H.W. Bush and President Reagan, joins a chorus line of former Obama Administration officials who have criticized Mr. Obama or candidates seeking the Oval Office on confronting the Islamic State.

Former Defense Secretary and CIA head Leon Panetta censured Mr. Obama’s handling of Iraq, ISIS and Syria in late 2014 in his memoir, Worthy Fights.

The notion ISIS would capitulate under the weight of an intensive bombing campaign is both gauzy and unworkable and represents a feeble attempt to drum up support among primary voters.

Those who propose such policy ignore historical evidence:  The Strategic Bombing Survey completed after the end of World War II concluded although Allied airpower was decisive, hampered the Nazi war machine, and enabled the Normandy landings, it did not break the willpower of German citizens and, further, despite coordination and planning, it did not ever wholly bring to a standstill industrial production critical to the German war effort.

Once believed to visit destruction on population and economic devices and prevail upon a government to succumb to the opposition, a military strategy dependent on aerial bombardment to safeguard military triumph has been repudiated through confirmation from modern military campaigns.

Mr. Gates is a distinguished public servant, eminent scholar and prolific author.  More men or women akin to Gates are needed in government.  If more men or women similar to Gates are unavailable for government roles, similar minded individuals are required to maintain a constant presence on the airwaves to circulate Gates’ wisdom.

 

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