It has just been announced that unpopular Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is “stepping down”. This is no doubt a positive step for the Bush Administration, the nation, and the world as a whole, but it comes as too little too late, as the disastrous Iraq war has already cost the lives of almost 3,000 troops and hundreds of thousands of others.
What’s interesting about this story, to me at least, is who President Bush has nominated to replace Rumsfield: former CIA Director (under George Bush, Sr.) and current Texas A&M University president Dr. Robert Gates. Gates has already turned down one Bush nomination, after Bush offered to make him to be the nation’s first Director of National Intelligence in 2005. Gates declined, and the nomination subsequently went to John Negroponte. At the time, Gates cited his desire to stay on at Texas A&M in a position that he was truly enjoying. Apparently, though, the current offer was too good to pass up.
This will be an unfortunate development for A&M, as it will lose a president who has been a tremendously positive force since his tenure began in 2002. Gates has led several measures to help A&M improve its national standing and he has been an outspoken supporter of the university’s racial diversity initiatives, despite opposition from an overwhelmingly conservative student body.
Although I have some reservations about Gates being the former head of the CIA–an organization that has historically been involved in sabotaging popular Democratic movements across the developing world–I have been more than impressed with his work at Texas A&M University. I believe that he would make a fine Secretary of Defense, and that he is much more reasonable than anyone else we could have expected to be nominated by the Bush Administration.
Hopefully, if he is confirmed, he will bring some reason and moderation to the current administration and be able to maintain his independence despite working for a dangerously hawkish president.
Update: Here is Dr. Gate’s announcement of his nomination.