Gates: Future Presidents Will Likely Be More Cautious of Preemptive Wars After Iraq

Stricter Criteria to Be Demanded Before Future Invasions

by Jason Ditz, March 12, 2009

Speaking in an interview on PBS, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he believes that in the wake of the disastrous 2003 invasion of Iraq, future US presidents will be “very, very cautious” about attacking other nations, and that the “hurdle is much higher today than it was six or seven years ago.”

Gates admitted that the previous administration “didn’t anticipate at the time that this could be a protracted counter-insurgency kind of challenge and it clearly turned out to be that.” Six years after the invasion, over 130,000 American troops remain on the ground in Iraq.

At the same time, Gates patted himself on the back for the drop in violence in Iraq over the past year, saying “I think clearly the war in Iraq is in a better place than it was when I took this job and I think I’ve had some part in that.” Gates did not mention the study that showed the drop in violence was caused by sectarian cleansing of neighborhoods, which caused an enormous refugee problem across the region.

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