As Obama’s aides continue to try to stifle hopes for the radical policy changes that were a cornerstone of his sweeping electoral victory, the surest sign thus far that little is going to change after the January 20 inauguration is swirling reports that he may ask Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to remain in his position.
No final decision has been made, of course, and it isn’t even clear that Secretary Gates would be willing to stay on with the new administration. Proponents of the move, like former Ambassador Nancy Soderberg, believe the move will signal that the new administration is serious about reaching out to more pragmatic Republicans. But is that a good thing?
After all, Obama’s victory is seen by many as a mandate for change… not exactly conducive to keeping the same person in charge of the Pentagon who is overseeing the Bush Administration’s unpopular foreign policy. Many antiwar activists would prefer to see someone with a legitimate opposition to the assorted wars the Obama Administration is soon to inherit.
Making the potential appointment more difficult, Secretary Gates recently called for the United States to modernize its nuclear arsenal as a hedge against the growing influence of Russia and China, and slammed Congress for cutting funding to the program, saying it was misguided and stemmed from an aversion to nuclear weapons.