America is at risk of losing its global supremacy, says departing Defense Secretary Robert Gates in a Newsweek article released Sunday.
“I’ve spent my entire adult life with the United States as a superpower, and one that had no compunction about spending what it took to sustain that position. It didn’t have to look over its shoulder because our economy was so strong. This is a different time,” he says. (Chris Wallace takes a shot at White House on behalf of ‘Fox News Sunday’)
He also claims that’s one of his reasons for stepping down from his post, which he’s held since the Bush administration. He “can’t imagine being part of a nation…that’s being forced to dramatically scale back our engagement with the rest of the world.”
Gates has come under fire at various points during his tenure at the Department of Defense, often for not cutting enough from the Pentagon’s budget. But he doesn’t accept that criticism as valid. “Congress is all over the place,” he tells Newsweek, and some members of the Republican Party bash him for cutting too much while others want him to cut more.
That doesn’t mean Gates doesn’t own up to anything. In fact, he tells the magazine that he was wrong on how to go about getting Osama bin Laden. He admits he was in favor of airstrikes, and not using ground troops, to get the al-Qaeda leader. Of course, Gates didn’t get his way, President Obama did, and bin Laden was killed.
He also acknowledges another mistake: his decision-making in Afghanistan, which he compares to the Vietnam War. He insists he and President Obama have found the right strategy for the conflict, but that they were too late to the game.
Gates will be replaced by CIA director Leon Panetta when he retires.