Sec. Gates looks ahead in Iraq
June 19th, 2011
09:01 AM ET
7 years ago

Sec. Gates looks ahead in Iraq

Washington (CNN)-Defense Secretary Robert Gates discussed triumphs and trials in Iraq Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."

"I am worried about Iranian influence (in Iraq)," he revealed. But, "We have taken a real toll on (al Qaeda) over the last two years."

Gates described a commitment to Iraq in the form of a "residual American presence" beyond December 2011 to "train" and "participate in counterterrorism."

"The truth is most of our kids who have been killed recently have been killed by extremist Shia groups," he said. "Not by al Qaeda in Iraq, but by extremist Shia groups. And they are clearly getting some sophisticated and powerful weapons from Iran."

Although al Qaeda is "significantly weakened" following the death of Osama bin Laden, according to Gates, the future of the terrorist group depends on "whether (Ayman al-) Zawahiri, the new leader taking bin Laden's place, can hold these groups together in some kind of a cohesive movement, or whether it begins to splinter."

"And we just don't know that yet," he said.

What is clear for Gates is the importance of protecting the U.S. military, and the impact that possible budget cuts will have on that force.

"We need to be honest with the president, with the Congress, with the American people…about what those consequences are," he said. "A smaller military, no matter how superb, we'll be able to go fewer places and be able to do fewer things."

Gates believes that military training and programs for the families of service members should be exempt from budget cuts, and he warned of the dangers of across-the-board cuts, which he said have the effect of making everything "mediocre."

"The United States has been a global power since late in the 19th century," he asserted.

"We have interest, we have allies, we have partners. And we find there's a bad history. When we turn inward, we end up in a really big war."

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Filed under: Content Partner • Iraq • Robert Gates • TV-State of the Union
soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Democrat Class Warfare - Destroying the economy, destroying the country

    "We have interest, we have allies, we have partners. And we find there's a bad history. When we turn inward, we end up in a really big war."
    And when we turn outward, we get engaged in endless war in multiple countries at the same time. I guess we get to pick our poison. Or maybe we need to realize our military needs to be used for OUR defense and only in OUR defense. If we choose to station troops abroad in support of our allies, those allies should be expected to pick up the cost of those troops if they can afford to do so. No more free lunches. We simply cannot afford to protect, defend and free the entire world.

    June 19, 2011 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  2. Clwyd

    Choice #1 Get out!, Choice #2 Get out, Choice #3 Get out!.................... Choice #1,000,000Get out!

    June 19, 2011 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  3. Sgt Joe

    Can you imagine our economy had these wars been funded from the beginning with a "war" taxes to pay for them? Seems it was all put on a giant credit card and we'll be paying for a very long time. With the wealthy getting more than their share of tax breaks and loopholes the burden seems to have fallen on the middle to lower class who also, from my experience, make up the larger part of military personnel. Interesting. I know a very wealthy couple who almost seem embarrassed because they paid zero taxes last year. Now that's a problem people!

    June 19, 2011 10:23 am at 10:23 am |