Yuval Levin notes that President Obama’s speech today on fiscal policy seems to put the White House and the Pentagon on different pages regarding the defense budget. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, in the words of spokesman Geoff Morrell, “has been clear that further significant defense cuts cannot be accomplished without reducing force structure and military capability.” Obama’s speech suggested the opposite.
One gets the distinct impression that Obama doesn’t much care what Gates thinks these days. On Libya, it’s fairly obvious that Gates was outvoted, and his statements since Obama decided to intervene have been anywhere from lukewarm to completely at odds with the President’s position.
Gates is expected to retire at some point this year (speculation about who will replace him has been getting louder). Perhaps he should consider leaving sooner rather than later. It’s getting a bit sad to watch him become increasingly irrelevant at the tail end of his career.