Robert Gates, the president's nominee to replace Donald Rumsfeld as secretary of defense, was unequivocal today when Sen. Carl Levin asked him if the United States is winning in Iraq. "No, sir," he said.
That was this morning -- before the wire services put "not winning" in the headlines they were moving, and before administration critics started pointing out that the president himself said just the other day that the United States is, in fact, "winning" in Iraq.
This afternoon before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Gates offered what he called a "clarification" of his earlier remarks about not winning. "I want to make clear that that pertains to the situation in Iraq as a whole," he said. He said that "we all applaud and appreciate" what U.S. troops are doing in Iraq, and he said he doesn't know of a single battle that they've lost. But, he said, "The situation in Iraq is much more complex than just the military actions."