The good news about Robert Gates: He seems to understand, better than most of his soon-to-be colleagues in the Bush administration, that the United States isn't exactly on the road to victory in Iraq just now. As Gates' confirmation hearing began this morning, Sen. Carl Levin asked him if the United States was winning in Iraq. His answer: "No, sir."
The bad news about Robert Gates: Bush's nominee to replace Donald Rusmfeld doesn't seem to know, any better than any of his soon-to-be-colleagues in the Bush administration do, how the United States should proceed in Iraq now. "Our course over the next year or two will determine whether the American and Iraqi people and the next president of the United States will face a slowly and steadily improving situation in Iraq and in the region or will face the very real risk of a regional conflagration," Gates told the Senate Armed Services Committee this morning.
Gates told the senators that "all options are on the table" for Iraq, but he wouldn't say which options he'll be advocating once he's confirmed.