THE BLOG

Georgia: What a Difference a Gates Makes

Sep 15, 2008 | Updated May 25, 2011

You remember that tiresome evangelical favorite: "What would Jesus do?" Well, here's a version I'm glad I don't have to think about concerning the current Georgia crisis: What would Don do?

Following recent disturbing developments in the Caucasus, and after reading the statements from George Bush and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, how thankful I am that the latter is running defense policy and not his predecessor, Dapper Don Rumsfeld. For if Rumsfeld were still in that chair, there is little doubt that Dick Cheney would be the puppet master working the strings of policy. Who knows what mischief he would work in this tenuous, complex and extremely dangerous moment for U.S.-Russia relations.

As for the role Bush is playing -- does this make you feel more or less assured of his abilities?

Mr. Bush went to the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency ... for a briefing on the situation in Georgia. "Got a lot of folks, smart folks, analyzing the situation on the ground and, of course, briefing us on different possibilities that could develop in the area and the region," he said...

Does this give you the impression that in acknowledging there are "smart folks" analyzing the situation, he's excluding himself?

You'll remember that Bush infamously said after meeting Putin for the first time that he felt he could trust him because he'd looked into his eyes and "gotten a sense of his soul?" I wonder what, if anything, Bush is thinking about that stupid statement now.

When I read the following from Gates, which is an implicit rebuke of such nonsense, I thought: finally we have a defense secretary who has a head on his shoulders:

At the Pentagon, Mr. Gates was asked whether he trusted Mr. Putin anymore, and he paused before responding.

" 'Anymore' is an interesting add," he said. "I have never believed that one should make national security policy on the basis of trust. I think you make national security policy based on interests and on realities."

Thank God for realism. We've had seven disastrous years of fantasy, lies, and wishful thinking. If I were Barack Obama and I won the election I'd even consider asking Gates to remain in his post.