During an interview with Newsweek today, departing Defense Secretary Robert Gates questioned whether the Obama administration is willing or able to continue America’s leading role in the world, indicating that he may become a thorn in the side for President Obama’s 2012 bid.
“I’ve spent my entire adult life with the United States as a superpower, and one that had no compunction about spending what it took to sustain that position,” Gates told Newsweek. “It didn’t have to look over its shoulder because our economy was so strong. This is a different time.”
He added that the possibility that America may be forced to cede its superpower status helped drive his decision to step down to step down from his role as secretary of defense.
“To tell you the truth, that’s one of the many reasons it’s time for me to retire, because frankly I can’t imagine being part of a nation, part of a government … that’s being forced to dramatically scale back our engagement with the rest of the world,” said Gates.
Gates, a highly respected figure, has the potential to become a damaging critic of Obama from outside the administration. Obama has been seen as eager to relinquish America’s role in the world, and this gives Republican a prime opening to attack him on during the election. Of course, that also means that the GOP candidates would have to start giving a more robust defense of American power, something that we saw disappointingly little of during the last debate, as Jonathan wrote earlier.