WASHINGTON, D.C. – The votes cast by the American people yesterday clearly signal their desire for a new course in Iraq.
The resignation of Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense is a necessary and long overdue first step in the development of a new strategy for Iraq and the wider war on global terrorist networks.
Robert Gates has served the nation with distinction in various roles and continues to do so as a member of the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group. If confirmed as the new secretary of defense, he will confront significant challenges. During the confirmation process the Senate should question the prospective secretary about the real situation in Iraq and get his answers on what new strategy the administration proposes.
We at the Center for American Progress believe that the American people deserve a strategy that applies all of the available foreign policy tools, diplomatic, economic and military, to these challenges. We hope that the President will use this moment and the insights Mr. Gates will bring from his work on the Iraq Study Group to chart a new course. We believe that the strategy developed by the Center last year, Strategic Redeployment, contains many of the core elements necessary to affect a positive change for the Iraqi people, the region and the U.S. leadership role in the world.
In addition to the difficult challenges of Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and other weak and failing states, Mr. Gates will need to apply his leadership to restoring the readiness of the U.S. military that has eroded from the non-stop operations since 2001, as well as to the pressing problems presented by North Korea, Iran and dangers of nuclear terrorism. The Center for American Progress looks forward to working with the new Congress and the new secretary of defense in forging a bipartisan strategic consensus to better protect America.