Gates: Failure in Iraq would be 'calamity'
Deutsche Presse Agentur
Monday December 18, 2006
Washington- US Defence Secretary Robert Gates declared that
resolving the conflict in Iraq will be "at the top of the list" as he
was sworn in Monday to replace the embattled Donald Rumsfeld.
"Failure in Iraq at this juncture would be a calamity that would
haunt our nation, impair our credibility and endanger Americans for
decades to come," Gates, 63, said in a ceremony at the Pentagon.
US President George W Bush dismissed Rumsfeld, 74, one day after
his Republican Party was soundly defeated in November 7 congressional
Bush has said he is seeking a "new way forward" for his policy in
Iraq, which has been unable to defeat the insurgency or halt
sectarian violence that has brought the country to the brink of full-
blown civil war.
Gates said he would soon travel to Iraq to receive briefings from
American military commanders, saying he expected their advice to be
"unvarnished and straight from the shoulder."
Bush intends to outline his new strategy in early January, when
his administration completes its review of the current policy and
plots a fresh approach. Gates served on a congressionally appointed
bipartisan commission assessing the situation in Iraq until Bush
tapped him to replace Rumsfeld.
The panel, co-led by former secretary of state James Baker III,
urged Bush to broaden his administration's diplomacy in the Middle
East and begin pulling troops out of Iraq in early 2008 if the
security environment improves. It also calls for direct dialogue with
Iran and Syria to enlist their help in quelling the violence - an
option Bush has already rejected.
Gates, the director of the CIA from 1991 to 1993, was first sworn
in at the White House in a private event before the public ceremony.
Gates spoke bluntly about the war in Iraq during his Senate
confirmation hearing on December 5, warning that sectarian conflict
between Shiites and Sunnis could spill into the rest of the Middle
East. He also said he does not believe the United States was winning
The Senate went on to confirm him by a 95-2 vote.
© 2006 - dpa German Press Agency