Robert Gates is the epitome of a moderate political thinker, public servant, and lifelong specialist in international security. After a lengthy career appointment as an analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency, he served as deputy director of the CIA under President Ronald Reagan, deputy national security adviser and, later, director of the CIA under President George H.W. Bush. Gates served for two years as President George W. Bush’s secretary of defense and two-and-a-half more years in the same office under President Barack Obama.
Here is a man with no appetite for bombast. Here is a judicious national security establishment figure firmly aligned with the Bushes, Jim Baker, and Brent Scowcroft. Here is someone who is hard to imagine wearing a MAGA hat but is surely a patriot committed, in his own manner, to American greatness.
Gates is a Republican and is certainly no liberal, but his reputation for moderation, pragmatism, and managerial talent was such that Barack Obama wanted to retain him for a long stint as secretary of defense. It wasn’t the easiest of tenures, but for two and a half years, Gates worked diligently and as smoothly as he could with President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and the rest of the Obama-Biden national security team.
It is therefore a matter of grave alarm—at least a DEFCON 2 and possibly DEFCON 1, the ultimate state of alert—when Gates, that most centered of centrists, asserts that Biden has “been wrong on nearly every foreign policy and national security issue for the past four decades.”
The entire syllabus of Biden’s foreign policy and national security errors is a target-rich environment for the many American Greatness writers with expertise on particular issues. Anyone who makes the case for Biden’s election to the presidency should be made to defend the extremism and demonstrated failure of Biden’s national security record.
Let’s consider Biden’s fatal flaw when it comes to defending the United States, our allies, and friends, against ballistic missiles.
During the Reagan and first Bush administrations, a signature issue for the ambitious senator from Delaware was ballistic missile defense. Biden mocked Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative, insisting that a program for research and development of effective defenses against ICBMs was a dangerous delusion.
Following the lead of his mentor, the late Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), Biden said that the research and development of missile defenses was a waste of money because it was a foregone conclusion that effective defenses would be impossible.
With less than acute logic, Biden also said that R&D for missile defense was “destabilizing.” Why? Well, Biden said, because the program moved in the direction of undoing the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the cornerstone of the Strangelovian “mutual assured destruction” doctrine that encouraged the ever-growing lethality of offensive nuclear weapons on both the Soviet and American sides.
Think about that for a moment. If R&D for missile defense really had been as useless as an alchemist’s labors at turning base metals into gold, why should that have changed the strategic offensive balance between America and the Soviets?
Consider, too: Soviet diplomatic pronouncements and propaganda agitated vehemently against American R&D for missile defense. If the Soviets really had believed that Reagan was wasting American defense dollars in pursuit of a delusion, why didn’t they encourage Reagan to keep doing it? Why did they denounce the program so stridently?
Biden, who has never been regarded as much of a thinker, somehow missed that point.
When Reagan pursued the R&D anyway and the honest scientific community came around more and more to recognize the feasibility of effective ballistic missile defense, Biden and Kennedy remained steadfast in their deep denial.
As a senator, Biden slowed the development and deployment of ballistic missile defenses. Americans, our allies, and our friends should never forget that Biden struggled mightily to prevent them from having the defenses they now enjoy.
Today, the United States has a robust ballistic missile defense program that keeps getting stronger and more capable.
Israel is famous for its effective missile defenses. After first gaining missile defense systems from the United States, Israel’s own homegrown missile defense technology is so substantial that it has become a product for export.
Saudi Arabia has destroyed numerous incoming ballistic missiles over the past several years, including missiles targeted at Riyadh only last week. Without the U.S.-made Patriot missile defense systems that Biden fought to prevent, Saudi Arabia would have sustained crippling damage and casualties from Iranian missiles launched by Tehran’s clients in Yemen.
Countries circling the globe now have ballistic missile defenses because of Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative.
All of the NATO countries are in Reagan’s debt for the anti-missile shield that now protects them.
Japan, Korea, Kuwait, and Bahrain are among the nations with U.S. Patriot defenses.
The United Arab Emirates has the most advanced missile defense assets in the Gulf region. It was the first country outside the United States to deploy a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery.
It pleases Biden’s campaign and the Big Media to describe Biden as some sort of moderate as he prepares to face President Trump in the November election. But the reality is that Biden is on the far-left on all issues, only a tiny bit less extreme in substance and style than Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and “the squad.”
When it comes to missile defense, in fact, there is no meaningful difference between Biden and Sanders.
An authentic moderate is hard to find. Robert Gates comes as close as anyone to meeting the definition.
Before anyone considers electing Biden to the presidency on grounds of the Delaware Democrat’s purported moderation, voters should examine all the reasons why Gates says Biden has “been wrong on nearly every foreign policy and national security issue for the past four decades.”