If Iraq and Afghanistan have taught us anything in recent history, it is the unpredictability of war and that these things are easier to get into than to get out of, and, frankly, the facile way in which too many people talk about, 'Well, let's just go attack them.— Robert M. Gates
The most tremendous Robert M. Gates quotes to get the best of your day
I'm a big advocate of drones.
No policy has proved more successful in making friends for the United States, during the cold war and since, than educating students from abroad at our colleges and universities.
I have tried to maintain civil relationships with everyone I meet - and, even if I violently disagree with them, try to be respectful.
Future U.S. political leaders – those for whom the Cold War was not the formative experience that it was for me – may not consider the return on America’s investment in NATO worth the cost.
I think that Iran with a nuclear weapon is extremely destabilizing.
I think it could precipitate a nuclear arms race in the region.
Most governments lie to each other. That's the way business gets done.
I will always be an advocate in terms of wars of necessity.
I am just much more cautious on wars of choice.
We should never lose sight of the ethos that has made the Marine Corps - where 'every Marine is a rifleman' - one of America's cherished institutions and one of the world's most feared and respected fighting forces
One of the toughest battles in intelligence is combating conventional wisdom.
The reality is, the United States has global interests.
Our defense budget is about the same as the defense budgets or military budgets of every other country in the world put together.
And so the greatest of American triumphs.
.. became a peculiarly joyless victory. We had won the Cold War, but there would be no parades.
There will be boots on the ground if there's to be any hope of success in the strategy.
Some people have said, in so many words, that I'm kind of wooly-headed in believing that the Iranians would see not having nuclear weapons as more in their security interest than not.
What I know concerns me. What I don't know concerns me even more. What people aren't telling me worries me the most.
On the foreign policy side, there's the risk of being too spontaneous and too disruptive where you end up doing more harm than damage. And figuring out that balance is where having strong people around you matters.
When I was the director of Central Intelligence in the early '90s, I tried to get the Air Force to partner with us in building drones. And they didn't want to, because they had no pilots.
I had no concerns - I had no reason to have concerns based on what was available to me about North's contacts with the private sector people, but I didn't think a CIA person should do it.
I think that Vladimir Putin is certainly getting a lot of publicity for what the Russians are doing. And I'm not sure that's unwelcome to him. I think this is a guy who saw the U.S. basically come out against him in his reelection campaign in 2012. He saw the U.S. being behind all of the color revolutions in Eastern Europe and in Georgia and Ukraine and so on. So his view is the West has been interfering in his politics for years.
In government, I'm a strong believer in the need for reform of government agencies and departments. They - they have gotten fat and sloppy, and they're not user friendly. They are inefficient. They cost too much.
If possible, to be in a position to announce who is going to step in as the interim immediately. And if possible, to announce who you're going to nominate to replace that person. For that to be somebody of impeccable integrity and reputation disarms a lot of the worst criticism that it's some kind of a power play. It's a professional approach to replacing a senior official, which is always going to get a lot of attention.
It's a very broad and not very well-disguised effort of Russians to create questions about the legitimacy of these Western elections. And, I think, this is very K.G.B.
Well, what I've said is that the war in Iraq will always be clouded by how it began, which was a wrong premise, that there were in fact no weapons of nuclear - weapons of mass destruction.
I consider myself a Republican.
I've seen, all too often in my career, people coming in to lead agencies and organizations and trying to impose change from the top down. Never works. You never have enough time.
I think Donald Trump has gotten China's attention to a degree that his predecessors have not that this is a very serious matter for the United States.
I had no difficulty as Secretary of Defense moving from the Bush administration to the Obama administration.
I think that - that the disruptive nature, the tough talk on North Korea, the military deployments, sending the missile defense system to South Korea, I think these are all good things to have done.
Congress is best viewed from a distance - the farther the better - because up close, it is truly ugly.
There's a lot of books out there about how you lead change in business, but I've certainly not seen any... on how you do that in public institutions.
Every time we have come to the end of a conflict, somehow we have persuaded ourselves that the nature of mankind and the nature of the world have changed on an enduring basis and so we have dismantle our military and intelligence capabilities. My hope is that as we wind down in Iraq and whatever the level of our commitment in Afghanistan, that we not forget the basic nature of humankind has not changed.
I mean, when you get down to very low numbers of nuclear weapons, and you contemplate going to zero, how do you deal with the reality of that technology being available to almost any country that seeks to pursue it? And what conditions do you put in place?
If there's ever an example that military power alone cannot be successful in Afghanistan, I think it was the Soviet experience.
I don't think any president that I worked with has ever said 'pretty please.
Soviet foreign ministers would come in to see the president all the time, routinely. Jimmy Carter stopped that after the invasion of Afghanistan. Ronald Reagan resumed it in 1984, I think. And so the fact of a meeting like that I think is not that big a deal.
I don't know General Michael Flynn well, but it's hard for me to believe anybody would allow themselves to be blackmailed by the Russians because they didn't tell the full story or didn't tell the truth to the vice president of the United States who works 50 feet down the hall.
Defense is not like other discretionary spending.
If Poindexter made a comment to me like that, it would have been in the context of once the authorized program is approved there would be no point in having any of these private benefactors any longer.
Often, loyalty means telling people things they don't want to hear.
It's not being sycophantic, it's not telling them how wonderful they are every day. It's being willing to tell them the days they're not wonderful.
I think, on the foreign policy side, that there is a need for disruption.
We've had three administrations follow a pretty consistent policy toward North Korea, and it really hasn't gotten us anywhere.
My last visit to China as secretary, January of 2011, I told President Hu Jintao, just like this, "President of the United States wanted me to tell you that we now consider North Korea a direct threat to the United States." And it had no effect whatsoever.
Development is a lot cheaper than sending soldiers.
The United States has been a global power since late in the 19th century.
I read in the press, and therefore it must be true, that no secretary of defense had ever been quoted as arguing for a bigger budget for State.
It's clear the relationship between China and North Korea has hardly ever been worse. Kim Jong-un has never been to Beijing in his leadership. The Chinese press are saying some amazingly negative things about the north, and about Kim Jong-un. So - so they are weighing in, and they are bringing greater pressure. Whether it will be enough I think remains to be seen.
Power... Military success is not sufficient to win: economic development, institution-building and the rule of law, promoting internal reconciliation, good governance, providing basic services to the people, training and equipping indigenous military and police forces, strategic communications, and more of these, along with security, are essential ingredients for long-term success.
I didn't think this whole business with Director James Comey was handled well.
So there are sort of day-to-day aspects of the operation that I think are really troublesome. And I know that there are a lot of people in the country who have lots of issues with decisions that Donald Trump has making on the domestic side.
I think when it comes to the issues, I'd advise him to stick to the script.
But, I mean, Donald Trump is going to have some very tough conversations and he's going to be talking about some very tough and complicated issues in all of the places that he visits.I think anytime a president does things that are humanizing, I think it's - it's good.
I think in the policies that have been followed since the president Donald Trump came into office, there really hasn't been any slack cut for the Russians. And I think one of the things that has surprised people has been that the relationship between the United States and Russia has in fact deteriorated since the election.
I wish I could set deadlines for the Congress, but that's just not the way the Constitution is written.