Gates criticises US lawmakers

15/12/2011

Retired US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates heavily criticised US lawmakers in a speech at the Atlantic Council on December 13th. He referred in particular to the inability of the congressional Supercommittee to agree on additional fiver-year spending cuts of $1.2 trillion as of 2013. The lack of agreement will trigger sequestration, a mechanism including automatic budget cuts of $600 bn for the Pentagon. Calling Washington a town of “oversized egos and undersized backbones,” Gates said: “Zero-sum politics and ideological siege warfare are the new order of the day. [The] moderate centre, the foundation of our political system, is not holding.” Besides concerns about congressional redistricting and the loss of power of committee chairmen, the former secretary mentioned the possible consequences of new political decision-makers coming to power for US-EU relations. “The politicians and policymakers who will follow us will not have the same historical, personal and indeed emotional tie to Europe and may not consider the return on America's investment in Europe’s defence worth the cost and that will be a tragedy,” he said.

In June 2011, Robert Gates gave his final policy speech as US Defense Secretary at the SDA. He warned NATO of a “dim” future and especially urged European Allies to increase their efforts. Find the transcript of his speech here.