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Nomination Of Robert M. Gates--Continued

Location: Washington, DC

NOMINATION OF ROBERT M. GATES--Continued -- (Senate - December 06, 2006)


Mr. OBAMA. Mr. President, my vote today for Robert Gates is a vote for significant change in our Iraq policy.

Last month, the American people uniformly rejected the policy-by-slogan approach to Iraq, rejected the false choice between ``cut-and-run'' and ``stay the course'' rejected ideological, insular, and wrongheaded leadership at the Pentagon. Dr. Gates' challenge will be to help President Bush chart a new course that takes a realistic view of the deteriorating situation in Iraq and makes the hard decisions to salvage an acceptable outcome to this long and misguided war.

There are several signs that give me hope that Robert Gates is up to this challenge. First and most important is the environment in which Gates is taking the Pentagon's helm. Following the election, it is clear the American people expect significant change in Iraq. President Bush nominated Gates with a mandate to find ``fresh perspective and new ideas'' for Iraq. And today's Iraq Study Group's report helped create a framework to move forward, in a bipartisan fashion, with a shift in U.S. policy. As I laid out in a speech 3 weeks ago, I believe this shift must include a phased redeployment of U.S. forces in Iraq, a new diplomatic effort that includes engagement with Iran and Syria and other key nations, and a stance that conditions further assistance to progress in Iraq. All of these were also proposed by the Iraq Study Group.

Second, in his own congressional testimony and comments, Dr. Gates has expressed openness to new ideas, saying that all options should be on the table for Iraq. He expressed refreshing candor in admitting past mistakes in Iraq. And Gates promised to work in a constructive, respectful way with military commanders, the Iraq Study Group, and Congress to find a new way forward.

Third is Gates' extensive experience. He served for 26 years in the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Council, and he was the only career officer in the CIA's history to rise from entry-level employee to Director.

Everyone knows that Gates' job will not be easy. There are no good options left in Iraq. There is no set of policy changes that can guarantee a good outcome. There is a great resistance to change in this administration, from the President down. Among Presidential appointees, there still is significant danger in speaking truth to power.

The President, Senate, and the American people are putting a great deal on Dr. Gates' shoulders. I am voting for him with the hope that he can make us proud.


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