The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

Gates urges compromise

Senior+political+analyst+for+CNN+David+Gergen+speaks+with+former+U.S.+Secretary+of+Defense+Robert+M.+Gates.
Spencer J Eggers/The Daily Campus
Senior political analyst for CNN David Gergen speaks with former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates.

Senior political analyst for CNN David Gergen speaks with former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates. (Spencer J Eggers/The Daily Campus)

To secure the nation’s future, American political leaders must learn to compromise, Former Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates said, when addressing a packed McFarlin Auditorium Tuesday evening for the second Tate lecture of the season. CNN Senior Political Analyst David Gergen moderated the discussion.

Gates, who admitted the Cold War heavily influences his world view, said political polarization, resulting in an inability to resolve crises like the nation’s debt and deficit and crumbling infrastructure, is a mounting threat to American national security from within. Those issues, Gates said, require the focused application of a consistent strategy over the course of many years and will never be resolved during one presidency or one Congress.

“My concern is that that requires compromise — people coming together from both the (political) left and the right and agreeing on a fundamental strategy that can be supported whether or not one party or another controls the Congress or the presidency,” Gates said. “Unfortunately today, compromise has become a dirty word, synonymous with abandoning your principles — of walking away from what you believe in. And yet the Constitution itself is a bundle of compromise.”

Gates, who called himself an incurable optimist, said he’s pessimistic about the outlook for future statesmen who might successfully address the nation’s woes. Though the structural challenges we face have developed over the course of many years, the political leaders elected today will be responsible for addressing them, Gates said.

On Iraq, the most controversial of his charges during his tenure as Secretary of Defense, Gates said the progress is fragile and “messy,” but on the right path. For the U.S., military operations in Iraq will essentially be concluded this December.

“The future of Iraq is up to the Iraqis,” Gates said.

However, America’s engagement there will always carry a stain.

“The war in Iraq will always be tainted by the fact that the premise under which we went in proved to be wrong,” Gates said. “I don’t think anybody was misled, I think people were just wrong.”

Gates said he believes Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein preferred to have international leaders think he possessed weapons of mass destruction, and the foreign intelligence community supported that conclusion erroneously.

In July, Gates retired as the U.S.’ 22nd Secretary of Defense. He was called to serve under George W. Bush in 2006 and stayed in that role under Pres. Obama. He served as the president of Texas A&M.

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