On his trip west to reassure America's allies in the Pacific, Secretary Gates told David Cloud of the LA Times that despite potential rumblings, the military relationship between the U.S. and China is in good shape. Here's what he said, per Cloud:
Gates, who has announced he is stepping down at the end of this month, is on his final overseas trip as Defense secretary. He is expected to meet Thursday with his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Liang Guanglie.Gates also tried to tamp down some of the Palace gossip about Gen. Martin Dempsey's recent nomination to become the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs. The current vice chairman, Marine Gen. James Cartwright, didn't get passed over because he opposed Gates' and Adm. Mullen's views on the Afghanistan surge, Gates insists.
China's military modernization remains a source of concern to the U.S., but the two nations' military relationship is on the upswing, Gates said.
"We are not trying to hold them down," Gates said. "China has been a global power for thousands of years. It is a global power and will be a global power."
So why did he? What was the deal with Obama's choices? Wrote Cloud:
"I've been in a dialogue with the president on these succession issues for at least a year," Gates said. "Some of the negative things that have been reported as influencing the decision … are completely wrong."
Gates implied that Cartwright's reputation as a loner worked against him.
"The cohesiveness that we have had for the last two years I think has been an extraordinary asset for the president and the country, and so foremost in my mind was … how do we sustain [that] kind of teamwork," Gates said.
He would not disclose details of the internal administration deliberations on the selection of Dempsey. As Defense secretary, Gates makes a private recommendation to Obama on whom to choose as chairman and other top military posts, which normally carries great weight in the selection.