Robert Gates, who served as defense secretary under both former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama from 2006 to 2011, made his calls in a column for Saturday’s New York Times, Sputnik reported.
He welcomed his former government colleague Biden’s pledges to re-engage with US “friends and allies” as well as international organizations like NATO, while making greater use of “nonmilitary instruments of power”.
But Gates said Biden should continue President Donald Trump’s confrontations with NATO allies’ defense budgets, the construction of a gas pipeline from Russia, and Turkey’s purchase of state-of-the-art surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) from Moscow.
“Germany must be held to account not just for its pathetic level of military spending, but also for trading the economic and security interests of Poland and Ukraine for the economic benefits of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline running from Russia to Germany”, the former defense chief said.
“Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 air defense system against repeated American warnings must have costs”, Gates wrote. “And Ankara must also be held to account for its actions in Libya, the eastern Mediterranean and Syria that contravene the interests of other NATO allies and complicate efforts to achieve peace”.
He also urged “consequences” for NATO members, including Turkey, Hungary, and Poland, for what he called their “authoritarianism”. While admitting the military alliance — dating from the Cold War — has no mechanism for expelling members, the US could use “creative diplomacy”, including “suspension or other punitive steps”.
Gates argued that the US should continue its belligerent stance towards Asian economic giant China not just with “security” agencies, but all government departments, along with private-sector economic power, in “true ‘whole of government’ American strategies and operations”.
Rather than relying only punitive measures like sanctions and tariffs, Washington should “be more creative in finding positive economic inducements to persuade other countries to act — or not act — in accordance with our interests”, Gates wrote, using “nonmilitary tools like conventional diplomacy, development assistance and public diplomacy to protect America’s interests and advance our objectives.”
International bodies scorned by Trump could be used as “conduits for American influence around the world”, Gates argued, accusing Beijing of “seeding” the United Nations and its various agencies with officials as he claimed the Soviet Union did. “When we walk away from the World Health Organization and other such organizations, we provide the Chinese with opportunities to dominate them and use them for their own purposes”, he claimed.