Robert Gates: US should give Iraq 'wide range of military assistance'

But US military aid for Iraq should be contingent on evidence that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is reaching out to Sunnis, says former Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Iraq's government is lately battling attacks from Al Qaeda-linked insurgents. 

By , Staff writer

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    Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, author of 'Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War,' speaks at the St. Regis Hotel in Washington Jan. 17, 2014, at a breakfast hosted by The Christian Science Monitor.
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Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates served eight presidents in various capacities: White House staffer, CIA director, and at the Pentagon. Mr. Gates was the guest at the Jan. 17 Monitor Breakfast.

How to fix the congressional dysfunction he laments:

"What can be fixed, starting tomorrow, is the way people treat each other ... to treat each other with respect ... to listen ... to not demonize each other....

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The Obama administration's opposition to new sanctions on Iran while talks are under way:

"The president is absolutely right to oppose Congress in enacting any additional sanctions right now.... [It] would run a very high risk of blowing [negotiations] all up."

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's request for weapons and training to deal with Al Qaeda-linked insurgents:

"If I were sitting in the situation room today, I would recommend that we offer the Maliki government a wide range of military assistance ... conditioning it on his outreach to the Sunnis."

Key presidential qualities:

"One thing that ... is really important [is] ... for the president to have a sense of humor.... [It] reflects a balance and a perspective on the world that is very healthy."

Response to his book:

"I've had the growing feeling ... that my book has become like Lenin. You can find in it whatever you want to support your position on the political spectrum."

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