In an interview on CBS News’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, former Obama Defense Secretary Robert Gates claimed that the biggest threat facing the nation today is how polarized the country has become.
Gates and CBS News’s Margaret Brennan discussed a wide range of subjects, including China, the war in Ukraine, and the current debt ceiling talks between the White House and Congressional Republicans.
When Brennan asked what he believed is the biggest threat facing the nation today, Gates said it is the current polarization in the country. He said while the nation has always experienced polarization, the difference today is that there is a “level of meanness and a lack of civility” between elected politicians that have caused opposing sides to view each other as enemies.
Gates added that it is possible to disagree with people without demonizing them. He said Americans should remember that “we’re all in this together” and whatever happens, regardless of whether someone is from a red state or blue state, happens to every American.
When discussing US support for Ukraine, Gates suggested that the Biden administration is dragging its feet in providing much-needed weapons systems to Ukraine, including rocket launchers, fighter jets, and tanks.
Gates said the Biden administration only sends weapons systems after “months and months of indecision.” He said the administration spent months worrying about sending F-16s to Ukraine and now Biden finally said he approved plans to allow Ukrainian pilots to be trained on F-16s. Gates told Brennan that this is the kind of decision that should have been made six months ago.
Gates said if Ukrainian pilots started training six months ago, they would already be prepared to fly the F-16s in battle.
While he acknowledged the administration’s concern about avoiding a confrontation with Russia, Gates said that the US learned “pretty early on” that as long as the West wasn’t providing weapons systems that could be used to directly attack Russia, “Putin was not going to retaliate.”