Last week, while I was busy writing about two fascinating scenarios for the future of U.S. influence, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was delivering the latest in a long line of brilliant speeches, this time in Chicago. In it, he nailed down exactly the kinds of concrete changes that must happen in order to retool the institutions of American foreign policy for the radical challenges of the next two decades.
The speech underscored that, even as Gates emerged victorious this week from a Washington budget battle, there's a more massive challenge looming.
At first glance, the battle in Washington was over whether or not the military should order more F-22 Raptor fighter jets. At more than $350 million each, 187 have already been budgeted, and a row erupted over how many more, if any, the country actually needs. Gates said none. President Obama backed him, declaring in a memo sent to the Senate Armed Services Committee, "I will veto any bill that supports acquisition of F-22s beyond the 187 already funded by Congress,"