Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who served in the Cabinets of both Barack Obama and George W. Bush, admitted in a new interview that former President Donald Trump’s assessment of China was correct.
Conversely, Gates was heavily critical of President Joe Biden’s foreign policy competence.
What did Gates say about Trump?
During a “60 Minutes” interview with Anderson Cooper, Gates explained that he believes China poses the greatest military and economic threat to the U.S. — and that Trump correctly diagnosed the threat.
“I think this is a place where President Trump got it right. He basically awakened Americans — and I would say especially the business community — to a China that the assumptions about which we had gotten wrong,” Gates admitted.
“The assumption for 40 years was that a richer China would be a freer China — and that’s clearly not going to happen,” Gates explained.
“But there’s another piece of this puzzle with China and that is the economic side. Chinese now manage something like three dozen major ports around the world. They are the biggest trading partner of more than half of South America. They are everywhere,” Gates continued. “And what are we doing in these non-military arenas to compete with the Chinese?”
Gates’ remarks are even more significant considering that he detests the former president.
Gates has described Trump as a “thin skinned, temperamental, shoot from the hip and lip, uninformed commander-in-chief.” Gates told Cooper that he would not edit that criticism and expressed hope that Trump does not run for president in 2024.
What about Biden?
In the interview, Gates also reaffirmed criticisms of Biden.
In 2014, Gates said Biden “has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.” Gates told Cooper of Biden, “He opposed every one of Ronald Reagan’s military programs to contest the Soviet Union. He opposed the first Gulf War. That list goes on.”
Gates also said Biden made a “mistake” for how he facilitated the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, which resulted in the Taliban regaining power and a terrorist attack that killed 13 U.S. service members and 169 Afghan civilians.
The former defense secretary, however, conceded that Biden did agree with him on issues relating to Libya, China, and Russia. Gates also praised Biden for his recent submarine deal with Australia, which angered France.