By Rebecca Kheel - 01/19/16 12:49 PM EST
Carpet bombing the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), as Republican presidential candidate Ted CruzTed CruzThe Trail 2016: Fight night Google backs Obama's internet transition plan Steve King asks: Will Clinton be ‘on her meds or off her meds’ for debate? MORE has suggested, would be useless, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Tuesday.
“Carpet bombing would be completely useless,” Gates said in an interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “It’s totally contrary to the American way of war, total disregard for civilians. Part of the concern that I have with the campaign, particularly when it comes to national security, is that the solutions being offered are so simplistic and so at odds with the reality of the rest of the world.”
Asked about the most admirable qualities of President Obama and former presidents George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush, for whom Gates served as deputy national security advisor and CIA director, Gates highlighted Obama’s willingness to make tough decisions, W. Bush’s courage and H.W. Bush’s ability to unite people.
“I don’t see any” candidates who have those qualities, he said.
Gates also knocked Obama for centralizing power in the White House, which Gates called “unparalleled.” He cited the size of the National Security Council, at 450 staff members, as an example.
The problem, Gates said, is nobody in the administration is pushing back against the president.
“I will give him credit; I pushed back on him a lot,” Gates said. “And he never shut me down. He never told me to be quite or refused to see me or anything like that. But I don’t see people around him like that now.”
To tackle the national security issues facing the country, Gates said, the next president should surround him or herself with good advisors.
“One of the questions that nobody has asked any of the candidates in this election cycle is, ‘Who are the kinds of people you would appoint?’ ” he said. “'Who are the kinds of people you would look to for advice and for guidance?’ ”