Meet the Press   |  January 19, 2014

Gates Forecasts Future of Afghanistan, Iraq

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates clarifies remarks made in his recent memoir about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> a couple of quick ones i've been saying all morning i wanted to ask you about the future of war. here is what you said back in 2011 at west point. in my opinion, any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big american land army into asia or into the middle east or africa should have his head examined as general mcarthur so delicately put it. does that mean to say that you think iraq and afghanistan will never truly be won, will never be seen as a victory?

>> i think that one of the other things that i write in the book is that if you look back to the korean war , there are very few instances where we have been militarily engaged in a major conflict where we have come out with what we saw as a victory as clear-cut as in world war ii or in the first gulf war in 1991 . whether it was korea or vietnam or iraq or afghanistan , there is not a conclusion to these conflicts that end in a victory parade . and the other aspect of in that i think is important as we look at the future of war is that as i put in the book and as i said often as the secretary of defense, in the last 40 years, our record in predicting where we would use military force next even six months out is perfect. we've never once gotten it right. from grenada under president reagan to haiti, panama, the balkans, against iraq twice, afghanistan -- libya twice, you name it, we didn't know six months ahead we were going to be in those places in those kinds of conflicts.

>> this is "meet the press." i think a lot. about politics. and you write about hillary clinton quite favorably, her pragmatism, her judgment. you were often in agreement with her on national security matters. you have said in other interviews you think she would be a good president. you are a republican. could you imagine voting for her?

>> well, i -- i think where i am now is that i think, it's clear in the book that i have a lot of admiration for hillary. i don't think that having a republican, that the democrats welcome having a republican handicap their 2016 race.

>> but you're not going to get off that easy. you can still vote for her and not handicap her. you don't want to answer that.

>> i'm going to be evasive.

>> but you do think she would be a good president?

>> i think -- i worked with her in the national security account arena for two and a half years. i have a lot of respect for what she did. and the way she conducted herself as secretary.

>> i think that's about as good as i'm going to get. mr. secretary, thanks so