June 1, 2011
Emerson Brown, NPR




In one of his first extended broadcast interviews before stepping down, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates speaks with NPR senior host Robert Siegel in a two-part interview airing today and tomorrow, June 1 and 2, on the afternoon newsmagazine All Things Considered. Gates reflects on many aspects of his nearly 40- year career shaping U.S. policy, including his legacy in Iraq, negotiating with the Taliban in Afghanistan and challenges that lay ahead for his successor. The interview will air on NPR member stations (check npr.org/stations for local broadcast times). More details and an audio excerpt are available now at NPR News blog "The Two-Way" and the full interview will be archived at npr.org

When asked about his legacy in Iraq, Gates says: "I think that the origins of the war will always remain controversial, but given where we were when I came to the job at the end of 2006, we have been successful. Id even say weve been victorious in helping the Iraqis establish a democracy. It's messy, but ironically it's something of a model for what is going on across the region now. Who would have dreamed in 2006 that Iraq would have been more advanced than any of the other Arab countries in building a democratic state?"

Asked about negotiating with the Taliban in Afghanistan, Gates says: "The way these conflicts come to an end is that peace is made between people who have been killing each other and clearly the Taliban are a part of the political fabric in Afghanistan at this point. And if they're willing to follow the rules, if they're willing to put down their weapons, if they're willing to abandon al Qaeda, if they're willing to live under the Afghan constitution, then I think there's a strong basis for them to re-enter the political process."

On advice for current CIA chief Leon Panetta, his likely successor, Gates says: "I had lunch with Leon earlier this week and I said, you need to have a sense of scale Leon. You supervise, lead 15, 20,000 whatever out at CIA. There's three million people that will work for you in the Department of Defense. And he commented that we clearly spend a lot more on healthcare than his entire budget. So there is very little that can actually prepare you for leading the Department of Defense because there is nothing comparable in the world."

All excerpts from the interview must be credited to "NPR's All Things Considered." Broadcast outlets may use up to sixty (60) consecutive seconds of audio from the interview. Television usage must include on-screen chyron to "NPR's All Things Considered" with NPR logo.

All Things Considered, NPR's signature afternoon newsmagazine, is hosted by Melissa Block, Michele Norris and Robert Siegel and reaches more than 12 million listeners weekly. To find local stations and broadcast times for the program, visit www.npr.org/stations