Saying that he wanted to avoid a messy confirmation battle in Senate, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced that he will not recommend General Peter Pace for another two year term as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Gates said of a Pace Senate confirmation hearing, “It would be a backward looking and very contentious process.” Gates also announced that he would recommend Adm. Mike Mullen to replace Pace. He praised Mullen for having, “vision strategic insight and integrity to lead America’s armed forces.” Gates said that it wasn’t the prospect of a tough Senate battle that led him to decide not to nominate Pace for another term. “I am no stranger to contentious confirmations, and I do not shrink from them. However, I have decided that at this moment in our history, the nation, our men and women in uniform and Gen. Pace himself would not be well served by a divisive ordeal. …,”Gates said.

Gates was full of praise for Pace. “He has served our country with great distinction and deserves the deepest thanks of the American people for a lifetime of service to our country and for his leadership. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with him, trust him completely and value his candor and his willingness to speak his mind,” he said. Pace had been vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs for four years prior to his two years as Chairman, so he has been closely involved with the Iraq war. This administration is not one to back down from a fight, unless they know that they can’t win, and I think this is exactly what happened to Pace’s nomination for another term. Gates talked to both Republican and Democratic senators and, even though he didn’t say it, he likely determined that Pace might not be confirmed.

In my opinion, this is another example of how the Democratic control of Congress is forcing the Bush administration to make changes. There can be no doubt that if the GOP was still in control of the Senate, Pace would have been rubber stamped through. From what I have read in the last few years, I get the feeling that the Joint Chiefs were skipped over when it came to decision making for this war. Well, perhaps not skipped over, but certainly not listened to as much as they should have been.

Pace was a good solider for his commander in chief and did his best to toe the administration line, but there were times when he talked about Iraq that he was a little more realistic than the happy go lucky party line that the White House was putting out. In the end, this was probably the best decision for all parties involved. Pace won’t get grilled by the Senate. The Joint Chiefs get a fresh start, and the Democrats can say that they are having an impact on Iraq policy.

Quotes are from this AP article.

Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at  His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at

Jason can also be heard every Sunday afternoon at 1:30 pm (ET) as the host of The Political Universe Radio Show at  blog radio  


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