US Elections 2016

Ex-Pentagon chief says Trump unfit to be president

WASHINGTON • Former US defence secretary Robert Gates issued a sharp critique of both presidential candidates in The Wall Street Journal, but blasted Mr Donald Trump as being "unqualified and unfit to be commander- in-chief".

Mr Gates - a Republican who was Pentagon chief under Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Barack Obama - has worked with eight presidents and is among the most widely respected US voices on national security matters.

"I believe Mr Trump is beyond repair. He is stubbornly uninformed... and temperamentally unsuited to lead our men and women in uniform," Mr Gates wrote in an op-ed piece posted late last Friday on the Journal's website. "He is unqualified and unfit to be commander-in-chief."

Mr Gates worked closely with Mrs Hillary Clinton when she was secretary of state. A former Central Intelligence Agency director, he said Mrs Clinton's failure to predict the chaos that would follow Western intervention in Libya raised credibility questions, as had her shifting position on the Iraq war.

He assailed her opposition to a pending Asian trade agreement that she once supported, said she had been vague on dealing with President Vladimir Putin's Russia, that she offered few specifics about North Korea, and had no clear strategy towards "a Middle East in flames".

But on credibility, he added: "Trump is in a league of his own."

'BEYOND REPAIR'

I believe Mr Trump is beyond repair. He is stubbornly uninformed... and temperamentally unsuited to lead our men and women in uniform. He is unqualified and unfit to be commander-in-chief.

FORMER U.S. DEFENCE SECRETARY ROBERT GATES, in an op-ed piece posted on The Wall Street Journal's website.

"He has expressed support for building a wall between the US and Mexico; for torturing suspected terrorists and killing their families (and) for Mr Putin's dictatorial leadership." Mr Trump had also expressed support "for withdrawing US troops from Europe, South Korea and Japan", while being "cavalier about the use of nuclear weapons". He had insulted servicemen, their families and military leaders, Mr Gates wrote.

Trump is "wilfully ignorant" about the world, the US military and "about government itself", Mr Gates said. While not saying he would vote for Mrs Clinton, Mr Gates said he would be listening for reassurances from her ahead of the Nov 8 election.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 19, 2016, with the headline 'Ex-Pentagon chief says Trump unfit to be president'. Print Edition | Subscribe