Bob Gates is such a decent and dedicated patriotic American, there might be a situation where he continues to serve. I don't think that's unrealistic. If he finally [steps down], I think [President Obama has] some very good candidates. Michèle Flournoy, who is the second-ranking DOD [official] — very talented. You've got John Hamre, a former number two in the Clinton Administration, now head of the [Center for Strategic and International Studies] — thoughtful, knows the Pentagon very well. The president could reach out to Chuck Hagel, my colleague and friend.

ARE YOU TROUBLED BY REPORTS OF STRONG PUBLIC SUPPORT IN PAKISTAN FOR THE MAN ACCUSED OF ASSASSINATING THE LIBERAL, REFORMIST GOVERNOR OF PUNJAB? AND DO YOU THINK PAKISTAN CAN EVER BE A REAL PARTNER IN THE FIGHT AGAINST TERROR? Very worrisome, because [support for the assassin] seems to be coming from the young lawyers of Pakistan, [who] we assumed were the most secular, cosmopolitan group in the country — and really what we had presumed to be the foundation of a secular, civic society. It goes to the deeper issue of Pakistan. That is the decisive arena in terms of our engagement in the area.

I think one point has to be made — and I made this point directly to the vice president who is traveling to Afghanistan — that we really do have to get a credible, three-way diplomatic effort between Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. Much of the strategic rationale with Pakistan is directly related to India. And if we're not making progress on that front, then they're not going to be helpful to us. [Diplomat Richard] Holbrooke served with great distinction, literally gave his life for [his] country. But now the opportunity is to get another person who will have a mission to really go into the region — to Delhi, Islamabad, and Kabul — back and forth, back and forth, trying to engender this kind of three-way discussion longer term.

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