Post-Rumsfeld defense spending

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

SCOTT JAGOW: So Rumsfeld is out. Former CIA Director Robert Gates could be in as the new Defense Secretary. Plus, the Democrats might have both houses of Congress. Big question: How will these changes affect the defense spending? Dimitri Sevastapulo is the Pentagon Correspondent for the Financial Times.

DIMITRI SEVASTAPULO: Well I think initially it's not going to have an immediate effect. You're going to have Bob Gates come in and take over. His immediate priority is going to be to look at the Iraq situation. You have to remember he's a member of the Iraq study group that's looking at proposals to create new policies for Iraq. That said, I think with the shift in Congress you're going to see probably, not a bias towards less defense spending, but maybe a shift in priorities. And I expect to see talk about more money for The Army. So I think you'll see a shift in spending but not necessarily a decline.

JAGOW: So it sounds like you're saying that there won't be a huge confrontation over defense spending between the President and Congress next year.

SEVASTAPULO: I don't think there will be a huge confrontation. As I said I think it will be a question of priorities. There's always a battle between which big-ticket weapon item gets money and which doesn't and whether the money is given to the troops as opposed to this high technology. One thing we can say for sure is that the Democrats have won this victory by successfully convincing the American people they're not weak on national security. I think the last thing that they're going to want to do is turn that around, particularly in the run-up to the 2008 Presidential elections. I think in general the Democrats are not going to want to reduce spending dramatically especially for the next two years and while the U.S. remains in Iraq.

JAGOW: Dimitri Sevastapulo of the Financial Times.

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