But the author is mild-mannered Robert Gates, which is a bit of a surprise. His book, Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War, will be released within a week, and Gates – who loyally served as secretary of defense for both Republican Bush 43 and Democrat Obama – doesn’t pull any punches about some of the strategic decisions made by key figures over the last decade.
The former SecDef and CIA director played the part of the loyal lieutenant quite well and he never called attention to himself unless it served a good purpose. At the same time, he was unafraid to hold his top service secretaries and flag officers accountable, ranging from the Walter Reed patient scandal to the Air Force lost nukes snafu. More often than not, he appointed the right guys, made sure we bought the right stuff (Como se dice MRAP in Arabic?) and asked the right questions. Not bad for a career bureaucrat.
Gates was politically savvy, but a purposeful professional. I thought he’d ride off into retirement quietly. I guess not.
And some memorable excerpts here, courtesy of Ted Turner. Obama acolytes will love the part about Bush 43 and Obama having “more in common than I expected … (and that wasn’t always good).”
Gates apparently had some major policy disagreements with Obama that left him seething, particularly on the Afghanistan troop surge, and disdained the unapologetic political calculus that apparently drove President Obama and Hillary Clinton’s perspectives on national security.
I wonder why Gates didn’t simply resign in protest? Is it not our duty to do so, if we don’t believe in what we’re doing and can’t change course?
I have no answers, but Truman has a song for Bob…