Robert Gates

The Reid Doth Protest Too Much

By on 1.28.14 | 11:23AM

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is a gossip hound, and a champion in the fight against Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Shambling through the Senate halls, he’s been lampooned by the comedy group The Capitol Steps as the Senate’s “most charismatic” legislator. But last week he let loose on former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who, in his book Duty, painted an interesting picture of the Nevada senator. “Why in the world would a guy violate a confidence like this?” moaned Reid, according to the Daily Beast.

“I’m surprised he would in effect denigrate everybody he came in contact with in an effort to make a buck,” said Reid of his portrayal Gates’s book, apparently forgetting that C-Span cameras are rolling every time he speaks on the Senate floor. Doesn’t Reid realize that a cursory glance at the Congressional Record will reveal his long career of denigrating his colleagues, such as just last year when he accused many of them of being anarchists?

Robert Gates Speaks Out

By 1.14.14

Retired Defense Secretary Robert Gates breezed back onto the national scene last week by speaking his mind. Oh, and did he speak it — loudly enough, robustly enough to remind all within earshot what it means to hear an honest man seek to serve the truth.

I said “seek” to serve. Did he actually serve, and how would we know for sure? With any of Gates’ memorable judgments, ladled out in a memoir called Duty, we are entitled constitutionally to differ. Is President Obama, as Gates avers, skeptical of his own Afghanistan policy? Are the majority of representatives in Congress “uncivil, incompetent at fulfilling their basic constitutional responsibilities (such as timely appropriations), micromanagerial, parochial, hypocritical, egotistical, thin-skinned and prone to put self (and re-election) before country?” Has Vice President Joe Biden “been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades”? Do foreign policy calculations spring as often as not these days from domestic political reasonings?

Robert Gates Pulls No Punches

By on 1.8.14 | 11:23AM

Last night, I thought perhaps we were making too much of former defense secretary Robert Gates’s criticisms of the Obama administration. Today, after reading the adaptation of his book published in the Wall Street Journal, I’ve changed my mind. The essay, fittingly titled “The Quiet Fury of Robert Gates,” scorches nearly everything in Washington, with particular fire reserved for the Obama administration.

On Obama and Afghanistan:

I witnessed a good deal of wishful thinking in the Obama administration about how much improvement we might see with enough dialogue with Pakistan and enough civilian assistance to the Afghan government and people. When real improvements in those areas failed to materialize, too many people—especially in the White House—concluded that the president's entire strategy, including the military component, was a failure and became eager to reverse course.

On Obama in comparison to Bush:

The Return of the “Next War-itis”

By on 12.12.13 | 6:16PM

Former defense secretary Robert Gates is not memorable for much, but his condemnation of “next war-itis” is worth remembering—but only because of its unfortunate revival by Washington Post writer Tom Ricks.

In a 2008 speech, Gates said, “I have noticed too much of a tendency towards what might be called Next-War-itis — the propensity of much of the defense establishment to be in favor of what might be needed in a future conflict," Gates said. And in a world of limited resources, he continued, the Pentagon must concentrate on building a military that can defeat the current enemies: smaller terrorist groups and militias waging irregular warfare.

That is so wrong on so many levels—e.g., it assumes we’ll never have to fight another conventional war—it’s hard to believe it ever came out of a defense secretary. (A former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs once told me in confidence that when Gates said it, he shook his head in disbelief.)