'Memoirs of a Secretary at War': Robert M. Gates
exposes Rift Within U.S. Government
Before Robert M. Gates received a call from the White House in 2006, he thought he’d left Washington politics behind: after working for six presidents in both the CIA and the National Security Council, he was happy in his role as president of Texas A&M University. But when he was asked to help a nation mired in two wars and to aid the troops doing the fighting, he answered what he felt was the call of duty. Now, in this unsparing memoir, meticulously fair in its assessments, he takes us behind the scenes of his nearly five years as a secretary at war: the battles with Congress, the two presidents he served, the military itself, and the vast Pentagon bureaucracy; his efforts to help Bush turn the tide in Iraq; his role as a guiding, and often dissenting, voice for Obama; the ardent devotion to and love for American soldiers—his “heroes”—he developed on the job.
In relating his personal journey as secretary, Gates draws us into the innermost sanctums of government and military power during the height of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, illuminating iconic figures, vital negotiations, and critical situations in revealing, intimate detail. Offering unvarnished appraisals of Dick Cheney, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, and Presidents Bush and Obama among other key players, Gates exposes the full spectrum of behind-closed-doors politicking within both the Bush and Obama administrations.
Condemns Obama for not believing in Pentagon Mission and, along with Hillary Clinton, supporting premature withdrawal from Afghanistan for simple political reasons.
Condemns U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden for almost always being on the wrong side of the issues.
Condemns certain other members of the Obama Administration, notably Thomas Donilon and Lt. Gen. Douglas E. Lute:
Biden is accused of “poisoning the well” against the military leadership. Thomas Donilon, initially Obama’s deputy national security adviser, and then-Lt. Gen. Douglas E. Lute, the White House coordinator for the wars, are described as regularly engaged in “aggressive, suspicious, and sometimes condescending and insulting questioning of our military leaders.”
Donilon was born in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of Theresa A. (née Conway) and Edward T. Donilon. His father was of Irish descent, and his maternal grandparents had immigrated from Ireland. He attended La Salle Academy, earned a B.A. at The Catholic University of America in 1977, and a J.D. at the University of Virginia in 1985. He served on the Editorial Board of the Virginia Law Review.
It is rare for a former Cabinet member, let alone a defense secretary occupying a central position in the chain of command, to publish such an antagonistic portrait of a sitting president.
Might this book be the opening up of a crack between legitimate versus Vatican Jesuit government, and the start of a much need intellectual assault upon the popular misconception, sloganeering over independent thought tail wag the dog politics that has so long ill affected Washington, D.C.?