Duty by Robert Gates

A book I’ll definitely be buying is Duty by Robert Gates. Gates was rated by the Washington Post as the best Defence Secretary since WWII, and had served numerous Presidents (he is a Republican) over the decades. Some of his roles include:

  • CIA staffer in Nixon presidency
  • NSC staffer in Ford presidency
  • senior CIA director in Carter presidency
  • DDI and DDCI in Reagan presidency
  • Deputy NSA in Bush 41 presidency
  • CIA Director in Bush 41 presidency
  • Secretary of Defence in Bush 43 presidency
  • Secretary of Defence in Obama presidency

The Wall Street Journal has the top 10 excerpts from his memoirs. They include:

  • Mr. Gates expresses open disdain for Congress and the way lawmakers treated him when he testified at hearings. “I saw most of Congress as 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.”
  • Mr. Gates expresses particular dissatisfaction with Vice President Joe Biden. He describes Mr. Biden as a “man of integrity” who “has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.”
  • Mr. Gates writes. “His [Obama] White House was by far the most centralized and controlling in national security of any I had seen since Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger ruled the roost” in the 1970s.
  • “The controlling nature of the Obama White House, and its determination to take credit for every good thing that happened while giving none to the career folks in the trenches who had actually done the work, offended Secretary Clinton as much as it did me,” Mr Gates writes. In one meeting, Mr. Gates says that he challenged Mr. Biden and Thomas Donilon, then Mr. Obama’s deputy national security adviser, when they tried to pass orders to him on behalf of the president. “The last time I checked, neither of you are in the chain of command,” Mr. Gates says he told the two men.

A good analysis of the book is from John Dickerson at Slate.

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