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The Quiet Fury of Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates 341

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from the a-bit-blunt dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Activities, technologies, equipment, or other matters regarding the U.S. Department of Defense are a common topic on Slashdot, both as stories and in discussions. Despite that, we seldom see stories regarding the senior leadership of DoD as we do for technologists, the political branches, and lately the NSA. Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who served under both Presidents Bush and Obama, has released a rather biting memoir of his tenure as the Secretary of Defense. The Wall Street Journal has an excerpt: '... despite everyone being "nice" to me, getting anything consequential done was so damnably difficult — even in the midst of two wars. I did not just have to wage war in Afghanistan and Iraq and against al Qaeda; I also had to battle the bureaucratic inertia of the Pentagon, surmount internal conflicts within both administrations, avoid the partisan abyss in Congress, evade the single-minded parochial self-interest of so many members of Congress and resist the magnetic pull exercised by the White House, especially in the Obama administration, to bring everything under its control and micromanagement. Over time, the broad dysfunction of today's Washington wore me down, especially as I tried to maintain a public posture of nonpartisan calm, reason and conciliation. ... difficulties within the executive branch were nothing compared with the pain of dealing with Congress. ... 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.' — More at The Washington Post."
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The Quiet Fury of Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates

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  • in other words... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zzottt (629458) on Wednesday January 08, 2014 @01:09PM (#45898907) Journal
    Nothing surprising.. basically he is just telling us what we already know about US politics in the modern age.
    • by MightyMartian (840721) on Wednesday January 08, 2014 @01:17PM (#45898991) Journal

      Still, he has a rather unique perspective, having been a senior member of both a Republican and a Democrat administration. I'm pretty keen to see his observations

      • Re:in other words... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by ackthpt (218170) on Wednesday January 08, 2014 @02:59PM (#45900251) Homepage Journal

        Still, he has a rather unique perspective, having been a senior member of both a Republican and a Democrat administration. I'm pretty keen to see his observations

        Pretty much what Colin Powell went through, though he internalized more of the stresses and didn't feel the need to dump on everyone. I don't disagree with Gates, I think a lot of these people (particularly Congress) need some dumping on. Congress members will feel affronted for a few days and then go back to being arseholes.

        • by MightyMartian (840721) on Wednesday January 08, 2014 @03:10PM (#45900373) Journal

          One would hope that the point of Gates' recounting of his problems with two Administrations and Congress is to tell the electorate "You elect the President and Congress, and this is how annoying, counterproductive and pig headed all these people are."

          • I read his point as being that democracy is messy and inefficient and his job as a warlord would be a lot easier if everyone would just sit down, shut up and do as they were told. He is exactly the kind of person you should worry about. Personally I don't care if the trains run on time if I have to give up my political voice in trade. Civilian rule is better then the alternative. So how about we let you play with your tanks and you let the inefficient electorate set the political goals. Grow up and deal
        • Members of Parliament are arseholes.

          Congress members are assholes.

      • Gates is a conservative Republican.

        I found his criticism to be mellodramatic and uneven.

        One time Obama is a 'micromanager' and the next he's 'out of touch'

        What galls me most is that he criticized the Obama admin. for questioning his generals hard and not accepting their pat answers. Like we're supposed to feel bad when a General in charge of a war gets his feelings hurt?

        I *expect* strict oversight of the men making the direct decisions about wars, especially the double-boondoggles of Iraq and Afghanistan that Obama was given.

        In the case of General Petraus, he damn well needed to be questioned, disrespectfully even, because of this whole mess: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petraeus_scandal [wikipedia.org]

        Where was Gates's keen eye there? Did he admit *any* actual mistakes?

        • by ultranova (717540) on Wednesday January 08, 2014 @04:33PM (#45901073)

          One time Obama is a 'micromanager' and the next he's 'out of touch'

          Are you implying that these qualities can't exist in the same person at the same time? Because I assure you, they can and often do. Heck, if anything being an idiot and wanting to control everything are the most stereotypical politician traits imaginable.

  • the system is not perfect, but it would be a lot worse if we allowed one person to have to much power and make too many decisions without input from stakeholders

  • waah waah waah (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cellocgw (617879) <cellocgw@NOsPAm.gmail.com> on Wednesday January 08, 2014 @01:12PM (#45898945) Journal

    He knew what it was like long before he got that post. What was he expecting, a sudden influx of invisible pink unicorn poop?

    • Re:waah waah waah (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anubis IV (1279820) on Wednesday January 08, 2014 @01:52PM (#45899461)

      What was he expecting, a sudden influx of invisible pink unicorn poop?

      Probably not, but that doesn't mean that there isn't a problem or that it's unreasonable of him to point it out.

      This is a guy who managed to get himself appointed as director of the CIA a number of years back, so he's familiar with the culture of Washington and how the political game is played there. He served as the president of a major university (my alma mater, and while I was there, in fact, during which time he was VERY highly regarded by both the students and faculty...I've heard a number of firsthand accounts from other students who had personal interactions with him that were beyond the call of Gates' duty, and some of which would have put a significant drain on him and his time), which means dealing with legislators, boards of regents, and all sorts of other bureaucracy. This is also the guy who was asked to become the first Director of National Intelligence (a.k.a. Intelligence Czar) by Bush, but declined the offer for the position so that he could continue where he was (the position later went to John Negroponte).

      More or less, he knows what politics look like and knows enough to survive them for several decades while still getting the stuff done that needs to be done, and yet, despite that, he thinks that the stuff he's seen in these last two administrations is dysfunctional enough that it's worth calling out specifically. Wouldn't you agree that that's a fair assessment of the current state of American politics? There's a reason that polls indicate over half of Americans are in favor of firing EVERYONE in Congress.

      Kudos to him for calling them out. Shame on you for crapping all over someone who is publicly pointing out the sad state of affairs.

      • by imikem (767509)

        Too bad those >50% don't actually bother to vote "EVERYONE" out of Congress.

        • That's because, sadly, too many people fall for the "I might be bad, but that person's worse" fallacy. They think not voting for the major party that claims to best represent their views is essentially voting for the major party that doesn't claim to best represent their views. Since (once you buy into this fallacy) having "That Guy" in office seems so horrible, voting for "This Guy" is all but ensured. Add in campaigns geared to demonize "That Guy" and gerrymandering designed by the winning party design

        • Not going to hear any disagreement from me. Really though, there's no way to do it without changing the laws, since it would require barring any incumbents from running again. Allowing them to run again and simply voting them all out (which would result in a shift in power to what used to be the minority party) is quite a bit different than barring them from running and having an election between two fresh candidates.

        • Re:waah waah waah (Score:5, Interesting)

          by TheloniousToady (3343045) on Wednesday January 08, 2014 @02:44PM (#45900107)

          I'm with ya, bro. Now that America has revert to a single political party - the Incumbents - I plan to vote against every member of that party in the next election, be they nominally Republicans, Democrats, or anything else. (That last part was just for completeness - more of theoretical possibility than anything. Luckily, Ralph Nader never joined the Incumbent Party.)

      • I allowed half of my mod points to expire. I wish I still had a +1 insightful for your post.

    • Re:waah waah waah (Score:5, Interesting)

      by interkin3tic (1469267) on Wednesday January 08, 2014 @02:00PM (#45899567)
      You're shooting the messenger. The point is not "feel bad for me," the point is "Your government sucks. They're not making you secure or being strong on defense, which is why a lot of you voted for them in the first place. They're making you less secure. Vote for less blowhards."

      Not sure his message is going to get anywhere, seems to me that most voters know how bad politics in Washington are, they just think that THEIR incumbent who they voted for is one of the good guys.
  • by i kan reed (749298) on Wednesday January 08, 2014 @01:13PM (#45898953) Homepage Journal

    I have a hard time taking what I've read of the criticism online already seriously. Is it really so damning the Obama didn't consider Afganistan "his war", and "wanted to get out"? Or be "skeptical" of the plans put in place by the military leadership?

    I mean it sounds like what we heard in the 2000s from the bush administration where enough patriotism and "believing in the troops" was what it took to make a war work. Expecting that from the common person is annoying and immature, but expecting it from the president sounds extraordinarily naive.

    • by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Wednesday January 08, 2014 @01:30PM (#45899147)

      >> Is it really so damning the Obama didn't consider Afganistan "his war"

      I think it is, for a different reason. A lot of folks elected Obama to get us out our middle eastern wars as fast as possible. The fact that Obama's been dragging his feet on that front, even starting new wars (e.g., Libya), suggests (reaffirms?) that Obama has been a spineless president, bullied into more military action by his military advisers, Gates included.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        People elected Obama to get us out of the wars, but it was clear from his campaign statements in 2007 that he would pull out from Iraq and escalate in Afghanistan. Remember at the time Afganiatan was still the "good" war that Nush had abandoned for his Iraq folly. I recall informing my Obama-voting friends of this at the time (with references) but they were too ecstatic about winning to let anything mess up the internal narrative.

      • by i kan reed (749298) on Wednesday January 08, 2014 @01:42PM (#45899311) Homepage Journal

        Well, I can't speak to what people perceived when they voted for Obama in 2008, but I at least recall the content of the McCain Obama debates well enough to remember his general military foreign policy positions at the time:
        A. Increased use of targeted drone warfare(promise too well kept, good god)
        B. Out of Iraq(yeah, sorta)
        C. Refocus Afganistan to be about Al Qaeda(kinda bogus, because "focusing" wars is political BS)

        • C. Refocus Afganistan to be about Al Qaeda(kinda bogus, because "focusing" wars is political BS)

          Especially since it's been focused on the Taliban as far as I can tell, the whole time

    • by DarkOx (621550)

      Is it really so damning the Obama didn't consider Afganistan "his war", and "wanted to get out"?

      Yes yes its damning. Obama ran on getting us out of Iraq but he never really ran against the Afghanistan effort. If he really wanted out and though that continuing the war was a bad idea he should have had the courage to end it. He should have order the general to being an orderly retreat with the single objective of getting as many of ours home as quickly and safely as possible. No more traning native forces, no more pacifying Helmont (sp?) nothing.

      I can't think of much worse in the way of moral deprav

      • Seriously if he really felt that we he should have run on "if elected, I will withdraw our forces for Afghanistan" and let the people decide.

        But he didn't, and at first left it to military leaders, who he came to doubt. That's exactly the narrative Gates provided here. He should have run on it in 2012, but didn't, because foreign policy apparently stops mattering the moment someone is concerned about the debt.

    • by phantomfive (622387) on Wednesday January 08, 2014 @01:57PM (#45899509) Journal

      Is it really so damning the Obama didn't consider Afganistan "his war", and "wanted to get out"?

      His implication is that Obama should have either committed to winning the war, and won it; or given up directly and saved lives. Instead (according to Gates), he waged the war half-heartedly, which didn't resolve anything. Choose a course of action and do what it takes to accomplish it, that's what Gates feels Obama didn't do.

      Or be "skeptical" of the plans put in place by the military leadership?

      This is an attack on the competency of Obama, saying he didn't have the skills to assess the plans. It's one thing to be skeptical if you have a reason, it's another to be skeptical for no reason. A comparison here is being skeptical of evolution: it's generally a sign of ignorance, but an expert with knowledge might be skeptical of the idea that humans descended from reptiles, or other similar.

      These are the interpretations of those statements from Gates; whether they are justified or not, I don't know.

      • Which I guess is fine. It's just kind of obnoxious to put things down to 1 dimension like that. There were clearly unresolved core goals in Afghanistan when Obama entered office(like al qeada's leadership structure, which proved to be in Pakistan). Are there still now?

        • There were clearly unresolved core goals in Afghanistan when Obama entered office(like al qeada's leadership structure, which proved to be in Pakistan). Are there still now?

          Ultimately, the question is, what goal do we have in Afghanistan? Is our goal to make sure they have a (relatively) stable society when we leave? Is our goal to get out as quickly as possible? I'm not really sure the answer to this question, but it's kind of crucial to answer it. As commander in chief, it is probably Obama's job to answer it.

    • ....an intelligent comment (i kan reed) at /. ! ! ! Thank you.
  • Welcome to life bro (Score:5, Interesting)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Wednesday January 08, 2014 @01:14PM (#45898961) Journal
    This is the problem of everyone who tries to work with other people, it's something you see at every job where your interests are not aligned perfectly with everyone else's. If you think that's bad, try dealing with an HOA.
  • Frustrating... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Wednesday January 08, 2014 @01:14PM (#45898963)
    The most frustrating part of this to me is that people die - both combatants and not - as a consequence of decisions made by these clowns.
  • SNAFU = " "Situation Normal: All Fucked Up".

    Anyone who expects to gain pleasure or be appreciated for serving in our political system is making a big mistake.

  • Washington is a bunch of Type-A, borderline personality disorder sociopaths, as that's what it generally takes in order to claw one's way up to that level. Arguably that pressure-cooker is present in any group of political elite, from the Politburo to the King's Court.

    This whining reminds me a bit of a civilian telecom contractor that went to Iraq to serve military needs, that complained that when some soldiers offered to give him some rudimentary weapons training on the range if he could get the ammo,
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by timeOday (582209)

      Arguably that pressure-cooker is present in any group of political elite, from the Politburo to the King's Court.

      Are you intentionally limiting this to politics for some reason? I wonder what Larry Ellison and Donald Trump have to pay their secretaries to put up with them. The fact that we have any separation of power at all between the economic, political, and religious realms is a relatively recent and welcome innovation IMHO. The natural state of humanity is a bunch of slaves under a hierarchy of m

  • I've never been the one to raise the "How is this News for Nerds?" cry. In fact, I'm often the one trying to explain how it could interest a nerd. But I'm really at a loss here. The lampshade [tvtropes.org] hung over the first two sentences didn't help.
  • I know, everyone is thinking term limits will solve the problem. I think that's backwards: with term limits, you have a perpetual stream of newcomers coming into congress who haven't a clue what is going on but who are determined to "fix things". With short terms, you have congress critters spending an inordinate amount of their time, attention and money on getting reelected, and making political and strategic choices for the country with reelection as the goal rather than making the country better.

    We ca
    • Maybe slightly longer terms but limited to one. That's long been suggested for president.

      Newcomers determined to fix things are better then old timers determined to protect their turf.

    • by DaHat (247651)

      you have a perpetual stream of newcomers coming into congress who haven't a clue what is going on but who are determined to "fix things".

      You really need to look into the re-election rate of incumbents.

      Yes, there is a trickle of new-comers... but the bulk of them remain unchanged year-to-year.

      • ou have a perpetual stream of newcomers coming into congress who haven't a clue what is going on but who are determined to "fix things".

        You really need to look into the re-election rate of incumbents.

        Yes, there is a trickle of new-comers... but the bulk of them remain unchanged year-to-year.

        You should have included the whole sentence you quoted, rather than just the part that reversed the meaning.

        Here's the original sentence:

        I think that's backwards: with term limits, you have a perpetual stream of

      • And how many of those incumbents who come back year after year do so thanks to using gerrymandering to redraw district lines to eliminate any chance that they could lose an election?

    • You solution would just result in unsuitable people being there longer. The real solution is to make their job much less important. To re-distribute those powers that congress has amassed and push them back out to the states. Let the states be responsible for their own roads and bridges. Let the states be responsible for their own housing and medical/health. They could do it better...if they were collecting the majority of the tax revenue instead of the Federal government.
      The problem with congress

      • by Fesh (112953)

        Living in Alabama, I have to wonder if some states have the maturity to be responsible for their own governance... I'm convinced that the only reason we have Interstates is that the Feds paid for all of it. And I say that as a believer in States' Rights... I just don't know how to let states have completely free rein and still have a decently uniform standard of living across the nation. Heck, we don't even have a uniform standard of living now...

        • And anyone would look a little groggy and unsteady on their feet when they are being bled dry. There was a report I read recently that the Pentagon could not account for a trillion dollars missing. The system is upside down. The people with the most power should live locally and be elected locally. The way it stands, the people with the most power will never come up for election in your state.

          • by Fesh (112953)

            The system is upside down. The people with the most power should live locally and be elected locally.

            Couldn't agree with you more on that one. One of the reasons I'm such a big fan of Distributism [wikipedia.org].

    • The experience in California is that term limits don't work. What happens is the staff become more important, more powerful and more entrenched. And they aren't elected, even once.

  • sure, you have politics in the military industrial complex that is the pentagon. its how the mess hall gets halliburton contractors and your usual patrols are augmented by blackwater; its not going anywhere. but the tits-up congress is actually a pretty recent concoction.

    in the face of a progressive president who shows signs of championing some popular reforms like wealth equality, immigration and healthcare, i'd say turning congress into a total clusterfuck with the addition of some well funded tea-ba
    • by Virtucon (127420)

      If the bus is going in the wrong direction, slash the tires and damn the consequences i say.

      Can't we just burn the bus down? That way we can be sure the bus never goes that way again.

  • by folderol (1965326) on Wednesday January 08, 2014 @01:27PM (#45899119) Homepage
    This is actually quite interesting. We have now moved from 'everyone knows' to someone has actually spelled it out.

    There are a lot of ordinarly people out there who are not in the 'everyone' category and may now become aware of this.
    • It's been spelled out for at least 10 years. My problem with Congress is how a lot of members are making decisions with bad information; not that a Congressman might be self-serving.

  • by EMG at MU (1194965) on Wednesday January 08, 2014 @01:32PM (#45899179)

    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.

    He never said any of this publicly while holding his position because he didn't want to lose his job. I feel that most politicians and cabinet appointees feel this way, but they always hold it all in until they leave office and are ready to author their "tell all" memoir. Maybe if someone actually spoke the truth while in office the problems plaguing our government would have a better chance of being addressed.

    Of course since they are all "prone to put self (and re-election) before country" they would never dare to challenge the party line. Robert Gates included.

    • Losing his job is one thing, losing what little cooperation he was getting is another thing entirely. Let's assume for the moment that the man isn't a psychopath (the only reason we have to assume otherwise is that he managed to reach the political position he did, which I don't think is enough to blindly warrant the assumption). The life and limb of the people under his command depend upon cooperation from the very people he would like to publicly name and shame. Regardless of how satisfying it might ha

    • by SirGarlon (845873) on Wednesday January 08, 2014 @03:32PM (#45900539)

      He never said any of this publicly while holding his position because he didn't want to lose his job.

      I feel the need to come to Mr. Gates' defense here. Let's put his situation in context: the Secretary of Defense is directly responsible for hundreds of thousands of human lives. Gates' predecessor, Donald Rumsfeld, had fucked up so egregiously that the United States was on the verge of losing the war in Iraq, and had already wasted thousands of American lives and tens of thousands of Iraqi civilian lives through his arrogant blundering.

      Somebody had to clean up that mess and make the best of the situation. Gates was the one President Bush picked. If you were in that situation, with hundreds of thousands of lives hanging in the balance and no option that could create peace quickly or with certainty, the future of two countries at stake, wouldn't the responsibility of your position weigh just a teensy bit more heavily on you than where your next paycheck was coming from?

      I am not sure I would have the balls to take that job, even if I were competent to do it. Staying on as president of Texas A&M sounds like a much easier career option.

      I submit to you that Gates may have wanted to keep his job, not out of pure self-interest, but because he had accepted the duty and felt obligated to see it through.

  • I did not just have to wage war in Afghanistan and Iraq and against al Qaeda; I also had to battle the bureaucratic

    An article about commanders fighting each other about plans and egos, it mentioned during WWII Gen. Marshall arrives at his office early in morning. During the day he has to fight the British, fight the Soviets, fight the French, fight the Belguims, fight the Dutch, fight the Aussies, fight the Canadians,. Then late at night when Marshall returns home, his wife reminds him that he needs to fight the Germans.

  • by locust (6639) on Wednesday January 08, 2014 @01:40PM (#45899291)

    Its news that human beings are self interested, ignorant, and vain? How did this ingenue become secretary of defense?

    Here's a news flash for Bob Gates: People in Washington, running the gov. are no better/worse than the general populace. People don't suddenly become 'better' because they get elected to office, or go work for a congressman, or the white house. When you take the job of Secretary of Defense, you get paid for three things:
    1. Up holding your duty to the constitution
    2. Setting an example for your subordinates
    3. Navigating the politics of government

    If you don't want to compromise yourself, these things are all thankless arduous tasks. They wear you out. It goes with the territory. Cry me a river Bob Gates.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      Here's a news flash for Bob Gates: People in Washington, running the gov. are no better/worse than the general populace.

      They are worse for two reasons. First, because the type of power hungry person who wants elected office is worse than someone content to mind his own business. And second, because the actual process of becoming elected selects for those who have no principles.

  • As a US citizen Mr. Gates is free to speak his mind as dictated by the US Constitution and Bill of Rights. He can also now expect to come under "friendly fire" as the political wheels churn but he knew that before writing the book. I see this is a useful debate as candidates are vetted for the coming elections. He may have his biases but as an longtime insider I'd like to hear what he has to say.
  • I don't work for the DoD... But it sometimes sure feels like it.
  • This is why... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by erp_consultant (2614861) on Wednesday January 08, 2014 @01:48PM (#45899409)
    we can't get competent people to run for public office in this country. Over the years I have worked many times with local, state and federal government agencies. Almost universally, the experience Gates had has mirrored my own. Incompetent management, grandstanding, petty interdepartmental feuds, smothering regulations and endless meetings. If I could sum up the entire experience in a single word it would be this: frustration. Is it any wonder that we can't get talented people to run for public office? High achievers are used to getting things done. Some of them come to Washington thinking that they can cut through the rubbish that slows everyone else down. Good luck with that. I'm sure that many in the press will paint Gates as some sort of grumpy malcontent. But he's actually doing us a favor.
    • Re:This is why... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anubis IV (1279820) on Wednesday January 08, 2014 @02:28PM (#45899897)

      Gates used to be the President of Texas A&M University. I was a student when he took up the position, and I was still one when he resigned his position to become the Secretary of Defense (after having previously turned down the then-new position of Director of National Intelligence, a.k.a. Intelligence Czar).

      I had a couple of friends who had personal interactions with him. For instance, Gates was, at one time, the director of the CIA, and I had a friend who was interested in working in intelligence. Gates actually set aside time to mentor my friend one-on-one on several occasions, even though my friend was just a random student out of the 45,000 or so that were there at the time. Another example of the sort of guy he is: A&M has a tradition that involves students gathering at midnight on the night before any football game. Gates never missed a single one of those in his entire time there, even though he was under no obligation to attend any of them (the President that followed him certainly didn't attend them on a regular basis). I even recall seeing him at one after he had injured his leg (broken it? can't recall). He hobbled out to the stadium on crutches at midnight and climbed into the stands with the rest of us. He sent out regular e-mails to the student body that you could tell he hadn't simply put his signature on, and he addressed campus problems that came up head on, rather than tiptoeing around them and promising to "look into them" or "form a committee".

      The faculty loved him too. Many of them had had the opportunity to talk to him directly, and when he said he'd get something done for them, he meant it. He instilled a strong sense of vision in the university, encouraging them to think way bigger than they had been thinking, while at the same time streamlining things and encouraging them to be frugal. All of this in 4 years.

      In short, I consider him to be one of the "good guys" that we always lament about not being able to get into politics. I wish there were more people like him in politics, since we need more people there who detest the state of things.

    • by sgt_doom (655561)
      Typical clueless American idiot who will never understand the plutocracy's political theater of the absurd, for all the infanitlized Ameritards who can only "comprehend" their entertainment TV.....
  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Wednesday January 08, 2014 @01:50PM (#45899437)

    "Resist the magnetic pull exercised by the White House"? Uh...idiot your job is to enforce the President's policies! If you find that your disagreements are that broad, you resign. You make your case, defend it as well as you can, and if the boss says "F it, I want to do it this way," you accept that as the way leadership works. The concerns of a President are larger than that of any Secretary. The top guy is the one ultimately responsible for outcomes so it's always easier for the junior officers to come up with daring, risky plans.

    Crying about the self-interests of Congressmen? Uh...that's what Congress is!

    While I agree with his complaints about how our government is functioning, he's not the one bearing the brunt of partisan warfare.

    • by tomhath (637240) on Wednesday January 08, 2014 @02:06PM (#45899641)

      your job is to enforce the President's policies

      How the policy is carried out is not the same as ensuring it's carried out.

      If Obama had said "Withdraw from Iraq/Afghanistan now" Gates would have done that or resigned. But being told to fight the war, then being second guessed on how to fight the war was the problem.

    • by Artagel (114272)

      First of all, his oath of office (from Wikipedia)

      I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. [So help me God.

      Nothing there about the President, though he does serve

  • by Bob9113 (14996) on Wednesday January 08, 2014 @01:57PM (#45899513) Homepage

    "Duty" offers the familiar criticism of Congress and its culture, describing it as "truly ugly." Gates's cold feelings toward the legislative branch stand in stark contrast to his warmth for the military. He repeatedly describes his affection for the troops, especially those in combat.

    Gee, he hates the career politicians who constrain his freedom to act, and loves the people in his chain of command? I'm stunned. Really. You could knock me over with a sledgehammer.

    Gates's severe criticism is even more surprising -- some might say contradictory -- because toward the end of "Duty," he says of Obama's chief Afghanistan policies, "I believe Obama was right in each of these decisions." ... The sometimes bitter tone ... contrasts sharply with the even-tempered image that he cultivated during his many years of government service ... In "Duty," Gates describes his outwardly calm demeanor as a facade. Underneath, he writes, he was frequently "seething" and "running out of patience on multiple fronts."

    So he's saying highly placed officials are under a lot of pressure, try to do what they believe is right, are often in highly contentious situations, have to suppress their emotional reactions, and on sober reflection ultimately support each other? My goodness, these exciting revelations have me so wound up I may go over to the couch and have a little snooze.

    Pop media trying to turn pedestrian normality into sizzling drama. Yawn.

    You want to do something interesting, Gates? Surprise me. Tell me about your fight against the F-35. Tell me about how hard you fought, the times you really put yourself on the line, to get that boondoggle cut. Oh, you didn't? That's why we're still paying for that stupid porkbarrel piece of shit that you opposed? So you're saying you talk the talk, but didn't walk the walk. You want to get me excited about your dedication to America, show me you took a risk for what you believed in when doing so had no upside for you. Don't just whine about how hard it was because everyone else were jerks; I can get that story from every single person on the planet.

  • Congress really DOES represent the people!

    were nothing compared with the pain of dealing with Congress. ... 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.

    Has Gates considered blogger moderation and karma whoring to mitigate the dysfunction? I'm sure Ralph Reed might do something for extending unemployment benefits if we gave him a cookie.

  • So the "special dood" who was groomed from his teen years to be a CIA/DoD stooge (evidently his uncle was a SecDef, Thomas Gates, under Eisenhower), and who boiled cats as a "well adjusted" teen, who was kept from become the CIA director by a large scale public mutiny of the CIA employees at the time he was acting director, who was first appointed by George Weasel Bush, then reappointed by the clueless Obama (who still hasn't learned to play chess) once again, in yet another of his many "memoirs" criticizes
  • It is very good to get Gates point of view of the situation, but remember the Military has a specific mission that doesn't always match the goal of the society. Take for example Vietnam War, the military rightly asks themselves how they could have better fought the war and win it, also how the military could have avoided most of the political fallout from the cost of running the war. However what the military never, and can never, ask themselves is are we fighting the right war. Even people who still bel

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