Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Gates On The Defense

I've read a lot of reviews, commentary and released excerpts from Robert Gates' new memoir.  I can tell you right up front not to waste your time.  When I read that Gates describes President Bush as a "mature leader" who was intellectually strong and confident in his abilities, any credibility he might have had vanished completely.

Gates also clearly admired Bush for never looking back on it or having second thoughts.  Disgusting.  Tell that to the families of dead, wounded and displaced Iraqis, the thousands of dead and wounded American soldiers.  Yes-- we elected a President who never had the intellectual curiosity or humility to think back on his actions or reexamine his moral compass.

According to his own words, Gates himself was a moral coward who didn't have the balls to come out against DADT on the merits.  He freely admitted what prompted him to lift the ban on gays in the CIA was the feeling that if he didn’t, the courts would do so-- which in his own mind was the worst result possible (Oh, the horrors of judges enforcing constitutional and human rights!)

Gates attacked Reid and Pelosi for saying the Iraq war was un-winnable while at the same time agreeing with Ambassador Crocker that it probably WAS un-winnable.  

Gates also criticized Obama and Biden for not trusting the military leaders--  writing “I was offended by [Obama's] suspicion that any of us would ever write about such sensitive matters.”  Incredibly, he also admits that he felt General Petreaus  might not have been completely trustworthy and may have been politically manipulative at times-- even once being threatened by him during a visit to Iraq.  On top of that, we have a former Pentagon chief writing a book criticizing a sitting President . . . personally, I think all civilian leaders should harbor a natural distrust of the military.  Most recently, the military aided and abetted Cheney and Bush in their misguided war efforts and use of torture.

And Gates himself  in many ways is a re-tread of Robert McNamara-- both long-time Secretaries of Defense who helped further U.S. involvement in unpopular wars.  And after leaving the administration, both put out books blaming the Presidents they were supposedly advising, and absolving themselves of any blame.  Anyone with an ounce of  integrity would have resigned if they found themselves in an untenable situation. Instead, Gates kept "advising" the President and squirreling away little tidbits for a book he hoped would make him rich.

Gates also didn't have nice things to say about Harry Reid.  When he heard the Senate Majority Leader famously declared “This war is lost,” and that “the surge is not accomplishing anything,”  Gates was reminded of a Lincoln quote (which he shared with his staff): “Congressmen who willfully take actions during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs and should be arrested, exiled, or hanged.”   Of course, Gates fails to acknowledge any irony in the fact that he himself is criticizing a sitting President during a war (on "terror"), which also undermines military leaders and damages moral.

Gates can't resist wading into the purely political waters either, criticizing the Obama administration for their belief (at the beginning of his term) that "Everything was awful, and Obama and his team had arrived just in time to save the day.”  So where was Gates then, when the Bush administration squandered a surplus, started two wars, invaded a country that had nothing to do with 9/11, left behind a real estate market in meltdown, with an economy on the verge of the worst recession since the Great Depression?

People like Gates, who write books to make money and to defend their own actions (or inaction) and try to defend an inept administration (in which they themselves took part) are nothing more than cowards who deserve little respect.

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