Former Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has done considerably more damage to this nation than what he claims was done by those (such as Assange, Manning, and Snowden) who disclosed information every American has a full right to know. Gates' new "piss-and-tell" book, DUTY: Memoirs of a Secretary At War, is a despicable memoir of Gates at war -- but Gates' war is being waged against his former Commander in Chief and many of his other colleagues in Washington.
From advance copies of this nasty book distributed to the press and other media, its focus seems to be mainly on the alleged shortcomings of President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and undoubtedly other targets of Gates' attacks -- people who had the temerity to trust Bob Gates enough to keep him on as Secretary of Defense after the George W. Bush term of office ended, and Barack Obama's term of office began. In retrospect, this was surely a major blunder by the Obama Administration -- but that blunder was based upon giving trust to the untrustworthy, in an early show of bipartisanship which the present Administration undoubtedly now regrets.
Some of the nastiest attacks by Gates which the media has been citing (based on those advance press copies of DUTY) involve allegations such as these: While President Bush was committed to our dual wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, President Obama displayed an utter lack of passion regarding them; Vice President Joe Biden has not made a correct foreign policy decision in all of his decades of high-level public service; former Secretary Clinton and President Obama
vied with each other as to how much they could use both wars, and the resulting loss of life, limb, and national resources, for their own personal political gain. Undoubtedly, once the book appears publicly, it will be dissected for more such juicy tidbits of "insider information" -- most likely based mainly on Gates' "insider frustration" at the time.
Nasty allegations such as these are virtually impossible to answer effectively, as they are impressionistic rather than realistic, and judgmental rather than factual. Bob Gates has every right to his personal views of leading figures in the Obama Administration, and their handling of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, having the "right to write" and the "right to vent" is not at all the same thing as having sound judgment and trustworthiness.
It was not Bob Gates duty to publish DUTY at this time -- he might well have waited until the Obama Administration faded into history, along with his obligations to his former Commander in Chief. Or he might have written and published a far more balanced memoir of his experiences as Secretary of Defense during both the Bush and Obama Administrations. Or he might have tried much harder to be fair, to point up both the accomplishments and shortcomings of both Administrations, not just the deficiencies (as he sees them) of the present one. From the heavy advance press coverage, it seems that Bob Gates has done none of those things -- rather, he has not done his duty in DUTY, he has done a disservice to those who trusted him and his judgment. Et tu, former Defense Secretary Gates? This is the "unkindest cut of all."
Eugene Elander has been a progressive social and political activist for decades. As an author, he won the Young Poets Award at 16 from the Dayton Poets Guild for his poem, The Vision. He was chosen Poet Laureate of (more...)