Thursday, November 27, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

An ex-defense secretary goes on the offense

By
From page A8 | January 20, 2014 |

The secretary of defense knew it was time to go, even though his war, still painfully un-won, was destined to drag on with no certainty of a satisfying outcome.

And near the end, there was a public moment when emotion overtook this SecDef who was famous among his insiders for being cool and controlled in tough times.

It happened in the White House East Room when the president presented his secretary of defense with the Medal of Freedom, the highest honor a commander in chief can give a civilian. The secretary, overwhelmed by emotion, fought one last battle before losing to the tears that filled his eyes and rolled down his cheeks. “I cannot find the words to express what lies in my heart,” he said, “and I guess I better respond on another occasion.”

That was February 1968 and it was not until 1995 when former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara found the words that were really in his heart that day and every day since. Long after President Lyndon Johnson was dead, McNamara wrote the words Johnson would never have wanted to read: “We were wrong, terribly wrong.”

Fast forward to now. Another long-serving defense secretary, Robert Gates, has just produced a memoir that, while it couldn’t compare to the shock of McNamara’s tragic admission, has nevertheless stunned the world within Washington’s Beltway.

Gates, who spent five years prosecuting troubled wars in Afghanistan and Iraq for Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, rushed to deliver his book (titled “Duty”) so it would be read before the 2016 presidential campaign.

Gates’ book castigates Obama and his White House. He is right when he complains about the tight, controlling ways of Obama’s White House – but that’s just standard Washington payback.

It’s the heart of Gates’ book that stunned even Gates’ Republican allies – for he harshly criticizes the motives of his former boss and current president. Here Gates seems to have co-authored his memoir with his polar-opposite twin. Gates seems of two minds in his memoir.

Consider Gates’ recounting of Obama’s decision, opposed by many Democrats, to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan.

Gates wrote: “The president doesn’t trust his commander  …  doesn’t believe in his own strategy and doesn’t consider the war to be his. For him, it’s all about getting out.”

But wait – Gates also wrote, concerning Obama’s crucial Afghan war decisions: “I believe Obama was right in each of these decisions.” And when he wasn’t blasting Obama, Gates was praising him. He said Obama is “very thoughtful and analytical, but he is also quite decisive.  …  I think we have a similar approach to dealing with national security issues.”

Finally, Gates wrote: “I never doubted Obama’s support for the troops, only his support for their mission.”

But the Afghanistan war is America’s longest war ever. Shouldn’t any thinking leader have doubts, given the history of strategies that finished short of expectations? Gates grants himself that, but apparently not his president.

On Gates’ last day, Obama had presented him with the Medal of Freedom, in a ceremony that was filled with words of mutual admiration. The framed citation hangs proudly on Gates wall today, in the study where Gates wrote the book so criticizing the president who had praised, honored, respected and trusted him.

There is a human condition at the core of older folks whose job is to send younger folks into wars that may end without being won. Gates kept count of every military casualty in Afghanistan and Iraq while he was secretary. He wrote personalized letters to families of each service member who was killed.

In his last visit to U.S. troops in Afghanistan, in December 2010, Gates, who, like McNamara, was also known for being cool and controlled, also emotionally choked up.

“I feel a personal responsibility for each and every one of you,” he said in a voice choked with tears. “. . .   I just want to thank you and tell you how much I love you.”

Love is not your standard GI-issued message from the SecDef. But it was all Bob Gates had left as he stood there that day.

And sadly now, what this excellent and patriotic defense secretary had left for the rest of us is mainly just the sort of petty Washington squabbles and payback Bob Gates always detested hearing from others.

Martin Schram is a veteran Washington journalist, author and TV documentary executive. Readers may send him email at martin.schram@gmail.com.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Mike KirchubelJanuary 20, 2014 - 12:19 pm

    Robert McNamara's, "The Fog of War," is a must for any true student of American history. It is avilable on dvd. A must.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

Middle Green Valley plan moves forward

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1

 
School district continues look into Armijo grade-change scandal

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Veterans ready to serve Thanksgiving dinner

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
New focus on achievement gap of black males

By Mayrene Bates | From Page: A2

 
Vacaville art gallery schedules open house

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

What’s the matter with Kansas Street?

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Sandbags available in advance of storms

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Governments shut doors for holiday

By Glen Faison | From Page: A4

 
Fairfield police log: Nov. 25, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun police log: Nov. 25, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Weather for Nov. 27, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: B12

 
.

US / World

Passengers in Russia’s Arctic give airliner a push

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Court: No warrant needed to draw parolees’ blood

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

Armored vehicle nixed by Davis ends up in Woodland

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

 
Snow makes Thanksgiving travel ‘a little hairy’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Union focuses on security guards at Apple

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Homeless man beaten to death in San Francisco

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Obama administration sets stricter smog standard

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Obama gets the bill for White House Thanksgiving

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Heart stent for Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg, 81

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
American among hostages targeted in Yemen raid

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Sierra Leone official: Ebola may have reached peak

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Hong Kong police arrest key protesters, clear site

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Canada police arrest ex-radio host in sex case

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Impoverished Lebanese city is target for IS group

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Spy balloons give police new view of Jerusalem

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Grand jury documents rife with inconsistencies

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

Small crowd protests in Oakland for third night

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

 
Ferguson residents clean up, hope for calm night

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

Prosecutor faces new criticism over Ferguson case

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

 
.

Living

Today in History: Nov. 27, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Nov. 27, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscope for Nov. 27, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

 
Nursing homes full of opportunities for giving

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Tom Hanks, wife to host Christmas tree lighting

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

With shake-ups, AC/DC perseveres with album, tour

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
875 hours of holiday programming on TV last year

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

Missing model-restaurateur B. Smith found in NYC

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
Garth Brooks cites Ferguson for cancellation

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

University in Tennessee cancels Cosby appearance

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
.

Sports

Seahawks, 49ers meet for 1st time this season

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Panda heads put away with Sandoval’s departure

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

All City football: Vikings sweep top honors

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
San Francisco’s bid for 2024 Olympics taking shape

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

NFL might not flex any Sunday night games in 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Curry, 3s too much for Magic; Warriors win 111-96

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

Sharks sign emergency backup goalie

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Spurs’ Popovich undergoes medical procedure

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

AP source: Tomas in process of deal with D’backs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Harden leads Rockets past Kings 102-89

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Smith to start at QB for Jets vs. Dolphins on MNF

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Butler knocks off No. 5 North Carolina, 74-66

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

RG3 benched: Redskins to start Colt McCoy vs. Indy

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Raiders’ Woodson expects to play in 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Atletico Madrid, Arsenal reach knockout phase

By The Associated Press | From Page: B12

 
.

Business

FBI data show thousands of gun sales beat checks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
US new home sales up 0.7 percent in October

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

US agency threatens to act against air bag maker

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Twitter now tracks other apps you’ve installed

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

Health insurance sign-ups coming to shopping malls

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
.

Obituaries

Esther Ringler

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Dora Maria Aranda

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

Adrian Looy

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
.

Holiday Gift Guide 2014

Why millennials prefer electronic gift cards

By The Washington Post | From Page: HGG2

How to give holiday gift cards

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG2

How to establish gift spending limits

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG3

Teen gifts: ideas for hard-to-buy-for big kids

By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG3

Novice crafter? There’s a project for that!

By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG6

Gift ideas for the special seniors in your life

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG6

Time and money-saving holiday gift ideas

By Statepoint Media | From Page: HGG7

Oy vey, holidays! Does Hanukkah wannabe Christmas?

By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG7

How to save on high-tech gifts

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG10

Shop top finalists for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund

By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG11

Sharing music: a personal gift made easy by tech

By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG12

Great gifts for music lovers

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG13

Kitchen gift-giving made easy with personality profiles

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG14

Great gifts for the family foodie

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG14

Holiday shows abound in Solano County

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: HGG17

Great gifts for people who love to read

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG19

An oft-elusive yet gifty treat: coffee table books

By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG19

Steps to take before giving pets as gifts

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG22

2014 holiday toy predictions

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG22

Eco-friendly gift ideas for ‘green’ giving

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG22

Things to consider before buying this holiday season

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG22

Trend-setting gifts for the women on your holiday shopping list

By Brandpoint Content | From Page: HGG23

Gifts to keep kids engaged

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG25

Gift wrap tricks to save time

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG26

Save time and energy with a family gift this holiday season

By Brandpoint Content | From Page: HGG27

Gift exchange dos and don’ts

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG30

Right at Home: gifts you can use – and use up

By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG30

How to send gifts to faraway friends and family

By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG30