Monday, July 28, 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

Rodriguez student collects, stuffs backpacks for others

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
30 years ago, Art Koch died keeping the city safe

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1, 4 Comments | Gallery

Relay for Life of Fairfield was super

By Tony Wade | From Page: A2

 
Weather for Monday, July 28, 2014

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

 
Artistic ingenuity unhinged at Contraptor’s Road Rally

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Rockville Trail hike offered

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

National Alliance on Mental Illness meeting Monday

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Summertime Fill the Barrel Food Drive ends Thursday

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Live music at Solano Town Center mall

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
County fair opens Wednesday in Vallejo

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Food preservation class at library

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Canines graduate from CHP training academy

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A3

GV Cellars to host Food Bank fundraiser

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Suisun police log: July 26, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

Fairfield police log: July 26, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

 
Renowned cardiovascular surgeon comes to NorthBay

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A10

Business workshop addresses marketing

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A10

 
Fairfield gets new pizza shop

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A10, 1 Comment | Gallery

.

US / World

Bills aim to bring family law into 21st century

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
UConn makes 3-D copies of antique instrument parts

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Family law bills proposed in California

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Man dies after lightning strikes 14 in California

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

California governor to meet with Mexican president

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Study: Blue whales at risk of hitting ships

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Gaza war rages despite Hamas, Israel truce pledges

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Fighting intensifies near MH17 disaster site

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

.

Opinion

It’s clear: Israel wants West Bank, not peace

By Jack Batson | From Page: A8

 
Arrogance of power evident

By Earl Heal | From Page: A8

 
California’s death penalty dying of old age

By Dan Walters | From Page: A8

Editorial Cartoon: July 28, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
District needs peanut-free schools

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 2 Comments

.

Living

Today in History for July 28, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: July 28, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Randall: Why a ‘liar’ loves to hear from readers

By Sharon Randall | From Page: B5

 
My 33-year-old daughter blames me for all her problems

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A7

Horoscopes for July 28, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A7

 
.

Entertainment

Comic-Con: ‘Avengers’ unleash ‘Ultron’ footage

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
TV team: Actor, detective role paired for 25 years

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Comic-Con: Kingsley voices animated villain in ‘Boxtrolls’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
‘Lucy’ tops ‘Hercules’ with $44M at box office

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

TVGrid July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Comic-Con’s dark side: Harassment amid the fantasy

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Comic-Con: ‘Hobbit’ cast tease trailer, bloopers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Comic-Con: 4 DC Comics brought to TV get event

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Comic-Con: Radcliffe goes undercover as Spidey

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Comic-Con: ‘Ant-Man’ cast revealed: Lilly, Douglas, Rudd

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Comic-Con: ‘Blacklist’ fans get black fedoras

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

‘The Vampire Diaries’ takes bite out of Comic-Con

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Comic-Con: ‘Batman v Superman’ stare-down

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Comic-Con: Godzilla sequel announced

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
TVGrid July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A10

.

Sports

McGloin buried on Raiders depth chart again

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Giants lose in Peavy’s debut, swept by Dodgers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Lawrence Okoye preparing for the NFL

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
 
It’s ‘Jeff Gordon Day’ at Indy for record 5th time

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Byron Scott says he will be LA Lakers’ new coach

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Jaso has 3 RBIs as A’s beat Rangers 9-3

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Horsey wins Russian Open in playoff

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Tim Clark rallies to win Canadian Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Spain sweeps to victory in International Crown

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Langer wins Senior British Open by record 13 shots

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Mudcats take pair from Pro Player Baseball

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

 
The Big Hurt and Joe Torre headline HOF class

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali wins Tour de France

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
LeBron deep-sixes number; will be No. 23 with Cavs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

This date in sports history for Monday, July 28, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
.

Business

.

Obituaries

Elizabeth Terry

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A4

 
Robert Dale Myers Sr.

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Pickles July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Frank and Ernest July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Beetle Bailey July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Peanuts July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

B.C. July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
For Better or Worse July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Get Fuzzy July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Wizard of Id July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baldo July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Dilbert July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baby Blues July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Sally Forth July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Rose is Rose July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Blondie July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Zits July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Garfield July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Bridge July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Crossword July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Cryptoquote July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Word Sleuth July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Sudoku July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Sally Forth July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Zits July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Dilbert July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Get Fuzzy July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Rose is Rose July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

For Better or Worse July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
B.C. July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Wizard of Id July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Baldo July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Blondie July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Baby Blues July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Beetle Bailey July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Pickles July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Garfield July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Peanuts July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Frank and Ernest July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Cryptoquote July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Sudoku July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
Crossword July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Bridge July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
Word Sleuth July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7