Article

PrintPrint EmailEmail ShareShare CiteCite
Style:MLAAPAChicagoClose

loading...

Mr. Gatesís Farewell

Author: Max Boot, Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow for National Security Studies
September 2011
Commentary

Share

Robert Gates left his job as secretary of defense at the end of June to virtually universal hosannas. Retrospectives of his four and a half years in office invariably noted he was the first defense secretary to serve presidents of two different parties. That he was able to become a central member of the Obama administration after having held senior posts in the Reagan administration and both Bush administrations is, if nothing else, a tribute to the survival skills of this career government bureaucrat who got his start as a lowly CIA analyst on the Soviet desk in the 1960s. A certified Washington ďwise manĒ of the old school, he provided not only veteran counsel but also bipartisan cover for President Obama, who came into office with little background or credibility on defense issues.

He ended his tenure at the Pentagon as one of the most effective defense secretaries in American history. Yet, for all his achievements, major questions remain about his legacy, as he himself acknowledged in an extraordinary and unprecedented series of speeches and interviews he gave on his way out of office. By the end of his service, Gates had managed the diffi cult feat of putting himself at odds not only with Obama but also with many conservativesówhile earning the respect of both. In order to evaluate his sometimes scathing critique of national-security policy, we must first glance at his tenure.

This article appears in full on CFR.org by permission of its original publisher. It was originally available here (Subscription required).

More on This Topic

Article

The Model Modern General

Author: Max Boot
Wall Street Journal

In a review of Stanley McChrystal's My Share of the Task, Max Boot says throughout McChrystal's career, the general was unshakably dedicated...

Article

Bureaucrats in Uniform

Author: Max Boot
New York Times

Max Boot reviews The Generals by Thomas E. Rick, a book that traces the evolution of prevailing attitudes toward the promotion and relief of...

Op-Ed

Petraeus: A Necessary Man

Author: Max Boot
Los Angeles Times

Max Boot says David Petraeus's intellectualism was crucial to the U.S. military. Now the nation loses his skills.

Article

The Worst

Author: Max Boot
The New Republic

Max Boot reviews Donald Rumsfeld's Known and Unknown.