“Duty” by Bob Gates, Secretary of Defense


As a moderately partisan voter, I found it instructive to read Bob Gates’ book, “Duty,” about his service as secretary of defense to presidents of two different parties. Here are my main takeaways. 1) Both Bush and Obama are decent, gracious, highly informed, and hard-working men who passionately love America and care deeply about its future. 2) Both men faced innumerable excruciating razor-thin choices that might impact millions, perhaps fatally. Often they would sit in the Situation Room and listen as two evenly split factions of brilliant advisors argued heatedly for diametrically opposing views. The fallacy, so popular among uninformed citizens, that a president simply blunders along and makes careless, dumb, or timid choices, is cynically erroneous. 3) Both presidents were fervent supporters of the military, appreciative of the troops’ sacrifices, and dedicated to giving military leaders the tools they needed. 4) Speaking critically, Gates allows that Bush’s decision to invade Iraq might yet prove to be a substantial blunder. Obama’s White House, he writes, is likely one of the most politically driven in history, too prone to micromanage the military for partisan purposes. 5) Between Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton, who does Gates apparently think has solid judgment and effective leadership skills? Clinton by a landslide. And 6) going to war should always be a last resort, never a first.


About David B. Smith

I'm a math professor at San Bernardino Valley College - awesome place! - and author of adult Christian fiction. Lisa and I have two grown daughters and four grandkids.
This entry was posted in 2012 election, Bob Gates, George W. Bush, Hillary Clinton, Military, Secretary of Defense and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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