FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Robert Gates’ Narcissistic Notions of "Duty"

by MELVIN A. GOODMAN

Unlike the New York Times and the Washington Post, which received room service on the delivery of the controversial memoir of Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, I will have to wait for Amazon to deliver my copy next week.  In the meantime, since I have know Bob Gates for nearly fifty years, working with him for more than a decade; working for him for five years; and testifying against him before the Senate intelligence committee in 1991, I believe that I have some warnings about the author as well as the leading lights of the mainstream media, such as David Brooks of the Times and Walter Pincus of the Post, who believe that Gates made major contributions to the national security policy of the United States.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

There are several things that need to be understood regarding Gates’ career at the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Council, and the Department of Defense. First of all, Gates has been a sycophant in all of his leadership positions, catering to the policy interests of Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcraft at the NSC; William Casey at the CIA; and the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon.  Gates catered to the right-wing ideology of Bill Casey in the 1980s, playing a major role in the politicization of intelligence and dangerously crossing the line of policy advocacy in private memoranda to the CIA director.  For the most part, Gates has been a windsock when it came to policy decisions and typically supported his masters.

Second, Gates has never demonstrated the integrity that his important positions have demanded.  As a result, when he was nominated by President Ronald Reagan to be CIA director, Senate intelligence committee chairman David Boren (D/OK) told him that the committee did not believe his denials of knowledge of Iran-Contra.  Before Gates
removed his name from the nomination process, there was considerable laughter in the hearing room when Gates referred to Casey as a model CIA director and stated that he would have resigned from the CIA if had known about the “off-the-shelf” capability to run the Iran-Contra operation out of the NSC.

Gates was nominated a second time by President George H.W.Bush in 1991 and attracted more negative votes from the Senate (thirty-one) that all directors of central intelligence in the history of the CIA.  I testified against his confirmation at that time, and I lobbied against his appointment as Secretary of Defense in 2006 to replace Donald Rumsfeld.  The day after the committee approved Gates’s appointment, the Post’s legendary cartoonist, Herblock, pictured the CIA headquarters building with a big banner proclaiming, “Now under old management.” I encountered many key Senate staffers who opposed the appointment of Gates, but believed that it was important to abort the stewardship of Rumsfeld.  At that time, I labeled Gates the “morning after” pill.

Third, it is astounding that Gates, a senior CIA Kremlinologist could be so wrong about the central issues of the day and yet make it to the top of the intelligence ladder.  For example, Who was Gorbachev?  Was he serious? Would he make a difference?  Was he serious about detente and arms control?  As late as 1989, Gates told various congressional committees that a “long, competitive struggle with the Soviet Union still lies before us” and that the “dictatorship of the Communist Party remains untouched and untouchable.”

In many ways, the most stunning aspect of Gates’s national security stewardship was his reappointment at the Defense Department by President Barack Obama in 2009.  Indeed the appointment of Hillary Clinton and the reappointment of Bob Gates were  cynical gestures, naming Clinton to keep the “Clinton Foundation” (Bill and Hillary) inside the White House tent pissing out instead of outside the tent pissing in. Gates was left in place so that the president could signal to the uniformed military that there would be no significant changes at the Pentagon.  Gates’s Cold War ideology and his politicization of intelligence were completely forgotten.

By the time that Gates’s decided to retire in 2011, President Obama was no longer following the secretary of defense’s advice on Afghanistan; the raid against Osama bin Laden; the handling of the insubordination of General Stanley McChrystal; and Gates’s heel-dragging on ending the cynical policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”  Gates decided to retire because he would not support a smaller military that would do fewer things and go to fewer places, but that is exactly what the president had finally endorsed.

President Obama would have saved himself a great deal of aggravation if he had consulted with former secretaries of state George Shultz and James Baker, whose memoirs record their difficulties with Gates’ attempts to weaken their policies and their diplomacy.  Shultz charged Gates with “manipulating” him, and reminded Gates that his CIA was “usually wrong” about Moscow.  Gates was wrong about the biggest intelligence issues of the Cold War and he made sure that the CIA was wrong as well.

I can hardly wait for Amazon to deliver my copy of the memoir.

Melvin A. Goodmana senior fellow at the Center for International Policy and adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University.  He is the author of the recently published National Insecurity: The Cost of American Militarism (City Lights Publishers) and the forthcoming “The Path to Dissent: The Story of a CIA Whistleblower” (City Lights Publisher). Goodman is a former CIA analyst and a professor of international relations at the National War College.

Melvin A. Goodman is a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy and a professor of government at Johns Hopkins University.  A former CIA analyst, Goodman is the author of “Failure of Intelligence: The Decline and Fall of the CIA,” “National Insecurity: The Cost of American Militarism,” and the forthcoming “The Path to Dissent: A Whistleblower at CIA” (City Lights Publishers, 2015).  Goodman is the national security columnist for counterpunch.org.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
December 02, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
The Coming War on China
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: The CIA’s Plots to Kill Castro
Paul Street
The Iron Heel at Home: Force Matters
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
Timberg’s Tale: Washington Post Reporter Spreads Blacklist of Independent Journalist Sites
Andrew Levine
Must We Now Rethink the Hillary Question? Absolutely, Not
Joshua Frank
CounterPunch as Russian Propagandists: the Washington Post’s Shallow Smear
David Rosen
The Return of HUAC?
Rob Urie
Race and Class in Trump’s America
Patrick Cockburn
Why Everything You’ve Read About Syria and Iraq Could be Wrong
Caroline Hurley
Anatomy of a Nationalist
Michael Hudson – Steve Keen
Rebel Economists on the Historical Path to a Global Recovery
Ayesha Khan
A Muslim Woman’s Reflections on Trump’s Misogyny
Russell Mokhiber
Sanders Single Payer and Death by Democrat
Roger Harris
The Triumph of Trump and the Specter of Fascism
Steve Horn
Donald Trump’s Swamp: Meet Ten Potential Energy and Climate Cabinet Picks and the Pickers
Louis Proyect
Deepening Contradictions: Identity Politics and Steelworkers
Ralph Nader
Trump and His Betraying Makeover
Stephen Kimber
The Media’s Abysmal Coverage of Castro’s Death
Dan Bacher
WSPA: The West’s Most Powerful Corporate Lobbying Group
Nile Bowie
Will Trump backpedal on the Trans-Pacific Partnership?
Ron Ridenour
Fidel’s Death Brings Forth Great and Sad Memories
Missy Comley Beattie
By Invitation Only
Fred Gardner
Sword of Damocles: Pot Partisans Fear Trump’s DOJ
Renee Parsons
Obama and Propornot
Dean Baker
Cash and Carrier: Trump and Pence Put on a Show
Jack Rasmus
Taming Trump: From Faux Left to Faux Right Populism
Ron Jacobs
Selling Racism—A Lesson From Pretoria
Julian Vigo
The Hijos of Buenos Aires:  When Identity is Political
Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano
By Way of Prologue: On How We Arrived at the Watchtower and What We Saw from There
Dave Lindorff
Is Trump’s Idea To Fix the ‘Rigged System’ by Appointing Crooks Who’ve Played It?
Aidan O'Brien
Fidel and Spain: A Tale of Right and Wrong
Carol Dansereau
Stop Groveling! How to Thwart Trump and Save the World
Kim Nicolini
Moonlight, The Movie
Evan Jones
Behind GE’s Takeover of Alstom Energy
James A Haught
White Evangelicals are Fading, Powerful, Baffling
Barbara Moroncini
Protests and Their Others
Joseph Natoli
The Winds at Their Backs
Cesar Chelala
Poverty is Not Only an Ignored Word
David Swanson
75 Years of Pearl Harbor Lies
Alex Jensen
The Great Deceleration
Nyla Ali Khan
When Faith is the Legacy of One’s Upbringing
Gilbert Mercier
Trump Win: Paradigm Shift or Status Quo?
Stephen Martin
From ‘Too Big to Fail’ to ‘Too Big to Lie’: the End Game of Corporatist Globalization.
Charles R. Larson
Review: Emma Jane Kirby’s “The Optician of Lampedusa”
David Yearsley
Haydn Seek With Hsu
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail