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“Nothing” in his life became him like the leaving it” “Macbeth” Act I, scene 4
History will, I believe, view Robert Gates’ time as Secretary of Defense in a favorable light. But as he prepares to leave the Pentagon, there is one last action that he can do for the greater good of the troops, and the country, that he loves; and that is to resign, immediately.
When Pres. Bush decided to replace Donald Rumsfeld as SecDef ( whether or not one agrees with that decision) Gates was the perfect successor. Competent, calm, he brought instant stability to America’s military structure, at a time while it was heavily engaged in two difficult wars.
And after the 2008 election, he acceded to Obama’s request to remain as SecDef. There were many on the right who openly wished that he had retired. They felt he gave Obama “cover” in many ways; Obama could cite “bipartisanship” as he attempted to close Gitmo, hold trials in Federal Court in NYC, reshape the military by voiding Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, increase troop levels in Afghanistan ( but not as much as requested), and then announce when they’re scheduled to depart…it’s a fairly long list. And Gates did often attempt to explain, and advocate, for the administration’s positions.
Many have wondered why he chose to stay on. Running America’s military, especially in times of conflict, is an awesome, and also exhilirating, responsibility, and I believe Gates welcomes the opportunity. He also has a great love for the troops, and I expect that deep down, he felt that he could do a far better job than anyone else that Obama might name. (recall that the last Democrat president, BIll Clinton, first gave us Les Aspin) So he stayed on, and has no doubt helped to limit the damage that Obama has done to date.
Last year, before nearly the entire Middle East erupted, Gates announced that he would be leaving sometime this year, probably around mid year. Since that was also the time when our newly surged troops in Afghanistan were scheduled to begin rotating out, many viewed it as an implicit rebuke of Obama’s policy.
But now Obama has embarked on a chaotic “non-policy” in the Middle East. There is no policy, and it changes every few days. It is NOT a war, it is a “kinetic military action.” We are not running it, NATO is ( maybe?). Qadaffi MUST go, but our objective is NOT to remove him. Obama announced that US forces were being committed while he was on a South American jaunt, without bothering to let Congress, or the American people, know what he was doing, and his reasons. Heck, Obama could have Tweeted everyone…a mere 140 characters..This could have worked: ” Hey, USA!!! Barack baby here! Rio’s the bomb! Speaking of bombs, we’re gonna bomb Libya. Home by Friday. SYS. .”
OK, Mr. Secretary. It’s Sunday afternoon. Obama’s Final Four picks have all bit the dust. But we are at WAR in Libya. America’s treasure is being expended daily; our troops our engaged, and inevitably, lives will be lost. So today you were trotted out on just about all the Sunday talking head shows, along with Sec. Clinton, to try and explain the unexplainable. And when you honestly and forthrightly stated that “Libya was NOT a vital US interest,” she all but cut you off at the knees ( and possibly other body parts) and you sat there like a school boy being sent for a time-out.
Mr. Secretary, please resurrect an action that has long been absent from American politics and governance: a resignation to protest a given policy. Do so now, make your case, state your reasons to the American people at a time and venue of your choice, free to speak your mind.
You owe it to the troops, those brave Americans it has been your honor to command You owe it to the American people. And you owe it to yourself, and to history. You are a far better man than we saw on television today. Show us.