Gates and the Duty Dilemma

There is at least one major issue that you give shockingly short shrift, namely Iran. It gets mentioned en passant a few times. You allude to their murderous activities in Iraq (almost nothing about similar actions in Afghanistan, not even a passing reference to Hekmatyar's role as an active Iranian agent), and you get approval for our guys to go after them on the ground there (without discussing why they were ever off-limits in the first place, something we military families would still like to know, as it was apparently part of the Bush era's rules of engagement). There is also a very brief lament at your inability to get "the system" to plan for contingencies that might provoke open armed conflict with the Islamic Republic.

But that discussion isn't so much about American initiatives as it is about reacting to possible actions by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whom you detest and for whom you reserve some of your book's harshest language. But then, that's only to be expected from someone whose two strategic gurus are Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski, both of whom prefer Arab trillionaires and billionaires to the rough-and-tumble representatives of the Middle East's lone free country. Yes, you keep telling us how strongly you support Israel, but it isn't true. You resisted the attack on the Syrian/North Korean nuclear reactor (about which we knew nothing) the Israelis ultimately destroyed, and when, contrary to your own dire warnings, there was no Syrian (or Iranian, or Hezbollah or Hamas) response, you refused to rethink your template and repeated similarly dire warnings when it came to discussing possible action against the Iranian nuclear program. On what basis? "Iran isn't Syria."

There's nothing about supporting the Iranian opposition, no comparison with Reagan's policy of working with Soviet dissidents, trade unions, and Jewish refuseniks, and next to nothing about political or even economic warfare.

The one big policy fight was over Libya, where you lost out to the Valkyries (Clinton, Rice, Power) and the born-again hawks in Europe. You usually were on the winning side in such fights, even when it came to naming your successor. Panetta was on your short list, along with three other names that should have been cited as one of the big headlines in Duty. They were: Hillary Clinton, Colin Powell, and Michael Bloomberg. Yes, that Michael Bloomberg...

Which pretty much tells us why you had so few serious disagreements with either Bush or Obama. Good grief!

(Artwork created using multiple images.)