Politicization of Gates’s memoir misses serious praise of Clinton

Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’s new memoir, “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War,” has led to wide misinterpretation for partisan gamesmanship that should not go unanswered in the public dialogue. 

The memoir’s recounting and editorializing of recent, ongoing and sensitive policy deliberations over national security, international diplomacy and use-of-force seems unprecedented while an administration is still in office.  This timing has led to much political rhetoric surrounding what might otherwise be a serious insightful offering from a patriot and military leader who I am proud to have known.

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As a rear admiral and the Navy’s first Competition Advocate General appointed by President Reagan I have a first hand familiarity with policy and defense decision making within an administration.  That is how I first came to know Robert Gates during the Reagan administration. I have great respect for his leadership, insight and belief in our country, our military and his concern for the sacrosanct safety and wellbeing of our men and women in uniform and those who have worn the uniform.

In the accounts of his memoir I’ve read, former Secretary Gates’s highest praise for any official appears to be reserved for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  Gates wrote that he, “found her smart, idealistic but pragmatic, tough-minded, indefatigable, funny, a very valuable colleague, and a superb representative of the United States all over the world.”

Gates’s praise of Hillary Clinton was consistent over the years they worked together. 

But the partisan gamesmanship of Washington has largely pushed Gates’s assessment of Hillary aside, instead focusing on a small and benign exchange Gates claims to have observed between President Obama and then Secretary Clinton.  Gates believes he heard a conversation regarding the Iraq troop surge and that politics impacted how they talked about it in the campaign. As a result, partisan pundits have feigned shock and indignity that political rhetoric in a political campaign might be influenced by politics. 

The record is clear: as a senator and a Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton has always put our national security and our armed forces above politics.  She’s been an advocate for those who have worn the uniform and a voice for sound foreign policy and defense policy.

Unlike Secretary Gates who initially opposed it, Hillary Clinton supported the raid to get Osama Bin Laden, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks on America. Memoirs gossiping about the politics of yester-year don't change the facts of Hillary Clinton's record.  She helped bring an end to the war in Iraq, restored and rebuilt America's relationships and standing around the globe, and supported the successful attack on America's worst terrorist enemy of our lifetimes.

As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton was a leader in bringing one war to an end, Iraq, and planning for the end of another, Afghanistan.  She was integral in the New START Treaty with Russia reducing nuclear missile launchers.  She was key to negotiating a Gaza cease-fire between Israelis and Palestinians, averting all-out war.

As a U.S. Senator, Hillary Clinton made veterans one of her main focuses. She introduced the Heroes at Home Act to help family members care for those with Traumatic Brain Injury. She also worked to pass legislation to increase the military survivor benefit from $12,000 to $100,000 as well as the Support for Injured Servicemembers Act, to extend benefits provided under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Hillary Clinton lives up to the high praise Gates offers for her in his book, whether the partisan gamesmanship of Washington acknowledges it or not.

Platt, chairman and CEO of Harbor Wing technologies, was the Navy’s first Competition Advocate General, appointed by President Ronald Reagan.