A&M president emeritus, former U.S. defense secretary and CIA director, and author of a memoir that's dominating cable news chatter, Robert Gates is returning to Aggieland.

Sorry Aggies, Gates told The Eagle previously that he's not interested in the opening for university president. Instead, he will be back in town to plug his new book, DUTY: Memoirs of a Secretary at War,

which was released Tuesday. At 11 a.m. on Jan. 21 in Rudder Auditorium, Gates will talk about the book, answer audience questions and sign copies of the memoir.

Gates, the 22nd president of A&M, told The Eagle he was looking forward to returning.

"It has been too long since being in Aggieland," Gates said in an email. "I am looking forward to being back."

The book dominated cable news talk shows before the New Jersey bridge scandal took center stage. Gates' book is still getting a fair amount of play for his blunt assessments and critiques of the administration of President Barack Obama and Washington politics in general.

Quotes such as "[Vice President Joe Biden] has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades" and "I saw most of Congress as uncivil, incompetent at fulfilling their basic constitutional responsibilities (such as timely appropriations), micromanagerial, parochial, hypocritical, egotistical, thin-skinned and prone to put self (and re-election) before country" have received significant attention.

B. Dan Wood, a Texas A&M political science professor, had seen the widely circulated quotes but had not read the memoir when contacted by The Eagle on Monday. He said Gates didn't make outlandish comments and that the revelations in the book won't likely remain in the public consciousness long term.

"The news cycle will pass this by very quickly and what you might see in the future is during campaigns you may see advertisements harken back to that sort of thing, but I think it will have a very minimal effect," Wood said. "One of the big reasons I think this is a non-issue is there wasn't anything specific in the stuff that I've read in the reports on the book. When I say not specific, there was no real claim of malfeasance or any wrongdoing that was done by anyone. His one negative about Biden suggested to me he disagreed with Biden ... and that strikes me as a difference in partisanship and perspective."

Similarly, Wood said, Gates' commentary will likely not impact Obama's legacy.

"The secretary of defense, Bob Gates, is a person who brings a distinctive perspective to all of the jobs that he's held," Wood said. "He was recruited by the CIA. He served a stint in the Air Force sponsored by the CIA and then he entered directly into the CIA and, from that point on, with the exception of his time here at A&M, was a bureaucrat in the national security apparatus. His perspective is quite a bit different than that of the average American."

Wood said he has fond memories of Gates as university president and that Gates' opinions of Washington seem to be in stark contrast to that of Texas A&M.

"He said he hated Washington and he hated being secretary of defense. My take is he seemed to have really loved being a university president and dean of the Bush school here. He moved from a job that he seemed to love into a job that he seemed to hate. The title of his book is Duty -- maybe he did it because it was his duty to do it."

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(4) comments

Nunya Bidness

The tin foil hat crowd is out in full force this morning!!! A war criminal? Really?

Total wingnuts.

Peter Witt

Gates is now a book hawker...he is coming to A&M to sell his book...the book had to have controversial stuff in it or no one would read it. Many won't read it anyway. Gates lived a life of clandestine operations and secrets, yet he found it necessary to write a book and sell his insider information to a public. Bet he is really upset that the news cycle for what he published was so short due to Bridge(t)gate. Bless him however for now turning his attention to cleaning up the boy scouts...but you can bet that few will ever be candid with him in person again for fear of ending up in his next book.

George Hayduke

Some people might say he should be prosecuted as a war criminal. Prosecuting a war of aggression... Bombing civilian populations... Directed illegal kidnapping and torture

Also: One of the main reasons the CIA failed to predict the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 was precisely the exaggerations and politicization pushed by Gates.
Gates was involved in selling Pentagon weaponry to the Ayatollah Khomeini.

Gates was involved in the diversion of funds from the (already illegal) sales of arms to Iran by Col. Oliver North.

Gates was, involved in further covert provision of weaponry, including chemicals and biological precursors to Saddam Hussein of Iraq.

Robert Gates is a former Director of the CIA (1991-1993). He has a long history of politicizing intelligence. Gates was implicated in the Iran-Contra scandal and is considered the "father" of Al Qaeda - he formed the Arab Legion, a young Al Qaeda fighting force, in Afghanistan to fight the Soviets.


I have an enormous amount of respect for Dr. Gates when he was president of the university, and I can only imagine how much more difficult the job of Secretary of Defense must have been. I also believe that President Obama is one of the worst presidents our country has ever seen, period. Having said all of this, I find it extremely disloyal for Dr. Gates to have released these memoirs when Obama is still in office. Not cool.

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