Robert Gates: The Bureaucrat Unbound

How the Defense Secretary helped turn Iraq around, shook up the Pentagon and won over Obama

Jason Reed / AP

Defense Secretary Gates conducts a May 7 town-hall meeting with U.S. troops at an operating base in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

A few weeks ago, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates trooped up to Capitol Hill to answer questions about the new Pentagon budget. This is an unseemly spectacle under the best of circumstances. Even reasonable members of Congress have been known to empretzel themselves shamelessly, attempting to defend weapons the Pentagon doesn't want or need, but which provide jobs for their constituents. Usually, they win, too. It is just too difficult for a Secretary of Defense to argue against shiny new weapons systems with subcontractors in 46 states, even if they are fantastically over budget and designed to counter a...

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