Robert Gates to Discuss New Book on CBS SUNDAY MORNING, 1/12
Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates says his new book about his time in Washington working for both President George W. Bush and Barack Obama was written as a "non-partisan" account of where the country stands today, he tells Rita Braver in an interview for CBS SUNDAY MORNING WITH CHARLES OSGOOD to be broadcast Jan. 12, 2014 (9:00 AM ET) on the CBS Television Network.
In his first TV interview about the book Gates tells Braver that people will take away what they want from the project. "And in a way, the way people are looking at the book reflects the polarization of our political process at this point," Gates says.
"My objective was to stand back and try to provide a non-partisan look at the kind of issues that have lived in our country and live in our government for the last number of years," he adds.
Gates' book, Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War, has already raised eyebrows for the timing of its release and his frank characterization of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden. Waiting until 2017 to weigh in didn't make sense, he says. In the book, Gates praises Obama for facing down opposition within his party, but he also criticizes the President for the way he handled U.S. troops.
"It's one thing to tell the troops that you support them, it's another to work at making them believe that you believe as president that their sacrifice is worth it. And that they must succeed," Gates tells Braver. "President Bush did that with the troops - when I was secretary. I did not see President Obama do that. It was this absence of passion, this absence of a conviction of the importance of success that - that disturbed me."
Gates also has some harsh words for Biden.
"I actually think I am in some areas complimentary of him," Gates tells Braver. "But where I had a particular problem with the Vice President was his encouragement of suspicion of the military and the senior military with the President. 'You can't trust these guys. They're going to try and jam you. They're going to try and box you in,' and so on. And that did disturb me a lot."
In a wide-ranging interview, Gates discusses his time in Washington, his frustration with getting anything done in politics, why he now lives north of Seattle, and his thoughts about the future presidential potential of Vice President Biden and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Gates also admits to Braver that while it was an incredible honor to be Secretary of Defense, he didn't really love the job. "I didn't enjoy it," Gates tells Braver. "There's nothing enjoyable about a job where you put men and women in harm's way for their country's sake."
He knew it was time to go, he tells Braver, when he felt his concern for troop safety might cloud his judgment. "I became very emotionally caught up with the troops, and it got to the point where I couldn't speak to them, or about them, without choking up, and that was another reason why I thought it was time to go."
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