Dere­lic­tion of ‘Duty’: Gates’ un­prin­ci­pled du­plic­ity

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary -

Only Wash­ing­ton could cre­ate a sleazy char­la­tan like Robert M. Gates and pass him off as some bi­par­ti­san ex­am­ple of com­pe­tence and honor. With his mem­oir out jus­ti­fi­ably slim­ing Pres­i­dent Obama, Vice Pres­i­dent Joseph R. Bi­den and for­mer Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton, Mr. Gates makes like a greasy, mange-patched rat scram­bling atop the float­ing de­bris of a sunken ship.

“I never doubted Obama’s sup­port for the troops,” Mr. Gates grandly writes, pos­tur­ing him­self as the mag­nan­i­mous cen­trist who passes for no­bil­ity only in Wash­ing­ton.

“Never doubted Obama’s sup­port for the troops, only his sup­port for their mis­sion.”

Holy cripes! How did this get past an ed­i­tor? Does the guy not have any friends to glance over his book to tell him what a treach­er­ous wretch he is for even think­ing such stu­pid­ity, let alone memo­ri­al­iz­ing it for­ever in a hard­cover book about him­self that he mod­estly ti­tled “Duty?”

I will tell you what duty is. Duty is get­ting out of high school and sign­ing up for the Marines be­cause you love your coun­try. Duty is the un­ques­tioned fol­low­ing of your or­ders and de­ploy­ing to Iraq or Afghanistan on a mis­sion to make Amer­ica safer. Duty is talk­ing with your wife and young, grow­ing fam­ily on Skype and keep­ing up­beat even though you will go on a mis­sion tomorrow morn­ing that very likely will get both of your legs and your right arm blown off.

Duty is be­ing that wife who sheds not a tear in front of her chil­dren but bawls through her prayers to God that night alone in bed to keep the fa­ther of her chil­dren safe for one more day. Duty is the mother who bravely ac­cepts the folded flag from her teenage son’s cas­ket in a frozen grave­yard. Duty is the fa­ther who searches around his in­tol­er­a­ble grief to grasp the pride he has for his only son who gave ev­ery last mea­sure on a bat­tle­field far, far away.

So tell us, Mr. Gates, how is it pos­si­ble for a com­man­der in chief to sup­port the troops but not their mis­sion?

Does he do this by keep­ing the troops in harm’s way to die for a cause he does not be­lieve is wor­thy? Does he sup­port the troops by send­ing over even more to die for this un­wor­thy cause?

I don’t like speak­ing for other peo­ple, es­pe­cially peo­ple who have wept, bled and died for my free­dom, but I am pretty sure the troops and their fam­i­lies don’t much care for that kind of “sup­port.”

You, like your com­man­der in chief, have a se­ri­ously warped no­tion of what sup­port means. Not to men­tion duty.

Sup­port would be to never send sol­diers to die for a mis­sion not worth dy­ing for. As sec­re­tary of de­fense and pres­i­dent of the United States, that would be your re­spon­si­bil­ity to de­ter­mine. Or “duty,” if you like. If they are dy­ing for some­thing you hon­estly be­lieve the com­man­der in chief does not be­lieve in, then you have a duty to quit and make known your grave con­cerns about such trea­sonous lead­er­ship.

Mr. Gates also re­veals Wash­ing­ton’s worst-kept se­cret of the past four decades: Mr. Bi­den has been wrong about ev­ery ma­jor for­eign pol­icy is­sue of his time. Such in­ep­ti­tude would get any­body fired from Macy’s shoe depart­ment. But in Wash­ing­ton, it makes Mr. Bi­den the reign­ing ex­pert on for­eign af­fairs and chair­man of the Se­nate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee for years.

Mr. Gates also smears Mrs. Clin­ton by re­lay­ing a con­ver­sa­tion she had with Mr. Obama in which both of them ac­knowl­edged that they op­posed send­ing re­in­force­ment troops to Iraq when the fight­ing grew par­tic­u­larly nasty be­cause they were afraid sup­port might hurt their po­lit­i­cal ca­reers.

Still, Mr. Gates de­clares that Mrs. Clin­ton would make a fine pres­i­dent. And, in an ef­fort to be “even-handed,” says so would Mr. Bi­den. Dear God, save Amer­ica!

Charles Hurt can be reached at and @charleshurt on Twit­ter.

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