Robert Gates: Public Servant

When President Obama asked Defense Secretary Robert Gates to stay at his post, Gates made clear he would do so out of a sense of public duty, not an affinity for Washington D.C.

What's the Latest Development?


Defense Secretary Robert Gates is retiring after presiding over the country's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, first as head of the C.I.A. During his exit, he has been candid about controversies like the war in Iraq and the future of N.A.T.O. "Gates was liked for his willingness to say what was obvious but was, vexingly, often left unsaid by Washington politicos—at least publicly. More notably, he seemed open to being on the receiving end of candor, too." Once asked if the U.S. was winning the war in Iraq, he said simply, "No".

What's the Big Idea?

What will Gates be remembered for and what sensitive issues does he leave for his replacement to confront? Certainly the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and certainly the future of N.A.T.O. cohesion. During his tenure as Defense Secretary, Gates was known for his strict accountability: "He made it clear that accountability is not just for the junior ranks, but also for senior officials. In the wake of the Walter Reed scandal, Gates fired the Army surgeon general, the commander of the hospital, and the Secretary of the Army..."

Related Articles

Scientists discover what caused the worst mass extinction ever

How a cataclysm worse than what killed the dinosaurs destroyed 90 percent of all life on Earth.

Credit: Ron Miller
Surprising Science

While the demise of the dinosaurs gets more attention as far as mass extinctions go, an even more disastrous event called "the Great Dying” or the “End-Permian Extinction” happened on Earth prior to that. Now scientists discovered how this cataclysm, which took place about 250 million years ago, managed to kill off more than 90 percent of all life on the planet.

Keep reading Show less

Why we're so self-critical of ourselves after meeting someone new

A new study discovers the “liking gap” — the difference between how we view others we’re meeting for the first time, and the way we think they’re seeing us.

New acquaintances probably like you more than you think. (Photo by Simone Joyner/Getty Images)
Surprising Science

We tend to be defensive socially. When we meet new people, we’re often concerned with how we’re coming off. Our anxiety causes us to be so concerned with the impression we’re creating that we fail to notice that the same is true of the other person as well. A new study led by Erica J. Boothby, published on September 5 in Psychological Science, reveals how people tend to like us more in first encounters than we’d ever suspect.

Keep reading Show less

NASA launches ICESat-2 into orbit to track ice changes in Antarctica and Greenland

Using advanced laser technology, scientists at NASA will track global changes in ice with greater accuracy.

Firing three pairs of laser beams 10,000 times per second, the ICESat-2 satellite will measure how long it takes for faint reflections to bounce back from ground and sea ice, allowing scientists to measure the thickness, elevation and extent of global ice
popular

Leaving from Vandenberg Air Force base in California this coming Saturday, at 8:46 a.m. ET, the Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite-2 — or, the "ICESat-2" — is perched atop a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket, and when it assumes its orbit, it will study ice layers at Earth's poles, using its only payload, the Advance Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS).

Keep reading Show less