From that point on I watched Gates with especial interest and dined with him from time to time. Anyone who thinks Gates lacks grit or an independent mind is mistaken. He was clear-headed on the Soviets and will be clear-headed on the Islamofascists. I well remember when he was drafting a speech in late 1989 or 1990 in which he presciently expressed doubt as to the effectiveness of General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev's reforms. Though the content of the speech was suppressed, it got into the public prints. And do you know who suppressed it? James Baker.
Gates, the first career CIA officer to become director of central intelligence, is a dedicated public servant. In his last months at the CIA, he used to speak of his relish for a quiet retirement outside Washington during which he might read and reflect on the world. He also gave me and Wlady the best explanation of why in Operation Desert Storm our forces did not roll into Baghdad. We underestimated Saddam's control of the country. We thought the regime would fall of its own weight. That estimate was wrong. If I recall the term Gates used, he said it turned out that the Saddam regime was a "mom and pop" regime tightly controlled by the tyrant's family. Obviously, Gates was right. Perhaps this explains why Bush II did not wait a second time for the defeated regime to fall.
Now Gates is back to serve the country and everyone should wish him well.