Gates: I Ended Up Giving History Lessons in the Situation Room

Robert Gates is among the most trusted men in America today. The liberal-friendly blogosphere loves citing him as an authoritative critic of the GOP primary candidates and would leap at the slightest hint he was criticizin…

  1. flownover

     Gates is a trooper, no denying that. I end up scratching my head as I try to ennumerate the successes of the CIA. Is anything expected of them ? If you have any insight I welcome it. Imagine working for Bush and Obama, only 25 years in the Company and the Puzzle Palace could prepare one for that.

    Will the world ever know how much trembling was going on in the Situation Room as they watched OBL get it ? Naifs

  2. Tristan Abbey

    No doubt his time at CIA made him quite the survivor. ;-)

    I think the CIA’s record isn’t as bad as it’s often made out to be. They did a pretty good job on the fall of the Soviet Union, despite some popular opinion to the contrary, and performed respectably during the Vietnam War.

    But as far as his comments on history, you would never know he felt this way from the way CNN et al portray him.

  3. Cunctator

     Great post thanks!  VDH for a cabinet position!

  4. Pseudodionysius

    Main Feed bump.

  5. Brian Clendinen

     

     Yes but a lot depends on what is taught and how it is taught but more importantly what is intentional leftout when it comes to history. Just because you have a history degree does not mean you understand historical lessons correctly. On the languages and the arts, I don’t know. Do the Arts lead to civilization or does civilization which leads to wealth produce art. I think arts results from an increase in wealth more than anything else. On languages I agree. There is something to be said about a classical education, which is what he is really saying.

  6. James Gawron

    Tristan,

    This is a very important post.  An honest and honorable man with immense practical experience has revealed the incredible stupidity of the Obama Crowd.  He has said in so many words that the Obama Crowd’s real mindset is infantile.  They simply don’t possess the deep context it takes to make good judgements.  That he said he had to give a History lesson every time he entered the Situaion Room tells all.  These are very limited people who should not be allowed near the Situation Room much less be making major decisions there. 

    Why don’t you contact VDH and get his take on this.  That would also be very interesting.

    Regards,

    Jim

  7. DocJay

    Gentlemen, they’ll be no awkwardness in the situation room. Great video Tristan as it speaks volumes as to the incompetence of the current regime.

  8. Aaron Miller

    A human being is incomplete without both logic and emotions. Logic tells us what to do and emotions drive us to do it. One focuses on facts and the other on meaning.

    Likewise, both the sciences and the arts are vital to society. Both study the world and inform us, but in different ways. Like emotions, the arts inspire us to act on what we know and help us to understand the less quantifiable aspects of life.

    History exists in a grey area between science and art. The word “story” is in there for a reason. Facts alone do not provide understanding. Information must be qualified, ordered, compared and so on before we can draw lessons from it. How one selects, considers and presents information makes all the difference in the world.

    The Left’s affection for Gates is not founded on his abilities or experience. It’s based on his conclusions. When he says things they like, they will praise him. When he says things they abhor, they will curse him as a snake.

  9. F. L. Booth

    Hold on there, we best start at the beginning, without the hard sciences there would be NO civilization, hunting and agriculture were the beginning of “hard science” if you will. The soft sciences that make life pleasurable are not in fact part of the economic machine as part of the creation of wealth, in the economic sense of the term, they are assuredly part of the economic multiplier by spreading wealth around, but not creating it.

    You can debate Adam Smith all you like but until wealth is created, and a survival based method of exchange is created you don’t get around to anything soft.

     Every dollar in the economic machine can be traced back to creation of wealth, not the amassing of it. Agriculture, value added manufacturing, energy production are the most prevalent, technology complicates the picture but as an example software, and yes Microsoft, is not related to creating wealth, only amassing it, as are the markets themselves.

  10. David Williamson

    It would be interesting to know what Mr Obama’s history grades were…. oh, wait…

  11. John Walker
    Gates is asked for his views on the debate between soft and hard majors in universities. He replies: “Our civilization is not a civilization because of our technology. It is because of languages and the arts, knowledge of our history….”

    Well, as we engineers say, wrong!  Our civilisation is a civilisation precisely because of technologies: take away agriculture, animal husbandry, extrasomatic information storage and transfer (oral traditions and writing), fire and its applications, domestication of animals for transportation and work, projectile weapons, and many other innovations millennia before what we call our “technological age” and you don’t have any civilisation at all.

    Yes, nobody disputes that a knowledge of history is important, and that all too many “policy professionals” are next to clueless when it comes even to history of the last century.  But at the same time, I’ll wager your average technologist knows far more history than senior policy makers know about the second law of thermodynamics or control theory, both of which have profound implications for so many of their schemes.

  12. Lucy Pevensie
    Brian Clendinen:  

     Yes but a lot depends on what is taught and how it is taught but more importantly what is intentional leftout when it comes to history. Just because you have a history degree does not mean you understand historical lessons correctly. 

    . . .

     There is something to be said about a classical education, which is what he is really saying.

    Precisely.   We’re all probably much better off without what passes for liberal arts education in the modern university. 

  13. Tristan Abbey
    Lucy Pevensie

    Precisely.   We’re all probably much better off without what passes for liberal arts education in the modern university.  · 1 minute ago

    Ronald Reagan, 1986: “Certainly the existence of strong music and fine arts curricula is important to keeping the humanities truly humanizing and the liberal arts truly liberating.”

  14. ctlaw
    Yes, nobody disputes that a knowledge of history is important, and that all too many “policy professionals” are next to clueless when it comes even to history of the last century.  But at the same time, I’ll wager your average technologist knows far more history than senior policy makers know about the second law of thermodynamics or control theory, both of which have profound implications for so many of their schemes. 

    Even moreso, your average technologist may know more world history than the average person with a degree in a field that did not exist in 1950.

    The bigger controversy should be between rigorous and non-rigorous educational programs. The problem is that a huge chunk of the nominally educated left has neither technical nor historical knowledge.

  15. F. L. Booth
    John Walker

    Gates is asked for his views on the debate between soft and hard majors in universities. He replies: “Our civilization is not a civilization because of our technology. It is because of languages and the arts, knowledge of our history….”

    Well, as we engineers say, wrong!  Our civilisation is a civilisation precisely because of technologies: 

    100% Correct. Gates sounds exactly like what he is, a history graduate who then became a cop, spy if you will. Perhaps if he had ever created anything, or had to meet a payroll, his perspective as critic might be a bit different.

  16. Tristan Abbey
    ctlaw

    Even moreso, your average technologist may know more world history than the average person with a degree in a field that did not exist in 1950.

    Ronald Reagan in 1985:

    Q. Mr. President, I’d like to know what you see as the value of a liberal arts education in today’s fast-moving, increasingly high-tech society.

    The President. Well, I have one myself, and I’ve been trying to figure how it set me back. No, I’ll tell you, I believe very much in it. I think it is the basis, and I deplore the tendency in some places, in some institutions, to go directly toward training for a trade or profession or something and ignoring the liberal arts. I think it is the foundation of education — a good, round liberal arts training.

  17. Hang On

    Serious question: What does anybody in the Obama administration know about the hard sciences?

  18. Astonishing

    Gates says one reason he left was because he had to teach history. Hmmm? If true, that sad circumstance should have counted as a reaon not for leaving, but for staying. A man who loves his country wants to offer his knowledge, experience, and abilities to help decisionmakers whose own knowledge, experience and abilities are lacking.

    It’s wrong–crass, ignoble, unseemly–for former officials to direct such criticisms at an administration they worked in. It’s okay honestly to criticize policy of one’s former employer, but even policy critiques should be expressed with as much restraint as is possible. It is out of bounds openly to criticize the people one worked with on grounds of personality, knowledge, ability, etc. Our system would function so much better if former administration officials of every stripe avoided these “tabloid” critiques, which add greatly to the distrust, back-biting, careerism, etc. of which politics has quite enough by nature.

    One is never impressed by a gasbag who goes around hinting that he was the only smart guy in the room. That Gates would speak so indiscreetly makes me distrust whether had the right character for the sensitive posts he held.

  19. ctlaw
    Tristan Abbey

    ctlaw

    Even moreso, your average technologist may know more world history than the average person with a degree in a field that did not exist in 1950.

    Ronald Reagan in 1985:

    Q. Mr. President, I’d like to know what you see as the value of a liberal arts education in today’s fast-moving, increasingly high-tech society.

    The President. Well, I have one myself, and I’ve been trying to figure how it set me back. No, I’ll tell you, I believe very much in it. I think it is the basis, and I deplore the tendency in some places, in some institutions, to go directly toward training for a trade or profession or something and ignoring the liberal arts. I think it is the foundation of education — a good, round liberal arts training. · 48 minutes ago

    By definition, Reagan’s degree was in a field that existed before 1950 and likely had some educational rigor. I doubt that Eureka College would have given any credit for attending the 1930′s equivalent of OWS.

  20. Tristan Abbey

    Did you even watch the video, Astonishing?

Want to comment on stories like these? Become a member today!

You'll have access to:

  • All Ricochet articles, posts and podcasts.
  • The conversation amongst our members.
  • The opportunity share your Ricochet experiences.

Join Today!

Already a Member? Sign In