Geronimo, EKIA!

By Sunil Kumar

“Men sleep peacably at night because rough men stand ready to do violence for them”- George Orwell. My blog post for the day, review of “Duty: Memoirs of A Secretary At War” by Robert Gates, former U.S Secretary of Defense.

The interesting quote in the first line is by Orwell; the English creator of “Big Brother”; who incidentally was born in what are considered India’s badlands as well as the land of intellectual genesis; Motihari in Bihar. Reading this book; I could not help but admire the patriotism of the American; even though my heart is very much inspired by our tricolour.

Gates book touches upon his multiple years in the complex politics of Washington; Foggy Bottom; the U.S Capital created by their founding father. He has also touched upon the geopolitics of today; and the obvious duplicity of India’s estranged nemesis and next-door relative; Pakistan.

The Department of Defense; he informs us is the most complex bureaucratic organization in the world; with an annual budget of 700 billion dollars. He also comments on China’s conniving and intelligent military regime; which is slowly beefing up to become a formidable challenge to the United States(According to him; mostly in North East and South East Asia) for the time being. With the second largest economy and military budget; China is increasingly a bother and military planners in our country should be taking note; if they aren’t already.

America’s interest, suspicion and fear of China is also detailed in this book. As even Edward Snowden has revealed; the NSA had more than a passing interest in the dragon next door; and the Chinese have been no less in targeting the rest of the world from Beijing; if we were to completely believe Western media. The truth as always lies somewhere in between.

English: Official portrait of United States Se...

Visit English: Official portrait of United States Secretary of Defense Robert Gates Español: Retrato oficial de Secretario de Defensa de los Estados Unidos Robert Gates (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As an Indian; we have witnessed America’s blatant exhibition of self-interest more than once; along with its parsimonious and hypocritical approach when it comes to dealing with this country. Perhaps the mandarins in New Delhi are to blame for this state of affairs. The next government; of whichever denomination should be more assertive on the world stage; apart from handling the needs of the many in India; which are indeed a long litany of constant griping.

War as he reminds us; is a sordid brutal affair; even if some people somewhere believe it to be like an arcade video game. He comments on the American Presidents and their proclivity for a close coterie; and their dislike of the American Congress(sort of like the Lok Sabha) and dealing with people even of their own party. The tradition of stand-up comics poking fun at their incumbent leaders is picking up in the world’s largest democracy(us); but parties could learn a thing or two from their organized debate.

He also discusses the raid on Abbotabad; troop deployments around the world and another chronic American obsession; Russia. The book is replete with Yank military speak; Arlington, West Point etc; but comes across as an earnest account of his years within the echelons of the most powerful military setup in the world.


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