Robert Gates may be the only CIA director or defense secretary who ever took part in peace demonstrations during the Vietnam War. In his 1996 memoir—the one nobody noticed—he says that in 1970, as a young CIA employee and Air Force veteran, he marched in Washington to protest the U.S. invasion of Cambodia.
"I and virtually all of my friends and acquaintances in CIA were opposed to the war and to any prolonged strategy for extracting us," he recalls, with no evident regret.
Gates has been a durable pillar of the U.S. national security apparatus, serving under eight presidents. Heading the Pentagon under George W. Bush and Barack Obama, he had the task of bringing success out of stalemate in military engagements someone else started, and he did his best. But under his hawkish exterior, writes Steve Chapman, the antiwar impulse has never gone away.