Robert M. Gates ran the Central Intelligence Agency for former president George H.W. Bush, and the Pentagon for both presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. On Friday, Feb. 26 at 2:00pm ET, Gates joins Washington Post columnist David Ignatius to discuss the pressing foreign policy priorities for the Biden administration, including the relationships with Russia, China and Iran.


Robert M. Gates says he believes President Biden releasing the U.S. intelligence report that concluded Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince approved the operation that led to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi “was a legitimate decision to make.” “I think the approach the administration has taken so far seems to be about the right balance.” (Washington Post Live)
Former U.S. secretary of defense Robert M. Gates says he believes the U.S. will have to maintain a presence in Afghanistan “for some time.” “If I were advising would be to convey the signal that we might end up having to have a presence there on the ground — on a very low level…for an indefinite period of time.” (Washington Post Live)
Former U.S. secretary of defense Robert M. Gates says the Republican Party is becoming more blue collar while the Democratic Part become a party of the suburbs and urban areas. “There’s a big issue here that goes beyond President Trump and sort of the fate of the Republican Party. I think both parties face some big challenges, and that is how do both of them take into account the concerns, among other things, of those 73 million people that voted for President Trump last November.” (Washington Post Live)
When asked if there should more limitations around what members of the military can post online, former U.S. secretary of defense Robert M. Gates said, “It’s a tough decision in terms of where do you maintain good order and discipline and unit cohesion and where do you begin to infringe on a soldier’s individual First Amendment rights to speak his mind." (Washington Post Live)
Former U.S. secretary of defense Robert M. Gates says, “Russia is going to be a challenge for the United States, a national security challenge for the United States — and maybe in some respects the most dangerous one — for as long as Putin is there.” (Washington Post Live)

Robert M. Gates

Robert Gates served as the 22nd secretary of defense (2006-2011). He is the only secretary of defense in U.S. history to be asked to remain in office by a newly elected President. Dr. Gates served eight U.S. presidents across both parties.

On Gates’s last day in office, President Barack Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor.

Before becoming secretary of defense in 2006, Gates was the president of Texas A&M University, one of the nation’s largest universities. Prior to assuming the Texas A&M presidency on August 1, 2002, he served as interim dean of the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M from 1999 to 2001.

Gates joined the Central Intelligence Agency in 1966 and spent nearly 27 years as an intelligence professional. During that period, he spent nearly nine years on the National Security Council at the White House, serving four presidents of both political parties. Gates served as director of Central Intelligence from 1991 until 1993. He is the only career officer in CIA’s history to rise from entry-level employee to director. He served as deputy director of Central Intelligence from 1986 until 1989 and as assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser at the White House from January 20, 1989 until November 6, 1991, for President George H.W. Bush.

Gates has been awarded the National Security Medal, the Presidential Citizens Medal, has three times received the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, and has three times received CIA’s highest award, the Distinguished Intelligence Medal.

He is the author of four books, Exercise of Power: American Failures, Successes, and a New Path Forward in the Post-Cold War World, published in 2020, A Passion For Leadership: Lessons on Change and Reform from Fifty Years of Public Service, published in 2016, Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War, published in 2014, and From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insider’s Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War, published in 1996.

Gates currently is a partner in the consulting firm, Rice, Hadley, Gates & Manuel, LLC, with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley. He is a member of the NCAA Board of Governors, currently serving as one of its five independent members. Additionally, he is a member of the national executive board of the Boy Scouts of America, where he served as president of the National Eagle Scout Association from 1996-2006 and National President of the Boy Scouts of America from 2014-2016. He has also served on the board of directors of Starbucks, the board of directors and executive committee of the American Council on Education, the board of directors of the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges.

A native of Kansas, Gates received his bachelor’s degree from William & Mary, his master’s degree in history from Indiana University, and his doctorate in Russian and Soviet history from Georgetown University. In 1967, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force and served as an intelligence officer at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri.

In February 2012, Gates was installed as chancellor of William & Mary. He is the first William & Mary alumnus in the modern era to serve as chancellor. In May of 2018, Gates succeeded General Colin Powell as National Chairman of the Eisenhower Fellowships.