Robert M. Gates

Former Secretary of Defense
Robert M. Gates Crosscut Festival 2021

Session: The End of American Exceptionalism

6 p.m. Thursday, May 6

America is faced with a myriad of profound crisis; recovering from an uneven and often embarrassing response to the global pandemic, disorder with our traditional foreign allies, economic and political disarray at home, climate emergencies, unending wars in the middle east, the emergence of China as a true superpower that has invested and become indispensable to nations around the world, and unrelenting cyber attacks and hacks penetrating deep into our government’s most classified systems. All this has shaken our place as the exceptional nation. Robert Gates, Former Secretary of Defense for Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, has a unique perspective and strong opinions on how to navigate this tough terrain with more than just military might. Join us for this conversation with moderator Mary Kay Magistand.


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About Robert M. Gates

Robert M. Gates is the author of Duty, and A Passion for Leadership. He served as secretary of defense under presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. He was an officer in the United States Air Force and worked for the CIA before being appointed director of the agency. A member of the National Security Council staff in four administrations, he served eight presidents of both political parties. He was president of Texas A&M University from 2002 to 2006, is currently chancellor of the College of William & Mary, was national president of the Boy Scouts of America from 2014 to 2016, and has served on several corporate boards of directors. In 2018 he became chairman of Eisenhower Fellowships.


Find books from this author at Elliott Bay Book Co.




About Crosscut Festival 2021


Join journalists, politicians, authors, creators and newsmakers from our community and around the nation May 3-8, 2021 as we come together to take a hard look at the people, policy and events that shape our lives.


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Once you RSVP or purchase tickets, we’ll email you all the information you’ll need to attend the festival. 


Help shape our conversation!

Your submitted questions could help shape our conversations in May. We’ll accept questions until mid-April, then pass along popular and thought-provoking topics for moderators to potentially include in their scripts.