I was pretty shocked by the news that Donald Rumsfeld is resigning as Secretary of Defense, but that doesn't come close to matching my shock that his replacement could be current Texas A&M president and historian Robert M. Gates.
Gates received a master's in history from Indiana University in 1966 and his Ph.D. in Russian and Soviet history from Georgetown University in 1974. These are two high ranking history programs so I couldn't help but be a little impressed at these credentials.
His dissertation - SOVIET SINOLOGY: AN UNTAPPED SOURCE FOR KREMLIN VIEWS AND DISPUTES RELATING TO CONTEMPORARY EVENTS IN CHINA - is a weighty 306 pages long.
Although it doesn't look like he ever spent any real time in the classroom behind the lectern, I wonder if he will be the first 'academic' to serve as Secretary of Defense? There have been lots of academics who have held the Secretary of State job, but I can't think of any who have served in this capacity [although I'm going to go research it ASAP]. It should be interesting to see how someone like Gates can combine his practical experience from the CIA and other government positions, with his historical understanding of how the world operates.
Looks like I'll have to add another name to my list of famous historians if Gates is confirmed.