60 Minutes – October 17 2021 – Robert Gates, Green River Drift & English Pubs

On Sunday October 17 2021 at 7:30pm ET/PT and 6:30pm CT, CBS broadcasts an episode of 60 Minutes featuring stories on former defense secretary Robert Gates, the Green River Drift – the longest-running cattle drive in America and the impact of COVID-19 on English pubs

Click on the link to read and watch each respective 60 Minutes CBS story, or scroll down for more details and to watch tonight’s (10/17/2021) episode of 60 Minutes.

Robert Gates

Few have served in as many security and intelligence positions and for so many presidents as Robert Gates. The former defense secretary during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq speaks to Anderson Cooper about several issues, including the Afghan pullout, the use of American military in foreign countries and the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol. Sarah Koch is the producer.

Robert Gates has seen a lot serving under eight presidents in a variety of security and intelligence roles. He was, in effect, running the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as defense secretary in the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Having been through all that, he says, watching the messy and bloody withdrawal from Afghanistan sickened him. His interview with Anderson Cooper, which touched on several other topics – including the rise of China and the limits of America’s military might. 

Gates says watching the withdrawal from Kabul on television over a few days made him feel ill. “It was really tough… I actually wasn’t feeling very well… And I was just so low about the way it had ended,” he says. “The other feeling that I had was that it probably did not need to have turned out that way.”

He blames both former President Trump and President Biden for the chaotic pullout that resulted in panic and deaths, including 13 American servicemembers killed by a suicide bomber, as well as the deaths of Afghan civilians. “Certainly the military considers withdrawal the most dangerous part of an operation. But they really had a lot of time to plan, beginning with the deal that President Trump cut with the Taliban… So that was in February of 2020,” Gates tells Cooper. He criticized Trump for not making a plan then, to remove Afghans who had worked for the U.S.   

He says President Biden should have begun evacuation when he said there would be a firm and complete pullout. “If you start with the notion that we’re pulling out entirely, I think you’d have to be pretty naïve not to assume things were going to go downhill once that withdrawal was complete.” 

Gates now believes the U.S. military’s ability to change a country’s political and cultural structure is limited. “I believe [you can’t change a country]. And I think… there are a handful of exceptions. Germany and Japan after World War II are examples. But we had essentially destroyed both countries. Total defeat,” says Gates. He used a crude quote from Winston Churchill to underscore how military interventions don’t change countries. “You know, one of my favorite quotes is from Churchill. ‘Democracy is not a harlot to be picked up in the street at the point of a Tommy gun.'” He says with a laugh, “And I totally believe that.”  

The Biden administration has a chance to do better and regain some of the approval and credibility the pullout cost it, says Gates. “I think that the submarine deal between the United States, United Kingdom and Australia, I think is a great strategic move. It sends a powerful message all around the world, including to China, that the United States still has a lot of arrows in the quiver. And that we will remain a force to be reckoned with in the Western Pacific.”

But the economic competition China presents also needs to be reckoned with, says Gates. “There’s another piece of this puzzle with China, and that is the economic side. Chinese now manage something like three dozen major ports around the world. They are the biggest trading partner of more than half of South America… they are everywhere. And what are we doing in these non-military arenas to compete with the Chinese?”

The Green River Drift

60 MINUTES cameras cover the longest-running cattle drive in America, begun 125 years ago and carried on today by the descendants of the original drivers. Bill Whitaker reports from Wyoming. Rome Hartman is the producer.

The horseback cattle drive is hard, dirty work, with riders hollering at mooing cows through a thick cloud of dust as they push them from one place to another. But the “Green River Drift” has changed from the way it looked 125 years ago when these Wyoming ranchers’ families began it.

There are no more chuck wagons or sleeping near the herd under the stars. And the money isn’t what they really do it for anymore. These ranchers continue the tradition to preserve an endangered way of life and honor the work of their ancestors by keeping America’s longest-running cattle drive going yet another year.

Albert Sommers is one of 11 ranchers who work together to drive more than 7,000 cattle through the Green River Valley south of Jackson Hole up to summer grazing grounds in higher elevations.

“It takes about 13 days from when we start to when we get up there where we want to be. We travel up to about 60 to 70 miles,” says Sommers. “My family has been doing this since about 1903.”

While the cattle are grazing in the mountains, the ranchers plant crops of hay on their home ranches that they will need to feed their cows over the long, cold winter. As soon as they feel the first frost of fall, the cattle know it’s time to head or “drift” back toward their ranches in the valley, hence the drive’s name.

Some 20 miles away from Sommers’ spread, Jeannie Lockwood joins the drive from her ranch.

“This was my granddad’s ranch. He homesteaded this in 1889,” Lockwood tells Whitaker. But today, she and all the other riders sleep in beds during the drive, rather than out on the range. They transport their horses to the cattle herds each morning at dawn for another day’s drive, taking their lunch on tailgates rather than from chuck wagons and returning home each night.

“We’ve got it easy,” says Lockwood.

Women like Lockwood are among the most important people on the Drift. This year, most of the “range riders,” who watch over the cows all summer in the mountains, are women. Lockwood tells Whitaker that she believes women make the best range riders, simply because “they’re hard workers.”

The ranchers are lucky if they make $50-per-head profit on their herds. Some have left better paying jobs to come back to the family ranch, so it’s decidedly not for the money, but to keep this Old West tradition alive and reap its spiritual rewards.

As Lockwood puts it, “If somebody says, you know, you’re a rich rancher, only rich in the fact that we get to do what we do and we live where we live and we get to see the sun come up over those mountains. That’s the rich part of this job, it’s not the money.”

Whither Ye Olde English Pub

The pandemic forced most English pubs to close for more than a year. The number of pubs was already in decline, and many wondered if COVID-19 would be their final death blow. When pubs re-opened last summer, Jon Wertheim toured these bastions of English culture to see what their future may look like. Michael Gavshon is the producer.

Wertheim speaks to the publicans behind the bar and their thirsty patrons to gauge the temperature of a beloved institution struggling to survive in a rapidly changing world.

For generations, the number of British pubs has been declining — from 65,000 to fewer than 50,000 — in the last 25 years. The causes of death are many: high beer duty, a smoking ban, cheap supermarket lager, people drinking less. Among the biggest culprits are venture capitalists and developers more interested in a pub’s real estate than what’s on tap.

Wertheim’s jaunt takes him to many traditional pubs, including Ye Olde Fighting Cocks in St Albans outside London, which claims to be the oldest pub in the country; Turner’s Old Star in London’s East End, one of the last of the so-called East End boozers; and the Bell Inn of Aldworth in Berkshire, which has been in the same family for more than 200 years. He also visits The Prince of Peckham in South London, where the Nigerian-born owner has taken the DNA of the traditional pub and updated it for 21st Century multicultural Britain.


The oldest and most-watched newsmagazine on television gets the real story on America’s most prevalent issues. CBS News correspondents contribute segments to each hourlong episode. Topics range from hard news coverage to politics, lifestyle, pop culture, business, health, and science. The correspondents and contributors include Sharyn Alfonsi, Anderson Cooper, Steve Kroft, Lara Logan, Norah O’Donnell, Scott Pelley, Charlie Rose, Lesley Stahl, Jon Wertheim, Oprah Winfrey and Bill Whitaker. 

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The oldest and most-watched newsmagazine on television gets the real story on America’s most prevalent issues. CBS News correspondents contribute segments to each hourlong episode. Topics range from hard news coverage to politics, lifestyle, pop culture, business, health, and science. The correspondents and contributors include Sharyn Alfonsi, Anderson Cooper, Steve Kroft, Lara Logan, Norah O’Donnell, Scott Pelley, Charlie Rose, Lesley Stahl, Jon Wertheim, Oprah Winfrey and Bill Whitaker.

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