To absolutely no one’s surprise in Washington, former defense secretary Robert Gates, has written a scathing book that includes President Barack Obama’s major doubts about his decision to commit more troops to the war in Afghanistan.
Gates served from 2006-08 under former President George W. Bush and 2009-11 under President Obama. In his book he sharply criticizes Obama's approach to a number of defense-related issues, especially Afghanistan, according to a review of "Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War" in The Washington Post on Tuesday.
Gates vividly recalls a meeting in March, 2011 where he and Obama discussed a withdrawal timetable. Obama expressed his doubts about Gen. David Petraus, Gate’s handpicked general to lead the Afghanistan theater of operations.
Gates felt that President Obama often allowed his political advisers convince him otherwise on his thinking due to what they felt would be unpopular with Democrats.
Gates also describes Obama as "a man of personal integrity." He added that his relationship with Obama finally "produced a rift, that became personally wounding and impossible to repair," according to the Post.
Vice President Joe Biden became a personal nemesis of Gates who he said was "poisoning the well" against the U.S. military leadership; Tom Donilon, Obama's national security adviser; and Douglas Lute, the Army general who managed the Afghan policy, the Times reports.
He wrote, "I was deeply uneasy with the Obama White House's lack of appreciation, from the top down, of the uncertainties and unpredictability of war. I came closer to resigning that day than at any other time in my tenure."
He continued, "All too often during my 4½ years as secretary of defense, when I found myself sitting yet again at that witness table at yet another congressional hearing, I was tempted to stand up, slam the briefing book shut and quit on the spot. Over time, the broad dysfunction of today's Washington wore me down, especially as I tried to maintain a public posture of nonpartisan calm, reason and conciliation."
In another part of his book, Gates describes then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as "smart, idealistic but pragmatic, tough-minded, indefatigable, funny, a very valuable colleague, and a superb representative of the United States all over the world," according to the Post.
"Hillary told the president that her opposition to the 2007 surge in Iraq has been political because she was facing him in the Iowa primary. The president conceded vaguely that opposition to the Iraq surge had been political. To hear the two of them making these admissions, and in front of me, was as surprising as it was dismaying," Gates wrote.
He also said in his book that Clinton’s siding with Gates concerning Iraq and Afghanistan could come back to haunt her if she runs for the Democratic nomination for president in 2016.
So strong are Gate’s personal feelings about decisions he made concerning Iraq and Afghanistan, he plans to be buried in Arlington Cemetery's Section 60, the final resting place of many killed in Afghanistan and Iraq.
"The greatest honor possible would be to rest among my heroes for all eternity," he writes, according to the Times.
* If you have enjoyed this column, may I suggest you scroll down this page and press the SUBSCRIBE box? It's FREE. Thank you for your patronage.
** Send your comments to: email@example.com