Robert Gates, former defense secretary, offers harsh critique of Obama’s leadership in ‘Duty’


#1

In a new memoir, former defense secretary Robert Gates unleashes harsh judgments about President Obama’s leadership and his commitment to the Afghanistan war, writing that by early 2010 he had concluded the president “doesn’t believe in his own strategy, and doesn’t consider the war to be his. For him, it’s all about getting out.”

Leveling one of the more serious charges that a defense secretary could make against a commander in chief sending forces into combat, Gates asserts that Obama had more than doubts about the course he had charted in Afghanistan. The president was “skeptical if not outright convinced it would fail,” Gates writes in “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War.”

Obama, after months of contentious discussion with Gates and other top advisers, deployed 30,000 more troops in a final push to stabilize Afghanistan before a phased withdrawal beginning in mid-2011. “I never doubted Obama’s support for the troops, only his support for their mission,” Gates writes.

As a candidate, Obama had made plain his opposition to the 2003 Iraq invasion while embracing the Afghanistan war as a necessary response to the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, requiring even more military resources to succeed. In Gates’s highly emotional account, Obama remains uncomfortable with the inherited wars and distrustful of the military that is providing him options. Their different worldviews produced a rift that, at least for Gates, became personally wounding and impossible to repair.

It is rare for a former Cabinet member, let alone a defense secretary occupying a central position in the chain of command, to publish such an antagonistic portrait of a sitting president.

washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/robert-gates-former-defense-secretary-offers-harsh-critique-of-obamas-leadership-in-duty/2014/01/07/6a6915b2-77cb-11e3-b1c5-739e63e9c9a7_print.html

quotesPost[LEFT] a separate exchange in the book between Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, where they discussed their opposition to the 2007 Iraq surge in the context of politics. “Hillary told the president that her opposition to the [2007] surge in Iraq had 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.”

Read more: Gates Slams Biden in Memoir, Reveals He Nearly Quit | TIME.com swampland.time.com/2014/01/07/in-memoir-gates-slams-biden-reveals-he-nearly-quit/#ixzz2pkeaTTRg[/LEFT]


#2

It is odd how well Hilary Clinton is polling among Democrats considering her vote for the Iraq war. In 2007/2008 Barack Obama would point out that he voted against the war and that may have helped him win the nomination over Hillary Clinton.

How Bob Gates’s memoir could haunt Hillary in 2016


#3

If it was such a problem you'd think he'd resign and not pretend everything was fine until he could write a book.


#4

From the article:

Gates’s severe criticism is even more surprising — some might say contradictory — because toward the end of “Duty,” he says of Obama’s chief Afghanistan policies, “I believe Obama was right in each of these decisions.


#5

But that’s not Gates’ point. Rather, it is that he thinks Obama did the right thing despite Obama being “skeptical if not outright convinced it [mission in Afghanistan] would fail.”


#6

foxnewsinsider.com/2014/01/07/veteran-and-congressman-duncan-hunter-slams-obamas-abandonment-iraq

All those who died there, how horrible for them.


#7

For years I have believed Obama's decision to abandon Iraq would result in it being a battleground between radical Sunni militants and Iran. And so it has become. We left the Sunni leaders with no protector other than AQ. What a terrible shame.

I share Obama's belief that Af/Pak will fail in the end. Believing that, as I do, I would have withdrawn our people from there as a matter of human decency. Obama chose to do otherwise. In some ways, Af/Pak is Vietnam all over again. I remember when it became apparent to anyone who informed himself that this country was going to leave Vietnam to the North Vietnamese. Yet, even after the decision was made, the pretense went on that we weren't. And a lot of people died because of that pretense.


#8

[quote="Ridgerunner, post:7, topic:350707"]
In some ways, Af/Pak is Vietnam all over again.

[/quote]

One enormous difference is that there's no draft this time around. And Afghanistan doesn't seem to have any impact whatsoever on our collective national consciousness, no matter how long we stay there, rightly or wrongly. I don't feel any more enlightened as to how things are going there or whether it's a good idea to stay than I did five years ago. And to judge by the commercials I see on tv and other media and the frequent salutes to soldiers before sporting events, our country is as patriotic as ever, unlike during the Vietnam War. In short I just don't see the Afghanistan operation dividing our country.

The situation there appears to be a stalemate. I think the Taliban are biding their time from their bases on the sidelines, predicting (probably correctly) that we won't stay there forever.


#9

Oh, I agree this is different from Vietnam when it comes to public support, at least of the troops.

The comparison I was trying to make is in sending soldiers to risk life and limb in a war the administration has already decided to abandon.


#10

Gotcha.


#11

[quote="Ridgerunner, post:9, topic:350707"]
Oh, I agree this is different from Vietnam when it comes to public support, at least of the troops.

The comparison I was trying to make is in sending soldiers to risk life and limb in a war the administration has already decided to abandon.

[/quote]

It really is sickening to think about.

Though in regards to Vietnam, the other** White House tapes** may demonstrate some may have even disrupted peace talks (for election purposes) -- while many troops were risking life and limb.


#12

[quote="M-Dent, post:11, topic:350707"]
It really is sickening to think about.

Though in regards to Vietnam, the other** White House tapes** may demonstrate some may have even disrupted peace talks (for election purposes) -- while many troops were risking life and limb.

[/quote]

Hard to know about peace talks in 1968. It was despicable in a way for Nixon to interfere with pre-talk negotiations. But if he really intended to prevail and was trying to prevent Johnson from giving it away, perhaps not as bad as it first seems.

But in the end, of course, Nixon cut and ran even so.


#13

it is too bad he didn't say something and go ahead and resign and give his reasons.

what was his problem with biden?


#14

I have a feeling what you see in the book is about all the controversy there is in the over 600 page book. In other words; not much of a kiss and tell book.


#15

It’s been reported over here too, but with a different focus. Apparently Gates fell asleep during a long winded talk about Australian history by former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, and they couldn’t wake him up again. It seems Gates American staff had some fun over the event.

Rudd wasn’t very worried about it, as Gates had been doped up on pain killers at the time for a broken shoulder, had jet lag and was just plain tired.

Which leaves the 64 dollar question - was it our history that was boring, or Kevin Rudd?


#16

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