In a new memoir, former US defense secretary Robert Gates delivered bruising opinions about President Barack Obama’s leadership in the Afghanistan war. Gates said 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.”
In what the Washington Post called “one of the more serious charges that a defense secretary could make against a commander in chief sending forces into combat,” Gates observed that Obama was very pessimisic regarding his own strategy in Afghanistan. The president was “skeptical if not outright convinced it would fail,” Gates wrote in “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War.”
“I never doubted Obama’s support for the troops, only his support for their mission,” Gates explained.
Despite his criticism of Obama, he maintained that the president's chief Afghanistan policies were sound ones. “I believe Obama was right in each of these decisions,” Gates stated.
“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,” noted the Post, which also calls the book “highly emotional.”
In a statement Tuesday evening, National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said Obama “deeply appreciates Bob Gates’ service as Secretary of Defense, and his lifetime of service to our country.”
“As has always been the case, the President welcomes differences of view among his national security team, which broaden his options and enhance our policies,” Hayden said in the statement.