January 7, 2014

BELTWAY DRIVE-BY:

Obama Lost Faith in His Afghan Strategy, Book Asserts : In His New Memoir, Robert M. Gates, the Former Defense Secretary, Offers a Critique of the President (THOM SHANKER, January 7, 2014, NY Times)

In a new memoir, Mr. Gates, a Republican holdover from the Bush administration who served for two years under Mr. Obama, praises the president as a rigorous thinker who frequently made decisions "opposed by his political advisers or that would be unpopular with his fellow Democrats." But Mr. Gates says that by 2011, Mr. Obama began expressing his own criticism of the way his strategy in Afghanistan was playing out.

At a pivotal meeting in the situation room in March 2011, Mr. Gates said, Mr. Obama opened with a blast of frustration over his Afghan policy -- expressing doubts about Gen. David H. Petraeus, the commander he had chosen, and questioning whether he could do business with the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai.

"As I sat there, I thought: The president doesn't trust his commander, can't stand Karzai, doesn't believe in his own strategy and doesn't consider the war to be his," Mr. Gates writes. "For him, it's all about getting out." [...]

Mr. Gates calls Mr. Biden "a man of integrity," but he questions the vice president's judgment. "I think he has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades," Mr. Gates writes. [...]

Mr. Gates reveals the depth of Mr. Obama's concerns over leaks of classified information to news outlets, noting that within his first month in office, the new president said he wanted a criminal investigation into disclosures on Iran policy published by The New York Times.

Robert Gates, former defense secretary, offers harsh critique of Obama's leadership in 'Duty' (Bob Woodward, January 7, 2014, Washington Post)

Gates writes about Obama with an ambivalence that he does not resolve, praising him as "a man of personal integrity" even as he faults his leadership. Though the book simmers with disappointment in Obama, it reflects outright contempt for Vice President Joe Biden and many of Obama's top aides. [...]

He writes: "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."
Posted by at January 7, 2014 3:36 PM
  
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