January 7, 2014

"People have no idea how much I detest this job," wrote former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

Quoted by Bob Woodward in "Robert Gates, former defense secretary, offers harsh critique of Obama’s leadership in 'Duty.'"
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....

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.
ADDED: Here's the NYT summary of the forthcoming memoir:
At a pivotal meeting in the situation room in March 2011, Mr. Gates said, Mr. Obama opened with a blast of frustration... “As I sat there, I thought: The president doesn’t trust his commander [Petraeus], 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.

He discloses that he almost quit after a dispute-filled meeting with these advisers over Afghan policy in September, 2009. “I was deeply uneasy with the Obama White House’s lack of appreciation — from the top down - of the uncertainties and unpredictability of war,” he recalls. “I came closer to resigning that day than at any other time in my tenure, though no one knew it.”
ADDED: You can buy the book here, at Amazon.

76 comments:

PB Reader said...

Amazing that Gates would have even a shred of positive things to say about Obama, given he admits he's a failure as a leader and a manager and can't pick good people.

Obama seems to exert a Jobsian reality distortion field.

jr565 said...

According to Gates Obama‘doesn’t believe in his own strategy, and doesn’t consider the war to be his. For him, it’s all about getting out.’”

Exactly.

YoungHegelian said...

After 5 years, it's finally starting to sink in even among the centrists & the lefties: this administration is full of incompetent assholes.

And they're not assholes because they're Democrats, they're assholes because, well, they're a toxic mixture of incompetence & narcissism.

TosaGuy said...

"“I never doubted Obama’s support for the troops, only his support for their mission,”

If the president doesn't support the mission, he does not support the troops.

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

If he doesn't support the mission then get them out instantly. How can he stand by while people die for something he doesn't believe in.

This "I support the troops not the mission" only works for those not in control. What a bunch of bullshit.

mccullough said...

Gates is a rare bird. Most important cabinet member in two different political administrations. It would be like serving as Treasury Secretary for Hoover and FDR.

EMD said...

Written by Gates' ghost writer, Ray Cist.

Sorun said...

Obama is:
“a man of personal integrity”
"a class act"
"well-spoken"
"clean and articulate"

paminwi said...

Goodness: what a great article.

It is always political for Obama & Hilary and they admitted it in front of Gates.

jr565 said...

If he doesn't support the mission then get them out instantly. How can he stand by while people die for something he doesn't believe in.


Not only didn't he get us right out of afghanistan he ESCALATED there.
how many people died gaining ground he's more than happy to cede to terrorists.
It's sickening.

jr565 said...

Couldnt the same thing be said for his entire ME policy?

Original Mike said...

"Obama seems to exert a Jobsian reality distortion field."

No one wants to be viewed as a racist. Thus, the obligatory “a man of personal integrity". Yet, even that's been blown out of the water by the willful lies to get ObamaCare passed.

There is less and less about this man that is redeeming. Please America, no more community organizers.

Chef Mojo said...

If the president doesn't support the mission, he does not support the troops.

This.

And for five years, Obama fed those troops into a meat grinder on a mission he neither supported nor believed in.

Chef Mojo said...

As far as Obama and Hillary opposing the Surge due to political opportunism? Is anybody really surprised after all this time?

Michael K said...

"Amazing that Gates would have even a shred of positive things to say about Obama, given he admits he's a failure as a leader and a manager and can't pick good people. "

All this fits with other criticism from Democrats who have said that Obama and his allies thought they could run the government from the White House. Too much watching "The West Wing."

jr565 said...

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.”

Of course.

mccullough said...

Obama's big problem was he called Afghanistan the good war to try and shore up his pro defense cred. It was always ridiculous that we spent any time in Afghanistan after overthrowing the Taliban. Afghanistan was as big a mistake as Iraq. Obama didn't have the guts or the experience to declare victory and withdraw the troops. He doubled down on stupidity with his Syria red line but at least came to his senses after enough Republicans gave a fuck no response. Samantha Powers and Susan Rice are no better than neocons. They are actually worse because they want to send US troops to get killed and to waste taxpayer money when there is no US interest at stake, especially when there is no oil. At least Obama is not listening to them.

Chef Mojo said...

And Joe Biden would do well to find a foreign funeral or two to attend after this book gets released next Tuesday. Evidently Gates does not go sparingly on his loathing for Biden.

The Drill SGT said...

My favorite Gate'ism doesn't come from the book:

According to an unnamed source, then Secretary of Defense Robert Gates left a meeting before the end, called for his car, drove to the White House, walked in without calling ahead and without an appointment.

SECDEF Gates then walked into the National Security Advisor’s, office, that of Tom Donilon. Regarding disclosures about the Usama bin Laden raid in Pakistan, Gates said “I have a new strategic communication approach to recommend.” Donilon asked what he recommended. Gates responded “Shut the Fuck up!”

exhelodrvr1 said...

Attempted character assassination of Gates to commence in 3 ... 2 ... 1 ...

The Drill SGT said...

Chef Mojo said...
Evidently Gates does not go sparingly on his loathing for Biden.


As in something like:

"Biden has been wrong on every major foreign policy or national security decision over the last 40 years"

:)

The Drill SGT said...

mccullough said...
Gates is a rare bird. Most important cabinet member in two different political administrations. It would be like serving as Treasury Secretary for Hoover and FDR.


It would be impossible to beat Stimson

- Sec War under Taft
- Gov. General of the PI under Coolidge
- Sec State under Hoover
- Sec War (again) under Roosevelt

spanning 1911-1945 at the highest levels

rehajm said...

A man of integrity = Bless his heart

Ann Althouse said...

"If the president doesn't support the mission, he does not support the troops."

It's the kind of support that is meant in the old slogan "Support the troops: Bring them home."

Ann Althouse said...

"Attempted character assassination of Gates to commence in 3 ... 2 ... 1 …"

There's a lot of pro-Hillary (and anti-Biden) stuff in there.

EDH said...

I can't wait to hear Andrew Sullivan's tortured take on this.

Spiros Pappas said...

Joe Biden once stated that partitioning Iraq would have ended the Iraq civil war. Kurdish, Sunni and Shi'te states would co-exist in a loose confederation that would share a common currency and army. He said this on "Meet the Press" years ago when he was running for President. I know any sort of partition would have recalled the excesses of European imperialism, but I now wonder if it would have been an ideal solution. In any event, Mr. Gates portrayal of Joe Biden as something of a buffoon is not altogether true. But Biden is dead wrong on Afghanistan. It's time to get out.

John Lynch said...

If the mission isn't worth it, then bring the troops home as soon as possible.

It's been five years.

Richard Dolan said...

The Dems won't care what Gates has to say, just as they don't care what any of the Bushies have to say. They will spin the story by claiming that Obama picked him to transition away from the Bush wars, and Gates' main gripe is that O-man did exactly that without being candid about it. The military might detest O-man for that, but they vote Rep anyway. The Dems won't care.

But assume for the argument that the accummulating negatives for Biden and Hillary! get the Dems to pass on both in '16 -- too old, too yesterday's news, just too too. The only other candidate who seems to be chasing the nomination is Brian Schweitzer. He would be an odd pick for the current, uber-lefty Dems, to be sure, but he would be an interesting choice -- almost a Palin-like choice for them. Imagine him against Christie, Jindal, Walker or any other Rep governor who ends up as the nominee.

exhelodrvr1 said...

Ann,
I was referring to how the MSM will address this.

gk1 said...

Wonder if Gate ponders how Obama and his aides leaked intelligence on how we got Osama Bin Laden and whether he would have prosecuted the leakers?

AJ Lynch said...

Just the first of many insiders who will write a book and throw the incompetent Obama under the bus.

David said...

"From the top down . . . "

There you have it.

Chef Mojo said...

Ace puts it very well at AoSHQ just now:

"Which is what is so galling. Men are being killed at three times the rate as they died under Bush's leadership, and Obama is not even trying to win.

Those men remain there out of political cowardice. Men are dying for Obama's political cowardice.

If he does not wish to fight the war-- then he should save those men's lives and bring them home."

cubanbob said...

"He discloses that he almost quit after a dispute-filled meeting with these advisers over Afghan policy in September, 2009. “I was deeply uneasy with the Obama White House’s lack of appreciation — from the top down - of the uncertainties and unpredictability of war,” he recalls. “I came closer to resigning that day than at any other time in my tenure, though no one knew it.”

He did the country no service by not resigning. Indeed had he done so and stated the reason why he may have done the nation a great service.

Steve said...

Obama is intentionally putting his military personnel in a war zone where he "doesn't believe in his own strategy and doesn't consider the war to be his." That is perhaps the most horrible thing I have ever heard about a president.

Integrity involves the courage of your convictions and pulling people out of a war you no longer believe in. The man is supposed to be the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. Men are dying because of his moral weakness. Say what you will about Bush and "warmongers on the right" but I don't know of anyone that cynical on the right.

In it to win it means nothing to Obama outside the political arena. "For him, it’s all about getting out.” Good then get the fuck out. Yammering around while men die is repulsive.

Chef Mojo said...

Attempted character assassination of Gates to commence in 3 ... 2 ... 1 …

Not character assassination, but legitimate criticism. Gates freely admits he did not speak up when he should have at crucial junctures. He freely admits to saying things to Congress that he didn't believe in. Gates is throwing out a bunch of mea culpas.

Steve said...

Prof. Althouse says, "It's the kind of support that is meant in the old slogan "Support the troops: Bring them home.""

That is morally vacuous when you do in fact have the power to bring those troops home. Hemp laden hippies get a pass for this sort of BS. Presidents of the United States certainly do not.

exhelodrvr1 said...

Chef,
That's a separate issue, and will probably be raised by some in the center and right.

The left will not, can not, let the criticism of Hillary and Obama stand, so they need to discredit Gates. Saying that he should have said something sooner strengthens his points, which they can't afford to do.

David said...

Winds of War is absolutely brilliant.

So sad, even at the beginning, because you know what's coming.

Nobody would even consider such a show now.

But wait a decade or so.

We may have new subject matter.

Rob said...

I'm not normally inclined to defend Obama and his WH staff, but Gates's idea that the Deputy National Security Adviser was out of line in suggesting to Gates that the head of the Southern Command was not competent to lead the effort seems just plain wrong, as does his notion that the President was not acting appropriately by finally wrapping up months of intra-service navel gazing when he told Gates he was going to request the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" the next day. Gates and his department were as much subject to supervision and control by the White House as any other department of government. How odd that after all his years in the Executive Branch he hadn't grokked that.

jacksonjay said...

If he doesn't support the mission then get them out instantly. How can he stand by while people die for something he doesn't believe in.

He needs to have at least two more Medal of Honor ceremonies. First Gay and first Woman Medal of Honor.

the wolf said...

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.

As a citizen, I'd rather the man completely lack integrity and get something right at least once in a while.

CStanley said...

Spiros @4:49:
That idea was DOA because it would have worked as well as the partition of Palestinians and Israelis. The three ethnic groups wouldn't exactly have agreed on how to divide up the land, especially the parts with vast oil reserves.

Diogenes of Sinope said...

Obama is despicable. What sort of person sends people into a war he does not believe in? How can the president commit troops to combat knowing many will die for a mission his heart is not in?

tomaig said...

Drill Sgt -

I'd have to say Donald Rumsfeld would rate as a close second to Henry Stimson...
From Rumsfeld's wikipedia page:

"Rumsfeld served as the 13th Secretary of Defense from 1975 to 1977 under President Gerald Ford, and as the 21st Secretary of Defense from 2001 to 2006 under President George W. Bush. He is both the youngest and the oldest person to have served as Secretary of Defense. Additionally, Rumsfeld was a four-term U.S. Congressman from Illinois (1962–1969), Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity (1969–1970), Counsellor to the President (1969–1973), the United States Permanent Representative to NATO (1973–1974), and White House Chief of Staff (1974–1975)."

Humperdink said...

"People have no ides how much I detest this job."

Sheesh, why didn't you quit halfwit.

I was mystified he took the job in the first place. It wasn't like he didn't have a clue regarding regarding Obummer's woeful foreign policy and military perspectives.

Plus, these after the fact books are gutless.

Birches said...

Another tale of Obama adviser's poisoning the well. . .

Gahrie said...

As a citizen, I'd rather the man completely lack integrity and get something right at least once in a while.

Nixon and Clinton over Carter? I could see that...

TosaGuy said...

"If the president doesn't support the mission, he does not support the troops."

It's the kind of support that is meant in the old slogan "Support the troops: Bring them home."

1/7/14, 4:46 PM

He has the power to bring them home and hasn't.

Livermoron said...

Why should he have quit? Do you really think that people and gravesites voting for Obama would care? A simple denial from Obama and Hillary and the LIV's would have swallowed it faster than Inga does sauerkraut.
He goes, toady replaces him and the situation deteriorates even more.

Cedarford said...

TosaGuy said...
"“I never doubted Obama’s support for the troops, only his support for their mission,”

If the president doesn't support the mission, he does not support the troops.

=====================
Sounds profound, but what Tosaguy said is utter garbage. If the mission is a disaster, if it is irretrievably flawed - you end "the mission" and get our military out of there. Especially given leadership changes and new leadership gets foolish, ill-conceived, counter-productive "missions" dumped in their lap. And the last thing new leaders should do is blindly plow on knowing the mission in question is not worth doing.

Humperdink said...

Maybe I am being naive here, but if I disagreed with my new boss on a host of issues, I would be catching the first swift boat out of town.

Gates clearly does need any additional fame or fortune.

Michael K said...

"If the mission is a disaster, if it is irretrievably flawed - you end "the mission" and get our military out of there."

We should have gotten out in 2010. Afghanistan is pointless and the casualties risk our volunteer military. Pakistan has a stranglehold on our logistics and that is another good reason to get out. Bush was right to leave this a small footprint war, like Kennedy might have done to Vietnam. A Special Forces theater.

Johnson did to Vietnam what Obama is doing to Afghanistan. The difference is that Vietnam was a draftee war, Democrats care as little about our volunteer military as they do about Duck Dynasty, and for much the same reasons.

Inga said...

Livermoran, I hate sour kraut.

a psychiatrist who learned from veterans said...

Kennedy didn't IMHO care about VN. He just was an ostensible 'hard ass' because, you know, the electorate seemed to want that. The Afghans are said, NY Times reports, doing a good job of holding Helmund province against Taliban opposition.

Inga said...

Cedarford is right, the mission is not worth doing. We are wasting our time, money and military there.

Chef Mojo said...

The Afghans are said, NY Times reports, doing a good job of holding Helmund province against Taliban opposition.

Of course the NY Times says that. They're giving Obama cover.

ARVN was doing well holding the NVA back after our withdrawal from RVN. At least until Congress cut off funding to them. Oh, well. Them's the breaks.

Chef Mojo said...

Oh. Hello, Inga.

Care to address the issue of your God Obama sending our men and women through the meat grinder for 5 years on a mission he neither believed on nor approved of?

That whole time your girl was in Afghanistan? Her life was being put at risk for political cowardice?

But, hey! Free healthcare!

Oh, wait...

Inga said...

Mojo,
"My God"? I didn't even vote for him in 2012, but whatever. I don't know why my daughter was there except that she was under orders to be there as were the rest . I certainly wish none of them had to have gone and I wish they weren't there now. That has always been my stance, it didn't change after Obama became president.

Bob Boyd said...

"Their different worldviews produced a rift that, at least for Gates, became personally wounding and impossible to repair."

This line describes Obama's relationship not only with Gates, but with the larger military, Congressional Republicans, numerous American allies, much of the business community and roughly half the citizens of the United States.
And the rifts are only widening, not healing, in the second term.

paul a'barge said...

Folks, please. Certainly Gates is right about Biden and Obama being consistently wrong.

But guess what? So has been Gates. Gates is the consummate neo-con. He is George Bush's water boy. He was Bush's water boy in the past and now because GWB has chosen to remain "above the fray", GWB is pushing Gates back onto the national stage to carry Bush's water (without Bush getting his "hands" dirty).

These people can't F' America enough. Stop listening to them. They are trying to convince you that you must choose between them and Obama. The choice at hand is not between the GWB neo-cons and Obama (no matter how bad Obama is).

The choice at hand is to discard both Obama and GWB and his neo-cons.

Death to the Republican Party
Long live the Tea Party.

jr565 said...

So the tea party is going to run as a separate party?Please don't caucus with republicans.

jr565 said...

So Paul what was your response to 9/11? Trade with Al Qaeda.

jr565 said...

So the choice is Michalel Moore and code pink or Paul and the tea party lefties? Where's the difference?

St. George said...

“I was deeply uneasy with the Obama White House’s lack of appreciation — from the top down - of the uncertainties and unpredictability of war.”

That is a sentence worth reading and re-reading and deeply contemplating.

The Secretary of Defense believed the President lacked an appreciation for the uncertainties and unpredictability of war.

Translation: God help us.

Annie said...

The Secretary of Defense believed the President lacked an appreciation for the uncertainties and unpredictability of war.

And yet he stayed in there and apparently said/counseled nothing until now to sell a book. Sacrificing how many lives for politics and to shine the turd that is Obama.

a psychiatrist who learned from veterans said...

@ Chief. Yeah, I gave the source as a caveat. Though you do take the larger point that, in spite of some poor presidential leadership, our military may work to a plausibly effective ending.

Hammond X Gritzkofe said...

I call B.S. on the book.

Gates, who describes his boss as honest but incompetent, will have us believe he remained out of loyalty and principle for years in a job he detested.

"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 dismaying but not surprising."

Fixed it for you, Bob.

Michael said...

Hammond X. Hemingway had a story title that explains it for you: A Way You Will Never Be.

Michael said...

Hammond X. Hemingway had a story title that explains it for you: A Way You Will Never Be.

Chuck said...

Obama picked Gates to remain as Secretary of Defense so as to insulate himself from the difficulty of war.

I think it is only fair that now Obama and Hillary pay a price for that insulation.

MadisonMan said...

Livermoran, I hate sour kraut.

Sauerkraut is only good with ketchup, on a brat.

Inga said...

OK, I'll eat sour kraut on a brat, with mustard (but ketchup?!) I'm a good Cheesehead afterall.

jr565 said...

"The Secretary of Defense believed the President lacked an appreciation for the uncertainties and unpredictability of war."
That's true for the vast majority of libs. They have a fundamental distrust, and hatred even of the military. Which is why you should never have a liberal commander in chief.
He is the commander in chief of the military. National defense is the primary function of govt. SUch defense is carried out by the military.

jr565 said...

By the way, if we want to get out of the Middle East, we need to ramp up production of energy at home.
Solar power is not feasible for the near future.
We are going to stay with fossil fuels. Fracking is the future and even the Saudis are acknowledging the threat.



"Saudi Arabia's Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, a billionaire businessman and nephew of Saudi King Abdullah, said the production of shale oil and natural gas in the United States and other countries, primarily done through fracking, is a real competitive threat to "any oil-producing country in the world," adding that Saudi Arabia must address the issue because it is a "matter of survival."

New shale oil discoveries "are threats to any oil-producing country in the world," said Prince Alwaleed in an interview with The Globe and Mail. "It is a pivot moment for any oil-producing country that has not diversified. Ninety-two percent of Saudi Arabia's annual budget comes from oil. Definitely it is a worry and a concern."


And of course, who is standng in the way of this? The liberals. So when people like Inga talk about how we need to remove ourselves from the region, they better have an answer for fuel production.
Tell your liberal friends to stop standing in the way of progress, for crying out loud.
Either we should be fracking or we should be getting fuel from allies and find a way to distance ourselves from a global oil market, so that we don't need to have use of the Strait of Hormuz.