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Former defense secretary slams Obama's leadership, Biden's foreign policy chops

Robert Gates: Obama Doesn't Believe In His Own War Plan
WASHINGTON (AP) - The White House is bristling over former Defense Secretary Robert Gates' new memoir accusing President Barack Obama of showing too little enthusiasm for the U.S. war mission in Afghanistan and sharply criticizing Vice President Joe Biden's foreign policy instincts.

In a new book set for release next week by the publishing house Knopf, Gates writes that Biden is "a man of integrity," but also a political figure who has been "wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades."

Key passages of Gates' book, "Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary of War," were published in The Washington Post, New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

Gates, a Republican, also slammed the National Security Council under Obama's watch. The Republican cited what he called the "controlling nature" of the White House, writing that Obama's national security team "took micromanagement and operational meddling to a new level."

Such tell-all books are not new to Washington and they're woven into the city's cultural fabric. In the inside-the-Beltway political culture, they burst into view, make a splash on TV, online and in the press and quickly fade. But in the case of the Gates book, the White House chose to speak out quickly and sharply.

The National Security Council issued a statement late Tuesday asserting that Obama relies on Biden's "good counsel" every day and considers him "one of the leading statesmen of his time." Not only that, the White House issued a highly unusual invitation for news organization representatives to photograph Obama and Biden sitting together Wednesday at their weekly private luncheon. It was another sign that the president was not putting any distance between himself and Biden.

Former senior White House adviser David Axelrod said he was surprised when he heard about Gates' book. "He (Gates) always indicated he had a good working relationship with the president," Axelrod said on NBC's "Today" show.

In his memoir, Gates asserted that Obama showed a growing frustration with U.S. policy in Afghanistan.

"I never doubted Obama's support for the troops, only his support for their mission," Gates writes.

Obama approved the strategy of putting 30,000 additional troops into Afghanistan and placing Gen. David Petraeus in charge, even though some top advisers opposed the so-called surge he announced in December 2009.

In recalling a meeting in the situation room in March 2011, Gates writes: "As I sat there, I thought: The president doesn't trust his commander, can't stand (Afghan President Hamid) Karzai, doesn't believe in his own strategy and doesn't consider the war to be his. For him, it's all about getting out."

According to published reports about the book, Gates reveals he often found himself tempted to quit because of adversarial treatment he received from members of Congress. Gates served 4½ years as defense secretary, the last years of the George W. Bush administration and the first years of Obama's.

According to the published accounts of the book:

- Gates said that in private, members of Congress could be reasonable. "But when they went into an open hearing, and the little red light went on atop a television camera, it had the effect of a full moon on a werewolf."

- Gates recalls Obama and his secretary of state at the time, Hillary Rodham Clinton, discussing their opposition to Bush's 2007 surge of troops in Iraq. "Hillary told the president that her opposition to the 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."

- Gates at times criticizes the Bush administration as well as its successor. He holds the Bush administration, in which he also served as defense secretary, responsible for what he considered misguided policy that squandered the early victories in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to the Times.

- In praise of Obama, Gates calls the president's decision to order Navy SEALs to raid a house in Pakistan believed to be the hiding place of Osama bin Laden "one of the most courageous decisions I had ever witnessed in the White House."

Join the discussion

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sabirra January 09 2014 at 1:04 AM

Gates is a non political personI I suspect him of telling the facts as he witnessed them. The White House seems to play a hiding game on anything that is questioned. I think that the main media doesn't take a serious look at the Obama administration for fear of retribution which can be carried out in many ways. It seems that every operation has a political motive.

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splintercottage January 08 2014 at 10:05 AM

Clearly, Mr Obama can't control his Republican members of his cabinet. Have to assume Mr. Obama's adherence to an Abraham Lincoln repeat is less than workable.

The weakness as a "leader" is clear from day one. I can't fugure wheter bipartisanship or the good faith of insurance companies is stupid or niave.

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stanley t. January 08 2014 at 9:45 AM

nobody talks about his conversation with Joe and Hillery that discussed him.

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pasquamar January 08 2014 at 1:40 PM

It just goes to show MONEY trumps friendships in DC. Was that all just good acting on Gates part? I would love to ask Gates when did he think it was time to leave? How much American Blood, and money was enough? As an ole Vietnam Vet, I know, some wars are unwinnable, unless a Nuke is used. You can't change a person's fanatical religious beliefs, with our men on their soil.

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mager0sis January 08 2014 at 1:47 PM

why wait to reveal truths that hurt our great country?

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1 reply
Carol mager0sis January 08 2014 at 2:20 PM

Uh, excuse me, our country has already beeen hurt, just unknown to most. Gates is simply stating the facts in hopes of reining in the power hungry and malcontent

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michael January 08 2014 at 10:03 AM

Gates writes a book and spells it out. Maybe people will begin to open their eyes just a little bit as to what is really going on in Washington the past few years with Obama. But, I am sure whatever positive is in the book will be used by Obama for his political gain and anything negative in any way...well that's just a crazy lie. The entire book can't be wrong now can it. Obama has been up front and the most transparent president since...bwhahahahahahahaha...too funny.

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the902inc January 08 2014 at 1:17 PM

Well Gates is for sure correct about Biden! Biden is an idiot!

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1 reply
SuzieQ the902inc January 08 2014 at 2:44 PM

I cannot get the image of Biden during the VP debates, where he was rudely laughing and smirking, out of my head. What an idiot. Even High school debaters know better.

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Irishimpny January 08 2014 at 9:34 AM

I only reply to AOL stories. Never HP. Re this story. If Joe Biden is the man advising Obama on foreign policy now the poor decisions this administration are finally explained. Poor Joe hasn't the intellect to be advising anyone of anything except perhaps how to convince some dup that he is smart. He is the number one BS artist of this poor administration.

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razaminaz January 08 2014 at 10:40 AM

If the white house is in another damage control mode before the book even comes out this guy must have hit some raw nerves. And I can see any 2 politicians saying anything to get elected especially Obama and Clinton, between the 2 of them they can't defined the words truth or ethics.

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jgawlt January 08 2014 at 11:43 AM

If Joe Biden is "one of the leading statesmen of his time" it's only because he's being compared to the even more inept, Barrack Hussein Obama. Joe Biden is a laughing stock who doesn't have the sense to get out of his own way. But, compared with Obama, he's a shining example of superior intellect.

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