Gates Memoir: Obama’s Insincere WarPosted: January 9, 2014
Rich Lowry writes: Robert Gates has roiled the Beltway with perhaps the least surprising bombshells ever to appear in a tell-all Washington memoir.
Did anyone believe that President Barack Obama was passionately committed to the Afghanistan war that he escalated at the same time he announced a withdrawal date?
Is there anyone who thought that Hillary Clinton in 2008 calibrated her position on the Iraq War based on the state of play in Anbar province rather than the Iowa caucuses?
Does anyone consider Vice President Joe Biden a thoughtful policy maven with a long history getting stuff right?
Before going any further, let’s stipulate that there’s something a little unseemly about the Gates book project. Gates has always seemed among the most old-school and stand-up of our political elites, yet even he reverted to the all-too-typical play of keeping notes for his memoir, to be published as soon as possible upon leaving office.
If what Gates tell us isn’t particularly new, it still packs a punch coming from such a highly placed, credible source. For Obama, Afghanistan is the insincere war. More than 1,500 troops have died there during his time in office—almost three times as many as under Bush —yet by early 2011 the president had lost whatever faith he had in the war, according to Gates.
In the telling of his former secretary of defense, Obama violated what should be the psychological Powell Doctrine: If you don’t believe in it, don’t fight it.
John Kerry famously asked during the Vietnam War: How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake? Now the secretary of state should pose a version of his long-ago rhetorical question to his boss. Obama evidently has been asking men to die for what he considers a mistake for years now.
As reported in the press, Gates describes a dawning realization at a March 2011 meeting in the situation room. “As I sat there,” he writes, “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. For him, it’s all about getting out.”
This is the war that the president and other Democrats had long hailed as “the good war.” He advocated for a surge in Afghanistan all during his first run for president.
Candidate Obama made the first item in his proposed “comprehensive strategy” in the war on terror, “getting out of Iraq and on to the right battlefield in Afghanistan and Pakistan.” He was explicit about sending more troops, saying we needed enough on the ground “so that we’re not just air-raiding villages and killing civilians, which is causing enormous problems there.”
- Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates hurt in fall (politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com)
- Robert Gates hurt in fall at home (kansas.com)
- Ex-Pentagon chief Bob Gates in neck brace after fall (politico.com)
- Robert Gates breaks vertebra, book tour at full steam (upi.com)
- Former Defense Secretary Recovering From Fall (huffingtonpost.com)
- The Art of the Escape (punditfromanotherplanet.com)
- Former U.S. Defense Secretary Gates recovering from fall (trust.org)
- Former defense secretary hurt in fall (wyff4.com)
- Rich Lowry: Obama quickly becoming adept at the art of escape (lacrossetribune.com)
- Robert Gates, former defense secretary, offers harsh critique of Obama’s leadership in ‘Duty’ – The Washington Post (punditfromanotherplanet.com)