For John, BLUF: The defenders of President Obama are out to get former SecDef Robert Gates. Nothing to see here; just move along.
Professor Juan Cole gives us a new word, "Gatesgate". It was bound to happen, and it did on Professor Cole's blog, Informed Comment.♠ The article is "Gatesgate: Why Obama was right to Distrust his Generals on Afghanistan".
Professor Cole is having a field day with a book, Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War, which he may not have yet read. Here he is with "Top Ten Things Bob Gates was Wrong about, Some Criminal". With regard to that item, just be happy you are (1) not in Mr Cole's sights and (2) not within 50 miles of DC in the last 30 years, otherwise you might find a "Top 10" list on you.
Back to the original article, it ends:
If anything, Obama could be faulted for giving the COIN (“counter-insurgency”) officers the benefit of the doubt and playing along with their completely unrealistic plans. He should have listened to Joe Biden, who has long experience in foreign policy and is most often right (unlike Gates). If Gates is right and Obama distrusted the generals pitching them and was skeptical of the strategy itself, it has to increase your estimation of Obama. Our estimation of Gates, in contrast, can only fall because of his disloyalty and his naive approach to Afghanistan.First off, to deal with Vice President Biden, his suggestion that we pull out and smack terrorists where they are would put us right back in Afghanistan, and this time again with a Government trying to defend its territory from our attacks. On the Vice President, Mr Gates is correct and Mr Cole wrong.
Mr Cole soft pedals the President's campaign embracing of the war in Afghanistan. If Afghanistan was the real war, as opposed to Iraq, then he needed a strategy and a plan of execution. Yes, there are those who are opposed to the concept of COIN, such as Army Colonel Gian P Gentile. On the other hand, Mr Cole has no alternative solution to the problem of Afghanistan. The thing that is strangest is that Mr Cole characterizes Mr Gates as disloyal, given the years of loyal service Mr Gates gave to President Obama. Would Mr Cole have been happy if Mr Gates had waited until 2017 to publish this book? How much loyalty does Mr Cole wish?
Again, I cite this blog post for the title, "Gatesgate".
Regards — Cliff
♠ I have my doubts if the blog is correctly named.