For John, BLUF: Not everything was happy in the early Obama Administration. Nothing to see here; just move along.
Over at The Washington Post, Ace Reporter Bob Woodward (of Watergate fame) uses the new book by former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War, to offer a harsh critique of Obama’s leadership in national security affairs. Read the whole Woodward article here. Here is the lede and following paragraph.
In a new memoir, former defense secretary Robert Gates unleashes harsh judgments about President Obama’s leadership and his commitment to the Afghanistan war, writing that by early 2010 he had concluded the president “doesn’t believe in his own strategy, and doesn’t consider the war to be his. For him, it’s all about getting out.”Mr Woodward quotes Mr Gates, regarding Afghanistan:
Leveling one of the more serious charges that a defense secretary could make against a commander in chief sending forces into combat, Gates asserts that Obama had more than doubts about the course he had charted in Afghanistan. The president was “skeptical if not outright convinced it would fail,” Gates writes in “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War.”
I never doubted Obama’s support for the troops, only his support for their mission.This is a sore point with many in uniform, since how can folks support the troops while sending them on a fool's errand. I have heard discussions of folks, active and retired, questioning how much real support there is from folks applauding in airports and like activities.
Gates acknowledges forthrightly in “Duty” that he did not reveal his dismay. “I never confronted Obama directly over what I (as well as [Hillary] Clinton, [then-CIA Director Leon] Panetta, and others) saw as the president’s determination that the White House tightly control every aspect of national security policy and even operations. His White House was by far the most centralized and controlling in national security of any I had seen since Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger ruled the roost.”"…the most centralized and controlling in national security" since President Nixon. Those are strong words. It is counterbalanced by the promise of transparency. One hopes the spinmeisters will be out explaining this.
I agree with those who believe it would have been better if this book had not appeared until late November of 2016. That said, Mr Gates is 70 and may have wished to get if off his chest while he was still young.
UPDATE: Added link and fixed typo.
Regards — Cliff