In his forthcoming book, Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates describes the difficult relationship that he had with President Obama, Vice President Biden and many of the administration’s other top advisers. Gates kept a calm public demeanor while serving, as a Republican, so high up in a Democrat administration. But behind the scenes, he writes that he felt like he was “at war” with the rest of the administration.
Glenn Reynolds has pulled a quote from the book, in which Gates harshly critiques Obama’s war leadership. That quote deals with Obama’s ambivalence as he sent troops into combat in Afghanistan, a war the president only half-heartedly supported.
Here’s another, regarding how Obama and Hillary Clinton handled Iraq.
Gates offers a catalogue of various meetings, based in part on notes that he and his aides made at the time, including an exchange between Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton that he calls “remarkable.”
“Remarkable” is not always a compliment.
He writes: “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.”
That’s monstrous. Yet Gates goes on to describe Clinton in the glowing terms typical of a Washington insider.
The same cavalier attitude is playing out again, as Islamists sweep the Middle East and Iraq falls apart thanks to Obama’s premature retreat from the country, and he allows anti-war politics coupled with his own tilt toward some Islamist factions to drive his moves. Obama’s whole approach to the war against al Qaeda has been to claim victory while sounding retreat.
Gates’ book debuts January 14.