Bob Gates Slams Obama Administration Officials, Interventionism of Varying Ideological Stripes

bob's yourFormer Defense Secretary Robert Gates forthcoming
memoirs, Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War, don’t appear
to hold back on criticism of members of the Obama Administration in
which Gates served.  The Bush hold-over, who served under
every president since Richard Nixon, save Bill Clinton, writes that
President Obama himself didn’t seem all too interested in, or
convinced of, his own Afghanistan war policy.
Via Bob Woodward at the Washington Post

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.”

Obama, after months of contentious discussion with Gates and other
top advisers, deployed 30,000 more troops in a final push to
stabilize Afghanistan before a phased withdrawal beginning in
mid-2011. “I never doubted Obama’s support for the troops, only his
support for their mission,” Gates writes.

Gates also didn’t think Joe Biden was ever right.
Via the New York Times

Mr. Gates calls Mr. Biden “a man of integrity,” but
questions his judgment. “I think he has been wrong on nearly every
major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four
decades,” Mr. Gates writes.

On “experts” like Samatha Power, again via the

Gates says his instructions to the Pentagon were:
“Don’t give the White House staff and [national security staff] too
much information on the military options. They don’t understand it,
and ‘experts’ like Samantha Power will decide when we should move
militarily.” Power, then on the national security staff and now
U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has been a strong advocate
for humanitarian intervention.

In the excerpt in the Wall Street Journal, Gates
addresses the interventionist trend in the foreign policy

Today, too many ideologues call for U.S. force as the
first option rather than a last resort. On the left, we hear about
the “responsibility to protect” civilians to justify military
intervention in Libya, Syria, Sudan and elsewhere. On the right,
the failure to strike Syria or Iran is deemed an abdication of U.S.
leadership. And so the rest of the world sees the U.S. as a
militaristic country quick to launch planes, cruise missiles and
drones deep into sovereign countries or ungoverned spaces. There
are limits to what even the strongest and greatest nation on Earth
can do—and not every outrage, act of aggression, oppression or
crisis should elicit a U.S. military response.

This is particularly worth remembering as technology changes the
face of war. A button is pushed in Nevada, and seconds later a
pickup truck explodes in Mosul. A bomb destroys the targeted house
on the right and leaves the one on the left intact. For too many
people—including defense “experts,” members of Congress, executive
branch officials and ordinary citizens—war has become a kind of
videogame or action movie: bloodless, painless and odorless. But my
years at the Pentagon left me even more skeptical of systems
analysis, computer models, game theories or doctrines that suggest
that war is anything other than tragic, inefficient and

While still Defense Secretary in 2011, Gates was
already warning
the U.S. against finding itself in another land
war in Asia.

Gates also wrote in his memoirs that during his 2006
confirmation hearings, he wondered why he had decided to walk into
the “category 5 shit storm” that faced him as Defense Secretary,
writing that it would be “the first of many, many times I would sit
at the witness table thinking something very different from what I
was saying.”

Read an excerpt of the book, adapted for the Wall Street


I wrote about how interventionism hasn’t worked out well for the
U.S. in Iraq and elsewhere recently
just yesterday

from Hit & Run

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