(Photo: Reuters/Jason Reed)
President Barack Obama's former secretary of defense, Robert Gates, accused the president of sending an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan while believing the plan would fail. This was just one of many startling revelations, including comments about Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden that could have consequences for the 2016 presidential race, in Gates' memoir, Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War, due out next week.
Obama "doesn't believe in his own strategy, and doesn't consider the war to be his. For him, it's all about getting out," Gates wrote.
During the 2008 election, Obama was critical of President George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq and argued that more military resources should have been devoted to Afghanistan instead. Bush "took the eye off the ball" in Afghanistan in order to invade Iraq, Obama accused at the time.
The early excerpts came from a lengthy Tuesday article by famed Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward, who has written two books critical of Obama's leadership. Woodward received an advance copy of the book, which will be available to the public on Jan. 14.
Gates also recalled sitting in on a conversation between Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who ran against Obama for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. Clinton told Obama, according to Gates, that she only opposed the "Iraq surge" in order to try to win the Iowa primary. Obama appeared to admit that he opposed the surge for similar reasons. Hearing the two admit to that while Gates was in the room "was as surprising as it was dismaying," he wrote.
Gates criticized Vice President Joe Biden for "aggressive, suspicious, and sometimes condescending and insulting questioning of our military leaders."
Both Biden and Clinton may run again for president in 2016. If so, Gates' accusations will likely be brought up again on the campaign trail.
In response to Gates' views on Biden, a White House spokesperson said Obama disagrees and called Biden "one of the leading statesmen of his time."
Gates was also critical of how Obama handled repealing the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays. Gates supported repealing the policy and had been working for months on a plan. But Gates felt "blindsided" when Obama told him he would announce the decision with only a one-day notice and before all the details had been worked out.
Gates is now president-elect of the Boy Scouts of America, which also recently changed its policy on gay members.
Conservative Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer was sharply critical of the revelation that Obama sent troops to battle while not believing in the necessity of the mission.
"He's sending 30,000 more troops in to battle. ... [Obama] doesn't believe in his own actions. ... How can a commander in chief, in good conscience, do that? ... This is an indictment of the president that rises above everything else he has done in his presidency," he said Tuesday on Fox News' "Special Report."
Writing for New Republic, a liberal publication, Isaac Chotiner, accuses Woodward of an "anti-Obama bias" in his coverage of Gates' book. While acknowledging that he has not read the book himself, Chotiner says that Woodward's account of the book's critique of Obama "feels more like Woodward's than Gates's."
The White House response to the accusations was that Obama "deeply appreciates Bob Gates' service as Secretary of Defense, and his lifetime of service to our country."
Gates was first appointed secretary of Defense for the last two years of the George W. Bush administration. Obama asked him to stay in the post to provide continuity while the U.S. was at war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Gates left the post in 2011. Except for Bill Clinton, he has served every president since Richard Nixon.