Obama criticised on handling of Afghan war

2014-01-08 10:47
Former defence secretary Robert Gates. (Charles Dharapak, AP)

Former defence secretary Robert Gates. (Charles Dharapak, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Washington - Former defence secretary Robert Gates has delivered a scathing critique of President Barack Obama's handling of the war in Afghanistan in a revealing new memoir, US media reported on Tuesday.

In Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary of War, Gates recounts how Obama appeared to lack faith in a war strategy he had approved and in the commander he named to lead it, according to The New York Times and The Washington Post. He said the president also did not like Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

"As I sat there, I thought: the president doesn't trust his commander, can't stand Karzai, doesn't believe in his own strategy and doesn't consider the war to be his", Gates writes of a March 2011 meeting in the White House.

"For him, it's all about getting out."

'Plagued by doubt'

Having approved deploying more than 30 000 forces after an acrimonious White House debate, the US president seemed plagued by doubts and surrounded by civilian aides who sowed distrust with the military, Gates writes.

Obama was "sceptical if not outright convinced it would fail", Gates writes in the memoir, which is due to be released on 14 January.

In contrast to his subdued, even-keeled public demeanour as Pentagon chief, Gates strikes a sometimes bitter tone in his memoir.

The former CIA director whose career dates back to the Nixon administration voices frustration at the "controlling nature" of Obama's White House, which he says constantly, interfered in Pentagon affairs, even though civilian aides lacked an understanding of military operations.

The White House national security staff "took micromanagement and operational meddling to a new level", he writes, comparing the approach to the 1970s Nixon era.

Commitment

"All too early in the administration", Gates writes, "suspicion and distrust of senior military officers by senior White House officials, including the president and vice president became a big problem for me as I tried to manage the relationship between the commander-in-chief and his military leaders".

After a tense meeting on Afghanistan in September 2009, Gates says he came close to resigning because he was "deeply uneasy with the Obama White House's lack of appreciation from the top down of the uncertainties and unpredictability of war".

A statement from national security council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden later defended Obama's record on Afghanistan.

"It is well known that the president has been committed to achieving the mission of disrupting, dismantling and defeating al-Qaeda, while also ensuring that we have a clear plan for winding down the war", she said.

Hayden also hit back at Gates's assertion that Vice President Joe Biden had been "wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades".

"The president disagrees with secretary Gates's assessment. Joe Biden has been one of the leading statesmen of his time and has helped advance America's leadership in the world", she said.

A White House official separately defended Obama's record on both Afghanistan and Iraq.

"It's well known that as a matter of principle and sound policy, President Obama opposed going to war in the first place, opposed the surge of forces and then ended the war in Iraq as president. Any suggestion to the contrary is simply wrong", the official said.

On Afghanistan, the official said Obama "has always been firmly committed to the strategy that secretary Gates helped designed and that our troops have so ably carried out in Afghanistan, while also insisting that we have a clear plan to wind down the war".

'Dismaying'

Gates, however, gives credit to Obama for approving the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan, which he himself initially opposed.

It was "one of the most courageous decisions I had ever witnessed in the White House", the former Pentagon chief writes.

Although Gates heaps praise on former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, he is stunned by an exchange between Obama and Clinton in which the two openly admitted they opposed a troop surge in Iraq in 2007 for purely political reasons.

"To hear the two of them making these admissions, and in front of me, was as surprising as it was dismaying", he says.

Gates helped oversee the deployment of additional troops to Iraq during the Bush administration.

A Republican, Gates served under ex-president George W Bush and was asked to stay on at the Pentagon for two years after Obama entered office.

Read more on:    al-qaeda  |  hillary clinton  |  barack obama  |  robert gates  |  joe biden  |  us
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
9 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
SPONSORED CONTENT
5 crucial questions to ask before you take that job 2014-10-30 08:00

You choose your employer just as much as they choose you. Here are 5 of the most important things you should find out about a company before you sign up.

/News
 

10 facts about swimming you didn't know

This will make you want to jump right into the pool.

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

Snors with a cause - creating awareness of male health
Inspiring: Rock climbing with just one leg
Watch! Skateboarders racing cyclists
Exciting new zipline for Cape Town!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Save up to R2100 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

TV Series – 2 for R299

Loads of hot titles to choose from. Shop now!

Hot offer: Up to 50% off irons

Save up to 50% on all Philips irons. While stocks last. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be doing the work and playing the game, but your innovative mind is on a far away planet planning the next big thing....read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.