Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates in a new memoir says that President Obama lost faith in his blueprint for Afghanistan, part of a blistering critique of the Obama administration from the one-time leader of the Pentagon.
In a 2011 situation room meeting, Obama raised doubts about Gen. David Petraeus' vision for Afghanistan and gave a pessimistic assessment of whether he could trust 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 in his new memoir, according to excerpts of the book made public Tuesday. “For him, it’s all about getting out.”
“I think he has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades,” Gates writes.
Gates is one of the most respected voices in Washington, having worked under eight different presidents. Gates served as the secretary of Defense for both Obama and George W. Bush and was director of the Central Intelligence Agency under George H.W. Bush.
Still, Gates praised Obama for making politically tough decisions that could have exposed the Commander in Chief to widespread criticism.
Gates called Obama's decision to order the raid on Osama bin Laden's Pakistani compound “one of the most courageous decisions I had ever witnessed in the White House.”
Gates' book, “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War,” also details the Pentagon chief's frustrations with a White House that “took micromanagement and operational meddling to a new level.”
Gates contends that the political staffers did not understand the “uncertainties and unpredictability of war.”
In fact, Gates reveals that he almost quit in Sept. 2009 because of such issues with Obama's top advisers.
The White House said they respected Gates’ service, but that Obama disagreed with his criticisms.
“The President deeply appreciates Bob Gates’ service as Secretary of Defense, and his lifetime of service to our country,” said National Security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden in a statement.
“Deliberations over our policy on Afghanistan have been widely reported on over the years, and 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, which will end this year,” she added. “As has always been the case, the President welcomes differences of view among his national security team, which broaden his options and enhance our policies. The President wishes Secretary Gates well as he recovers from his recent injury, and discusses his book.
Hayden also said Obama valued Biden’s advice, touting his role in the administration.
“The President disagrees with Secretary Gates’ assessment – from his leadership on the Balkans in the Senate, to his efforts to end the war in Iraq, Joe Biden has been one of the leading statesmen of his time, and has helped advance America’s leadership in the world,” she said. “President Obama relies on his good counsel every day.”
This story was published at 3:01 p.m. and has been updated.