The White House on Tuesday pushed back at criticism from former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates directed at Vice President Joe Biden, saying that President Obama respected and valued the counsel from his number two.
“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,” said national security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden in a statement.
“President Obama relies on his good counsel every day,” she added.
Gates charged that Obama had “lost faith” in his own Afghan war strategy and that the Defense secretary was undermined by the president's aides, who placed political calculations above strategy concerns. He said that the political advisers took “micromanagement and operational meddling” to new levels.
But Gates’ toughest criticism was reserved for the vice president.
“I think he has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades,” Gates wrote in his memoir.
Hayden said that Obama respected Gates’ work in his administration, and downplayed the disagreements among his advisors over Afghanistan policy.
“The President deeply appreciates Bob Gates’ service as Secretary of Defense, and his lifetime of service to our country,” said Hayden.
“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.
Gates’ memoir will be released on January 14th.
“The President wishes Secretary Gates well as he recovers from his recent injury, and discusses his book,” Hayden added.
White House correspondent Brian Hughes contributed.