In the forefront of Washington battles, the White House is stepping up to defend itself from the rhetorical punches being thrown by former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in his newly-released memoir, Duty. Not only did Gates single out the sitting President, he heavily criticized both Vice President Biden and Former Secretary of State and New York Senator, Hillary Clinton. According to NPR, “the accusations could color how the two 2016 Presidential candidates are viewed by the voters.”
The inclusive, yet controversial memoir is about the trials and tribulations of the life and duty of Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Gates served in the Department of Defense under all presidents dating back to Nixon, with the exception of President Clinton. Along with his service in the United States Air Force and the CIA, Gates is a well-rounded civil servant. However, such a man of action seemed to be trouble-minded as he arrived in Washington.
As Politico reports, it seems that former Secretary Gates hated every moment of the Hill. Gates stated that, “the temptation to stand up, slam the briefing book shut and quit on the spot recurred often. From someone who administered the presidential daily briefing throughout most of America’s longest war and in an age of rampant terrorism threats, both foreign and domestic, Gates’ feelings are understandable to most. Many political critics of his book question why he stayed if he viewed his duty in such a fashion.
“All too frequently,” Gates wrote, “the exit lines were on the tip my tongue: I may be the secretary of defense, but I am also an American citizen, and there is no son of a bitch in the world who can talk to me like that. I quit. Find somebody else.”
Gates, however, stayed to serve his country.
During a meeting in 2011, in the stages of articulating the withdrawal of troops and the winding down of the War in Afghanistan, is when Gates first criticizes the leadership of President Obama in his book. Reported in the New York Times, Gates was taken aback by Obama’s reluctance with both General David Petraeus and President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan.
“As I sat there,” he wrote, “I thought: The president doesn’t trust his commander, can’t stand Karzai, doesn’t believe his own strategy and doesn’t consider the war to be his.”
While many critics of the Obama Administration have argued that the President only wanted to withdraw troops and not offer any type of contingency plan in regards to the security of Afghanistan, it seems that Secretary Robert Gates had a front row seat to the President’s lethargic foreign policy plan.
The criticism, however, does not stop at the President. While Gates describes a favorable character in Vice President and former Delaware Senator Joe Biden, the compliments cease at that. Gates, as reported in The Washington Times, stated that Biden, “was regularly wrong about his view on international affairs.” When it comes likability, Hillary Clinton ranks higher than her executive branch counterparts. He describes her as, “smart, idealistic…a very valuable colleague”, the New York Times reported. In contrast, he draws the conclusion that her possible 2016 presidential candidacy may be threatened by her opposition to the 2007 surge in Iraq under President Bush. An opposition that came to fruition under the influence of Democratic, beltway politics.
While Gates’ book throws right-hooks and jabs at the White House, Press Secretary Jay Carney is playing damage control and is offering a defense for the Administration. “The President greatly appreciates Secretary Gates’ service”, Carney said and NPR reports. While Obama, Biden, and Clinton shrug off the criticism against their policy analysis and action on office, this tell-all memoir offers a deep and inclusive insight into how a future democratic presidential candidate may act towards foreign policy. Though, one thing is certain; this incident has undoubtedly offered some political boxing practice for both Joe Biden and Hillary and Clinton as America begins to debate about the 2016 election.
By: Alex Lemieux