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Obama lacked commitment to Afghan war: Former defence secretary Gates' memoir news
08 January 2014

In a new memoir, former defense secretary Robert Gates has criticised president Obama's leadership and his commitment to the Afghan war. He writes that by early 2010 he (Gates) had concluded the president "doesn't believe in his own strategy, and doesn't consider the war to be his. For him, it's all about getting out."

In what would likely be seen as rather serious charges that a defence secretary could make against a commander in chief deploying forces into combat, Gates asserts that Obama harboured ''more than doubts''  about the course he had charted in Afghanistan. He writes that the president was "skeptical if not outright convinced it would fail," in his book Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War.

Following months of contentious discussion with Gates and others, Obama deployed 30,000 more troops in a final push to stabilise Afghanistan ahead of a phased withdrawal beginning in mid-2011.

He writes he never doubted Obama's support for the troops, only his support for their mission.

In the run up to his election as president, Obama had made it clear that he was opposed to the 2003 Iraq invasion even as he embraced the Afghan war as a necessary response to the 9/11 attacks, requiring even more military resources to succeed.

According to Gates, Obama remained uncomfortable with the inherited wars and distrustful of the military that was providing him options.

Gates, a Republican, served as defense secretary for four-and-a-half years under Obama and his predecessor, president George W Bush.

He writes that Bush focused on Iraq at the expense of Afghanistan. He termed the Republican president's goals there "embarrassingly ambitious and historically naive," in view of the resources allocated for the task.

Recalling a meeting held in March 2011 in the White House, Gates writes, "As I sat there, I thought: The president doesn't trust his commander, can't stand (Afghan President Hamid) Karzai, doesn't believe in his own strategy and doesn't consider the war to be his. For him, it's all about getting out."

According to the former defence secretary Obama's White House constantly interfered in Pentagon affairs, even though civilian aides lacked knowledge of military operations.

However, the former defence secretary is all praise for Obama's approval of the 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan, which he describes as "one of the most courageous decisions I had ever witnessed in the White House."





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Obama lacked commitment to Afghan war: Former defence secretary Gates' memoir