Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is set to publish a damning memoir about the Obama administration’s handling of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, calling out President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for basing their military decisions on politics over principle and characterizing his overall tenure in the Pentagon as frustrating.
In a Washington Post preview of Duty, set for release Jan. 14, Gates describes being asked by a committee chairman about the problems he expected to encounter as secretary when Obama asked him to remain in his post, having begun in President Bush’s second term.
“I remember sitting at the witness table listening to this litany of woe and thinking, 'What the hell am I doing here? I have walked right into the middle of a category-five shitstorm.' It was the first of many, many times I would sit at the witness table thinking something very different from what I was saying,” he writes.
At nearly 600 pages, Gates writes, often bitterly, about his dismay with Washington governance in his second memoir. In contrast to his even-keeled image, Gates claims he was often “running out of patience on multiple fronts."
Gates reveals that both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama admitted that their opposition to the Iraq troop surge was more about gaining ground politically than doing what they thought was best militarily.
“'Hillary told the president that her opposition to the  surge in Iraq had been political because she was facing him in the Iowa primary,” Gates writes.
During this “remarkable” conversation that Gates bore witness to, Obama also “conceded vaguely that [his] opposition to the Iraq surge had been political.”
“To hear the two of them making these admissions, and in front of me, was as surprising as it was dismaying,” Gates relates.
Gates also slams Vice President Joe Biden, calling him “wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.”
Mostly, Gates laments “the broad dysfunction” in Washington that left him feeling angry and fatigued with his work in the highest stratum of the government.
“I have a pretty good poker face,” Gates explains about his unruffled demeanor. “I did not enjoy being secretary of defense.”