Vice President Biden retuned fire at Robert Gates in a New Yorker profile on Monday, criticizing the former Obama Defense secretary as having been “wrong about everything” through his career.
The vice president went on to say Gates had erred in his assessment of the Balkans and the Vietnam War, “for Christ’s sake.”
“You go back, and everything in the last 40 years, there’s nothing that I can think of, major fundamental decisions relative to foreign policy, that I can think he’s been right about,” Biden concluded.
“I can hardly wait — either in a presidential campaign or when I’m out of here — to debate Bob Gates,” Biden said. “Oh, Jesus.”
The comments came as a direct rebuke to comments Gates made both in his memoir and during the subsequent book tour, when he memorably hit Biden as "wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades."
“The vice president, when he was a senator — a very new senator — voted against the aid package for South Vietnam, and that was part of the deal when we pulled out of South Vietnam to try and help them survive,” Gates told NPR.
“He said that when the shah fell in Iran in 1979, that that was a step forward for progress toward human rights in Iran,” Gates continued. “He opposed virtually every element of President Reagan's defense build-up. He voted against the B-1, the B-2, the MX and so on. He voted against the first Gulf War. So on a number of these major issues, I just frankly, over a long period of time, felt that he had been wrong.”
Biden said Gates made the comments because he was “upset” the vice president had “questioned the military.”
“Well, I believe now, believed then, that Washington and Jefferson were all right: War is too important to be left to generals,” Biden said. “It is not their judgment to make! Theirs is to execute. So I think you’ve seen a President who is loyal and supportive of the military but realizes he’s the commander in chief.”