White House rejects Gates criticisms

The White House immediately rebuffed a searing critique of its Afghanistan war policies Tuesday from former Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

In his forthcoming memoir Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War, Gates writes that President Obama doubted his own policies in Afghanistan would succeed.


He also argues that Vice President Biden was wrong on “nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.”

The White House rejected the criticism of Biden, while arguing Obama appreciated different views from his national security team.

“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,” National Security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden said in a statement.

“The President deeply appreciates Bob Gates' service as Secretary of Defense and his life,” the statement continued. “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.”

On Biden, Hayden said 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.

“President Obama relies on his good counsel every day,” the statement said.

In 2009, Biden opposed a U.S. troop surge in Afghanistan, instead pushing for a smaller U.S. troop presence to wage a counterterrorism campaign of drone strikes from afar.

In criticizing Biden’s strategy, Gates, who supported President Obama's troop surge, wrote that “Whac-A-Mole’ hits on Taliban leaders weren't a long-term strategy.”