President Obama and Robert Gates / JIM WATSON AFP/Getty Images
Robert Gates' new book is starting to leak out, and it may give President Obama and his aides some heartburn.
The former defense secretary says that Obama "eventually lost faith in the troop increase he ordered in Afghanistan, his doubts fed by top White House civilian advisers opposed to the strategy, who continually brought him negative news reports suggesting it was failing," said a summary by The New York Times, which obtained an early copy of the memoir.
In a passage about a key meeting in March of 2011, Gates writes that "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," according to the Times. "For him, it's all about getting out."
UPDATE: In a statement, National Security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden said:
"The President deeply appreciates Bob Gates' service as Secretary of Defense, and his lifetime of service to our country. 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. 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. The President wishes Secretary Gates well as he recovers from his recent injury, and discusses his book.
"The President disagrees with Secretary Gates' assessment â?? 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."
Gates' book -- Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War -- is due out on Jan. 14.
The Washington Post, which also received an early copy, quotes Gates as saying that Obama was "skeptical if not outright convinced" the Afghanistan strategy would fail.
Yet, Gates also says that "Obama was right" on major decisions regarding Afghanistan policies, the Post reports.
"I never doubted Obama's support for the troops, only his support for their mission," Gates writes, per the Post.
According to the Post account, Gates writes that then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Obama once told each other that their opposition to the 2007 surge of U.S. troops into Iraq stemmed in part from the prospect of facing each other in 2008 Democratic primaries.
Gates writes that "Hillary told the president that her opposition to the  surge in Iraq had been political because she was facing him in the Iowa primary," the Post reports. "The president conceded vaguely that 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."
The Times reports that Gates also has critical things to say about Vice President Biden, Obama's national security staff, Congress, and President George W. Bush, who first appointed Gates as defense secretary.
Biden is "a man of integrity," Gates writes, but "I think he has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades."
The national security staff is "filled primarily by former Hill staffers, academics and political operatives," and has engaged in "micromanagement of military matters -- a combination that had proven disastrous in the past," writes Gates, according to the Times.
The newspaper notes that Gates considers many members of Congress to be calm and thoughtful in public, "but when they went into an open hearing, and the little red light went on atop a television camera, it had the effect of a full moon on a werewolf."
Also from The New York Times:
"Mr. Gates is a bipartisan critic of the two presidents he served as defense secretary, George W. Bush and Mr. Obama. He holds the Bush administration responsible for misguided policy that squandered the early victories in Afghanistan and Iraq, although he credits Mr. Bush for ordering a troop surge in Iraq that contributed to averting collapse of the mission. ...
"Mr. Gates does not spare himself from criticism, going beyond the typical political autobiography designed to sell as a kiss-and-tell narrative or to burnish a questionable legacy.
"He describes how he came to feel 'an overwhelming sense of personal responsibility' for the troops he ordered into combat, which left him misty-eyed when discussing their sacrifices -- and perhaps clouded his judgment when coldhearted national security interests were at stake."
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