A new quote from former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’ new book Duty, Memoirs of a Secretary at War reveals even deeper and more disturbing insight into the Obama administration than earlier quotes. He gives an account of a meeting that he says is “seared in his memory.” Never in his long years of service at the highest levels had he heard a President issue “an order” to military leaders, but that day Obama issued “an order” after Biden led him into it. A Middle East advisor recommended “breathtaking” measures to stabilize Afghanistan. Biden was the only voice of disagreement among the “national security principals.” Biden “argued that the war was politically unsustainable at home.”
But within weeks, I began hearing from Mullen and other commanders about the need for more troops. I made clear that we could not go above the presidentially approved number of 68,000 without going back to the commander in chief. On June 8, I told our new commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, that I wanted him to do a 60-day review of the situation in Afghanistan, including personnel levels. It seemed a perfectly innocuous request. We needed to do the review before I approached the president about any more forces; I couldn’t nickel-and-dime him to death.
The next day was my worst so far with the Obama administration. In a meeting with the president, I described my request to McChrystal for a new assessment, including a review of troop levels, and the urgent need to send more enablers. The room exploded. The president said testily there would be no political support for any further troop increase: Congressional Democrats didn’t want one, and the Republicans would just play politics. Biden and Emanuel piled on. I had my own reservations about a big increase in troop numbers but didn’t see why 2,000 to 4,000 more enablers should cause so much angst and hostility.
Many in the White House were increasingly suspicious that the commanders were trying to box the president in. …
In late June McChrystal’s report showed worsening conditions beyond that expected. By July Mullen [Admiral Mullen, Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff] told Gates he thought McChrystal would request 40,000 more troops. Gates said “I nearly fell off my chair.”
By early September, McChrystal’s request was presented to Obama. Gates said he was shocked at the level of anger from Obama and shocked at his resistance to sending “enablers”, those who protect the troops, IED professionals, “ordnance disposal, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and medics.” Gates said he told Biden and Donilon that sending or not sending “enablers” was a “moral” position and not doing so was “failing” to “protect the troops.”
In a memo from Gates to Obama:
I ended on a very personal note. “Mr. President, you and I—more than any other civilians—bear the burden of responsibility for our men and women at war,” I wrote. “But, I believe our troops are committed to this mission and want to be successful. Above all, they don’t want to retreat, or to lose, or for their sacrifices—and those of their buddies—to be in vain.”
McChrystal rejected Biden’s ‘politically unsustainable’ argument and the White House viewed him and the military as an “orchestrated effort” to force Obama’s hand. Gates describes Obama as “the infuriated President.”
A narcissistic Obama asked:
What is wrong? Is it the process? Are they suspicious of my politics? Do they resent that I never served in the military? Do they think because I’m young that I don’t see what they’re doing?”
It’s always about him, always about Obama.
By sometime in October Obama asked for Gates’ recommendations and received them. Gates was in agreement with Obama that the Taliban could not be “eliminated,” and suggested that the Taliban be denied the opportunity to control major cities and pressure them “along the Pakistan border.”
We should “quietly shelve trying to develop a strong, effective central government in Afghanistan” and concentrate instead on building up a few key ministries. I supported McChrystal’s request for 40,000 troops, but I offered an alternative of about 30,000 troops.
In a phone conversation, Obama agreed to more enablers but not as many as were requested and believed to be necessary….
“I’m tired of negotiating with the military,” he said.
In a meeting a few days later, that Gates says “was unlike any I ever attended in the Oval Office:”
Obama said he had gathered the group principally to go through his decisions one more time to determine whether Mullen and Petraeus were fully on board. The commanders said what he wanted to hear, and I was pleased to hear my proposal being adopted.
Then came an exchange that is seared into my memory. Biden said he was ready to move forward, but the military “should consider the president’s decision as an order.”
“I am giving an order,” Obama quickly said.
I was shocked. I had never heard a president explicitly frame a decision as a direct order. With the U.S. military, it is completely unnecessary. As secretary of defense, I had never issued an “order” to get something done; nor had I heard any commander do so. Obama’s “order,” at Biden’s urging, demonstrated the complete unfamiliarity of both men with the American military culture.
In other words, Obama and his gang of bullies have no skills of leadership beyond a perceived right to lead by presidential presumption.
Secretary Gates also recounted the early meetings when George W. Bush was relentlessly excoriated, in front of him. He said he wondered if he were “invisible” and said in the Situation Room no “discriminating analysis” was allowed. Read it all at Wall Street Journal in Gates’ own words. UPDATE: Video of Gates on CBS this morning at The Lonely Conservative.
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