McCain: Gates Memoir Confirms 'Suspicions' of Obama Afghan Strategy
Tuesday, January 7, 2014 09:45 PM
Sen. John McCain said on Tuesday that former Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ memoir confirmed his own suspicions about the Obama administration’s skepticism about its strategy in Afghanistan.
"I think, frankly, that it's suspicions confirmed in my case," the Arizona Republican told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV. "I was a great admirer of Secretary Gates. We didn't always agree, but I don't know of any finer man who has served the country as far as national security is concerned."
Gates, who served as Pentagon chief from 2006 to 2011 under President Barack Obama and his GOP predecessor, George W. Bush, attacked Obama's leadership on Afghanistan and other issues in his memoir.
The book — "Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War"— was reviewed on Tuesday in The Washington Post.
According to the Post, Gates wrote that he concluded by early 2010 that Obama, who had ordered his own troop "surge" in Afghanistan like Bush did in the Iraq war, "doesn't believe in his own strategy, and doesn't consider the war to be his. For him, it's all about getting out."
Gates added that Obama was "skeptical if not outright convinced it (the administration strategy) would fail," according to the Post.
"I never doubted Obama's support for the troops, only his support for their mission," Gates wrote.
McCain, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, told Malzberg that "I knew at the time that Secretary Gates did not have a very high regard for the White House," especially Tom Donilon, who was Obama's national security adviser until he was succeeded last year by Susan Rice.
The senator described Donilon as "one of the more dangerous ones in the whole White House," particularly when it came to Obama's withdrawal of troops from Iraq in 2011.
"Donilon was the key guy in making sure that we did not leave a residual force behind in Iraq," McCain told Malzberg. "President Obama campaigned that he would get us out of Iraq — and he did.
"But it was always when he would announce his support for what was going on in Afghanistan [that] he would also announce that we were going to withdraw [from Iraq]," McCain added.
"Well, that message isn't lost on the Taliban."
Over the weekend, forces with ties to al-Qaida seized the Iraqi city of Fallujah, an outcome that both McCain and GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, who also serves on the Armed Services Committee, slammed as "predictable" and reflective of Obama's failed policies in the Middle East.