Former Defense Secretary Bob Gates thinks that although Vice President Joe Biden is a “man of integrity,” he simply doesn’t understand foreign policy — at all.
Gates, who stepped down in 2011 after serving under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, shares his lack of confidence in the former Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in a new memoir obtained by the New York Times.
Mr. Gates calls Mr. Biden “a man of integrity,” but he questions the vice president’s judgment. “I think he has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades,” Mr. Gates writes.
Gates also reveals that he nearly resigned in September of 2009 as the Obama administration weighed a path forward in Afghanistan — an issue where Biden emerged as the in-house skeptic, or “questioner in chief,” according to the Washington Post.
He discloses that he almost quit after a dispute-filled meeting with these advisers over Afghan policy in September, 2009. “I was deeply uneasy with the Obama White House’s lack of appreciation — from the top down – of the uncertainties and unpredictability of war,” he recalls. “I came closer to resigning that day than at any other time in my tenure, though no one knew it.”
The former defense secretary also details a March 2011 meeting where Obama had “expressed frustration over his Afghan policy”:
At a pivotal meeting in the situation room in March 2011, Mr. Gates said, Mr. Obama opened with a blast of frustration over his Afghan policy — expressing doubts about Gen. David H. Petraeus, the commander he had chosen, and questioning whether he could do business with the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai.
“As I sat there, I thought: The president doesn’t trust his commander, can’t stand Karzai, doesn’t believe in his own strategy and doesn’t consider the war to be his,” Mr. Gates writes. “For him, it’s all about getting out.”
Later in the memoir, however, Gates praises Obama’s policies on Afghanistan.
“I believe Obama was right in each of these decisions,” he wrote, according to a Washington Post account.