The Wars of Robert Gates
The Wall Street Journal ^ | January 10, 2014 | ROBERT M. GATES
Posted on Saturday, January 11, 2014 3:26:58 PM by Hojczyk
For the first several months, it took a lot of discipline to sit quietly at the table as everyone from President Obama on down took shots at President Bush and his team. Sitting there, I would often think to myself, Am I invisible?
During these excoriations, there was never any acknowledgment that I had been an integral part of that earlier team. Discussions in the Situation Room allowed no room for discriminating analysis: Everything was awful, and Obama and his team had arrived just in time to save the day.
Our discussions soon turned to the war in Afghanistan. My years in the Bush administration had convinced me that creating a strong, democratic, and more or less honest and competent central government in Afghanistan was a fantasy. Our goal, I thought, should be limited to hammering the Taliban and other extremists and to building up the Afghan security forces so they could control the extremists and deny al Qaeda another safe haven in Afghanistan.
This pressure for an early decision on a troop increase had the unfortunate and lasting effect of creating suspicion in the White House that Obama was getting the \”bum\’s rush\” from senior military officers—especially the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Michael Mullen, and Gen. David Petraeus, who was then running the U.S. Central Command—to make a big decision prematurely. I believed then—and now—that this distrust was stoked by Vice President Joe Biden, with Deputy National Security Adviser Thomas Donilon, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and some of Obama\’s other White House advisers joining the chorus.
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