As controversy seems to grow around "Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary of War" by Robert Gates, much of the attention seems to leaning on one side, which tersely criticises President Obama. However, the whole picture the book tries to convey seems to have been missed by many in a hurry to take pot-shots at the US President.
Earlier on Monday, President Obama described his former defense secretary as "a good friend" and an "outstanding" public servant. "I'll always be grateful for his service," he added. What Gates provides to the public is the viewpoint of a blunt statesman, who does not shy away from criticising his own president. But it also brings out a man - the president, who is careful, methodical and despite his own doubts unemotional in making decisions.
In "Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary of War", Gates criticices Obama's handling of the Afghanistan war. The excerpts from the 600-page plus memoir, has turned into a fodder for making politcal judgements of the president as it provide enough ammo.
The memoir despite the image that is being created that 'an Obama lambast', in fact has a balanced approach.
What is Gates Really Saying:
- Gates seems to be strongly opposed to Obama on military matters. He writes that Obama lacked the "passion" he had seen in President George W Bush. Gates, who was originally appointed by Bush to head the Pentagon, states he was seen with "suspicion and distrust..." by Obama and his those around him.
- He felt that Obama failed to mobilise public support for the troop deployment in Afghanistan. "When soldiers put their lives on the line," writes Gates, "they need to know that the commander in chief who sent them in harm's way believes in their mission." Gates says President Obama never did that as he was "skeptical if not outright convinced it would fail."
- Gates, who had served seven other presidents, notes that when it came to important policy choices about Afghanistan, Obama "was right in each of these decisions."
- Operation 'Geronimo,' the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden was "one of the most courageous decisions I had ever witnessed in the White House," Gates notes in his memoir.
- About Bush, he says, "had no second thoughts about Iraq, including our decision to invade." But in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion, some reassessment might have served Bush and the country well. As for Afghanistan, Bush's policy was "embarrassingly ambitious" and "historically naive."