Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense under Presidents Bush and Obama, has written a memoir. According to Bob Woodward, Gates says that by early 2010 he (Gates) had concluded that the president “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 adds that Obama didn’t just have doubts about the policy he had implemented, under which a significant number of American forces were sent to fight (and inevitably) die in Afghanistan. Obama was “skeptical if not outright convinced [his strategy] would fail.”
Gates never doubted Obama’s support for the troops; “only his support for their mission.” But it was Obama who gave them that mission.
Woodward describes Gates’ report as one of the more serious charges that a defense secretary could make against a commander in chief sending forces into combat. That’s an understatement. Expending American blood on behalf of a strategy one has devised but doesn’t believe in is despicable, if not criminal.
John Kerry came to prominence as a young soldier demanding to know who would be the last to die for a mistake. But at least in Vietnam, the president was in the process of withdrawing from the war — one which had been ramped up under his predecessor. In 2010, by which time Gates says Obama did not believe in the ramp-up strategy he had formulated, the U.S. was forging ahead with that strategy. Phased withdrawal did not begin until mid-2011.
Gates reveals other similarly despicable behavior by both Obama and Hillary Clinton. He writes:
Hillary told [Obama] that her opposition to the  surge in Iraq had been political because she was facing him in the Iowa primary. . . . The president conceded vaguely that opposition to the Iraq surge had been political.
Gates was surprised when he heard this conversation. But the only surprising thing is that Obama and Clinton had it with Gates present. Modern Democrats consistently make decisions about war and peace based on political calculation, rather than on what’s best for America.
Bill Clinton set the tone when he said, in response to a question about how he would have voted on the First Gulf War, that he would have voted with the majority (i.e., in favor of going to war) if the vote was close, but that he agreed with the arguments the minority made.
There was a time, I’m pretty sure, when votes on matters of war and peace — the most important ones a legislator ever casts — were based solely on the merits. But for modern Democrats, that notion is hopelessly outdated.
Flash forward to the vote on authorizing the second war with Iraq. Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and many other Democrats voted in favor. Was this because they believed the U.S. should spend blood and treasure to oust Saddam Hussein? Don’t be silly. The vote was politically motivated. Public support for going to war was high, as was the probability of success. So prospective presidential candidates like Clinton and Kerry weren’t willing to say “no.”
Barack Obama said no, but he was in an entirely different political position. Obama was plotting his rise in Illinois Democratic politics, a decidedly left-wing affair. It was in his interest at that time to take an antiwar position. Later, when the war initially went well, he backed away from that stance, only to re-embrace it when things went south. Peter Wehner has documented this.
Flash forward to the Iraq surge. Gates has already shown the criminal cynicism of Hillary Clinton and, it seems, Obama on that momentous issue.
Flash forward to Afghanistan, and the pattern becomes complete.
Republicans send U.S. troops into harm’s way when they believe (rightly or wrongly) that doing so serves America’s interests. Democrats send them into harm’s way when they believe it serves their personal political interests. It’s just about that simple.