The Corner

Gates: Hillary, Obama Admitted They Opposed Surge for Political Reasons

During the contentious 2008 Democratic primary battle, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama opposed the Iraq war surge for political reasons, former defense secretary Robert Gates writes in his new memoir.

In the book, out January 14, Gates writes

Hillary told the president that her opposition to the [2007] 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. To hear the two of them making these admissions, and in front of me, was as surprising as it was dismaying.

In 2007, both Clinton and Obama were vying for the support of the Democratic electorate, which had become largely hostile to the Iraq war.

Gates offers a glowing appraisal of Clinton, who he says is “smart, idealistic but pragmatic, tough-minded, indefatigable, funny, a very valuable colleague, and a superb representative of the United States all over the world,” but the president comes in for harsher criticism. 

“I felt that agreements with the Obama White House were good for only as long as they were politically convenient,” he says. “All too early in the [Obama] administration suspicion and distrust of senior military officers by senior White House officials — including the president and vice president — became a big problem for me as I tried to manage the relationship between the commander in chief and his military leaders.”