Former Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is defending his memoir that both praised and criticized President Obama, calling it an “honest account” and saying he did not “vilify” anyone.
Gates also said that he is disappointed by the reaction to the book as politicians rushed to use excerpts to support their party agenda, rather than learn from the issues he discussed.
Gates’ new memoir, “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War,” has become the center of attention as it spills details about candid conversations the former defense secretary had with the president, and points out what Gates saw as weaknesses within the Obama administration.
The memoir accused Obama of not having faith in his own decisions, especially when it came to the war in Afghanistan.
While Gates did say that the President stood behind every military decision he made, it was during private conversations that Gates discovered that Obama was not able to move forward without second-guessing himself.
Gates didn’t seem to have many issues with Obama’s big policy decisions, but he did say that he saw an “absence of passion.”
According to Gates, the president himself felt that his strategy would fail only a few months after he committed to the plan.
Once again, however, Gates emphasized that these conversations happened in private.
Gates wrote that he felt that the vice president lacked foreign policy credentials and had been “wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.”
In the midst of criticizing the Obama administration, Gates has fallen under scrutiny himself for writing the memoir but he is still defending every claim in the book.
“People gave me a lot of credit when I was in office of being blunt and candid about what I felt about things,” Gates said during an interview with CBS’ “Sunday Morning.” “I could hardly be any less in writing a book.”
When he sat down with Matt Lauer of “Today,” he further explained that the memoir was not mean to “vilify” anyone. Instead it was just an “honest account” of what he witnessed and he had hoped it would have a much more positive impact than it did.
“The book has sort of been hijacked by people along the political spectrum to serve their own purposes, taking quotes out of context,” he said. “It’s sort of the political warfare in Washington that I decry in the book.”
He said the reactions are proof that some politicians are only concerned with protecting their political party and bashing the opposing party, rather than learning from mistakes that have been made in the past.
“The way people are looking at the book reflects the polarization of our political process at this point,” he told CBS. “A lot of people – not everybody – [are] going to look at this book in terms of how does it advance [their] particular political agenda, or how does it damage [their] political agenda.”
Gates’ memoir goes on sale Tuesday, Jan. 14.