Tear out the front page! Here is a shocker from former SecDef Gates, as reported by Bob Woodward:
In a new memoir, former defense secretary Robert Gates unleashes harsh judgments about President Obama’s leadership and his commitment to the Afghanistan war, writing that by early 2010 he had concluded 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.”
Leveling one of the more serious charges that a defense secretary could make against a commander in chief sending forces into combat, Gates asserts that Obama had more than doubts about the course he had charted in Afghanistan. The president was “skeptical if not outright convinced it would fail,” Gates writes in “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War.”
So Obama was sending our young men and women off to a meat grinder with no real confidence in the likelihood of success. How like Lyndon Johnson.
Here is the NY Times version:
Obama Lost Faith in His Afghan Strategy, Book Asserts
In His New Memoir, Robert M. Gates, the Former Defense Secretary, Offers a Critique of the President
By THOM SHANKER
WASHINGTON — After ordering a troop increase in Afghanistan, President Obama eventually lost faith in the strategy, his doubts fed by White House advisers who continually brought him negative news reports suggesting it was failing, according to his former defense secretary Robert M. Gates.
In a new memoir, Mr. Gates, a Republican holdover from the Bush administration who served for two years under Mr. Obama, praises the president as a rigorous thinker who frequently made decisions “opposed by his political advisers or that would be unpopular with his fellow Democrats.” But Mr. Gates says that by 2011, Mr. Obama began criticizing — sometimes emotionally — the way his policy in Afghanistan was playing out.
At a pivotal meeting in the situation room in March 2011, called to discuss the withdrawal timetable, Mr. Obama opened with a blast of frustration — expressing doubts about Gen. David H. Petraeus, the commander he had chosen, and questioning whether he could do business with the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai.
“As I sat there, I thought: The president doesn’t trust his commander, can’t stand Karzai, doesn’t believe in his own strategy and doesn’t consider the war to be his,” Mr. Gates wrote. “For him, it’s all about getting out.”
I wish these two could agree on the timing of Gates' insight - per the Times, the "all about getting out" moment was March 2011; per Woodward,
...by early 2010 he had concluded 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.”
Well. I was saying the same thing back in September 2009. Activate the auto-quote:
Briefly, I think Obama escalated in Afghanistan for political show - he wanted to back his famous 2002 anti-Iraq war speech about not being opposed to all wars, just dumb ones with some suitably fierce rhetoric, so he campaigned on the notion that we had to abandon Iraq and win on the real battlefield of Afghanistan, despite the many obvious obstacle to success....
[A]s of January 20 2009 the US had better chances for something like a victory in Iraq than in Afghanistan, but Obama has remained committed to pursuing the lesser chance. For now - who doubts that the anti-war left will turn on the Afghan adventure and Obama will be quick to blame Bush and turn with them?
And again in July 2010, which may or may not have put me ahead of Gates in ruminating about Obama's goals in Afghanistan:
Plenty of progressives are wondering what happened to that nice lefty they voted for, and are wondering when his inner dove will fly forth. Believe me, plenty of righties are wondering the same thing.
My official editorial position is that if we had Lincoln in the White House, the Afghani equivalent of George Washington in Kabul, and Generals Marshall and Eisenhower peering at maps of Kandahar, we might still lose in Afghanistan. Gen. Petraeus is a great general and a great American, but he is not partnered with Lincoln and Washington.
Conversely, we might be lucky enough to win even without a President committed to victory, but I don't think it is worth the chance. It's too late now, but it would have been better if Obama had never escalated the war.
Yeah, Obama lacked commitment to victory in Afghanistan, and in a subsequent post I noticed that the sun rises in the East (and the sky was blue!). There is no way it took Gates until March 2011 to figure that out.
CAN WE IGNORE A SWIPE AT HILLARY? From Woodward:
Gates offers a catalogue of various meetings, based in part on notes that he and his aides made at the time, including an exchange between Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton that he calls “remarkable.”
He writes: “Hillary told the president 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. To hear the two of them making these admissions, and in front of me, was as surprising as it was dismaying.”
Wow, Hillary's opposition to the surge was political? Just like her support of the AUMF in 2002 was political. Which makes this genius wrong twice.
As a timesaver, future writers might just want to list the decisions Hillary made that were not political. Put them in the World's Shortest Books collection.
LATE ADD: Per The Fix, I am on the expressway to Obvious Street:
How Bob Gates’s memoir could haunt Hillary in 2016
In a new memoir of his time as secretary of defense in the Obama administration, Gates writes: “Hillary told the president 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. To hear the two of them making these admissions, and in front of me, was as surprising as it was dismaying.”
Opposing the surge was cast by many political observers as a sign to the left that she had evolved since her vote for the use-of-force resolution earlier in the decade.
At one level, Gates's allegation is not at all surprising. Politicians factor in politics when making decisions? Gasp! And they occasionally adjust their policy positions based on the changing winds of public opinion? Double gasp! (Also worth noting: Gates praises Clinton at other points in the memoir, lauding her as "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, remember this is Hillary Clinton we are talking about. And, the criticism that has always haunted her is that everything she does is infused with politics -- that there is no core set of beliefs within her but rather just political calculation massed upon political calculation.
It's nice to see this getting attention, then.