The last seven years of the Bush presidency had as their soundtrack “Bush lied, people died” or “No wars for oil.” Democrats loved their troops so much that they couldn’t bear to see them die because a president had ulterior motives. Bush left the White House and, magically, Democrats stopped caring about the troops.
Obama, however, did still care about the troops: He cared that they functioned as political props to give him cover in his half-assed efforts to “be tough on terrorism.” We know this because former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has written a book. Sure, Gates could be lying in Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War, but one suspects he’s not — at least as to this point. If Bob Woodward (who reviewed the book) is correct, what Gates reports is entirely consistent with Obama’s actions; his speeches about troops, terrorism, and Afghanistan; and his political record before becoming president:
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.” (Emphasis added.)
Assuming the above statement to be true (as I do), what Obama did was unconscionable. Bush, who stood on Ground Zero right after 9/11, believed in the fight, even though he knew troops would die protecting America’s interests. (And that statement is true whether one believes that Bush headed into war to keep America safe or headed into war to keep Big Oil safe. I, of course, incline to the former view.) Obama, however, believed only in himself and was willing to let people die to advance his political standing. Ace spells it out:
Which is what is so galling. Men are being killed at three times the rate as they died under Bush’s leadership, and Obama is not even trying to win.
Those men remain there out of political cowardice. Men are dying for Obama’s political cowardice.
If he does not wish to fight the war– then he should save those men’s lives and bring them home.
It is one thing to sacrifice men’s lives for an important objective. The only objective sought by Obama is avoiding the “Weak on Terrorism” attack that would be lodged by the Right. And the attack that Obama claimed, in knocking the Iraq War constantly, that he would be tough as the Devil on Afghanistan.
So men are dying, to save Obama some short-term minor political pain.
Obama wasn’t the only Leftist politician who viewed America’s overseas wars against Islamic terrorism, not as matters of America’s existential survival, but as mere political props. When Hillary found herself facing Obama in the 2008 election, she declared herself against the Iraq war, not for any principled reason, but simply because that was Obama’s position. When Hillary saw which way the wind was blowing, that’s the direction she headed:
He [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.”
One wonders how long it will take the MSM to bury that inconvenient truth. Both of these people are the execrable Francis Underwood, from House of Cards. Their primary motivation, always, is the aggrandizement of self, and they do not care who suffers or dies during their brutal slog to the top.
The revelations in Gates’ book might cost Obama a point or two in his already sagging polls, but I doubt most people will care very much. Those of us who had already figured out what was going on will feel vindicated, his acolytes won’t mind (they felt the same way, no doubt), and the troops will have been screwed, as usual. This is just one more in a series of Obama insults to the men who shed blood for a war that Obama never saw as more than a campaign prop. (Here’s a satiric take on Obama’s loss of Fallujah, where so many Marines fought and died; and here’s a serious look at the sacrifices Obama threw away.)
There’s something a little more interesting going on when it comes to Hillary. The quotation above reveals that Hillary didn’t arrive at her position on Iraq by looking at the situation on ground and making a calculation about the benefits or burdens to America in continuing to stay there, either to fight or to police that nation. Instead, she mapped out a campaign strategy. Pretty foul, right? But in the paragraph immediately after the one I quoted above, Woodward makes this observation:
Earlier in the book, he [Gates] describes Hillary Clinton in the sort of glowing terms that might be used in a political endorsement. “I found her smart, idealistic but pragmatic, tough-minded, indefatigable, funny, a very valuable colleague, and a superb representative of the United States all over the world,” he wrote.
Woodward is saying that Gates praises Hillary extravagantly in the beginning of the book and then reams her in the end. What’s with that? My current guess is that Gates wanted to make his attack on Hillary credible. If he’d spent the entire book lambasting her, readers might have doubted the veracity of his attack on her integrity. By praising her to the skies, though, Gates positioned himself as a man without a bone to pick who was making a straightforward factual observation about the woman who would be president.
Any other theory about Gates’s extravagant praise and brutal revelation makes Gates’ praise for Hillary impossible to understand. She didn’t do squat as Secretary of State except for amassing frequent flier miles. The one time something happened (Benghazi), she failed in her responsibilities before and during the attack, and lied afterwards. If Gates thinks she was wonderful, than he’s a fool, and everything else he’s written should be questioned. If, however, he’s giving himself cover for his attack on Hillary, maybe he’s crazy like a fox.
The book is also garnering attention because of Gates’ sweeping Biden indictment (“wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.”) and his description of Obama’s efforts to make decisions about war without bothering to speak with the Pentagon first (or at all).
Overall, Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War sounds like a worthwhile read, if only to try to figure out whether Gates is a fool who thinks Hillary was wonderful, barring her amoral approach to Iraq or if he’s a wily fox who seeks to discredit her but realizes that he can’t sound too hostile when he does so. We’ll probably see a flurry of books now, most of them painting a picture of a White House with a self-involved, narcissistic, dishonest leader listening only to his core cadre of ideologues, none of whom care about America as she is (as opposed to the Leftist utopia they hope she will be), while assiduously avoiding any contrary voices.