Biting the hand that feeds you

It is really unusual for former government officials to write memoirs when the person who hired them for the job is still in office.

However, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has a book coming out next week called “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War.” Gates was defense secretary for the last couple of years of the George W. Bush administration, then stayed in the position when invited to by Barack Obama.

According to a review of the book by Bob Woodward of The Washington Post, Gates is highly critical of some of Obama’s advisers (including Vice President Joe Biden) and feels they undermined the president’s confidence in his military commanders.

While a candidate for president in 2008, Obama continued to oppose military operations in Iraq, but believed the war in Afghanistan was justified by the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

Gates writes that the insiders’ criticism made Obama doubt his own strategy for Afghanistan. The book states 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.”

Other stories about the book assert that it says Obama doesn’t trust Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai.

The only real problem we have with Gates’ book is its timing. The president, vice president and White House advisers need to have a working dialogue with the folks at the Pentagon. And, they are going to need it for another three years.

The same goes with Karzai. A Washington insider telling the Afghan president Obama doesn’t trust him is not going to help the situation over there.

We would have had more respect for Gates if he had delayed his book until the Obama administration was over. The president never said anything derogatory about Gates – in fact, praised him for his service when he stepped down.

Gates’ book is going to make the president’s job tougher. And that’s just not smart or good for the country.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.