Gates bashes Biden in memoir

January 7, 2014

Former defense secretary Bob Gates, in his new memoir, reserves some of his harshest criticism for Joe Biden, saying the vice president is almost always on the wrong side of foreign policy.

"I think he has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades,” Gates wrote of Biden, according to the New York Times.

As our Bob Woodward writes, Gates also accuses Biden of "poisoning the well" between the administration and military leaders.

But Biden isn't the only one singled out for criticism. As Woodward reports:

Thomas Donilon, initially Obama’s deputy national security adviser, and then-Lt. Gen. Douglas E. Lute, the White House coordinator for the wars, are described as regularly engaged in “aggressive, suspicious, and sometimes condescending and insulting questioning of our military leaders.”

White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden responded to the flap Tuesday afternoon, saying that President Obama "welcomes differences of view among his national security team," but that the president "disagrees with Secretary Gates’ assessment – from his leadership on the Balkans in the Senate, to his efforts to end the war in Iraq, Joe Biden has been one of the leading statesmen of his time, and has helped advance America’s leadership in the world. President Obama relies on his good counsel every day.”

Biden has made little secret that he has designs on running for president in 2016. His potential opponent in that campaign, Hillary Clinton, also faces some tough words from Gates, who says she admitted she opposed the 2007 surge in Iraq because she was running for president.

At the same time, Gates has largely laudatory things to say about Clinton, whom he calls "a superb representative of the United States all over the world."

Originally posted at 4:09 p.m. This post has been updated with White House reaction.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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