The White House moved swiftly Tuesday to defend Vice President Joe Biden from criticism by former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in his forthcoming memoir, which questions his judgment on foreign policy.
“I think he has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades,” Gates writes in the book, Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War, due on sale next week.
In a statement released Tuesday evening, National Security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden responded to the charge.
“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,” Hayden said. “President Obama relies on his good counsel every day.”
Hayden said the President deeply appreciated Gates’ service as Secretary of Defense, but acknowledges that his staff often have conflicting opinions. Gates was the only high-level holdover from the Bush Administration who served under Obama.
“Deliberations over our policy on Afghanistan have been widely reported on over the years,” Hayden said, “and it is well known that the President has been committed to achieving the mission of disrupting, dismantling and defeating al Qaeda, while also ensuring that we have a clear plan for winding down the war, which will end this year. As has always been the case, the President welcomes differences of view among his national security team, which broaden his options and enhance our policies. The President wishes Secretary Gates well as he recovers from his recent injury, and discusses his book.”