January 16th, 2014
07:25 PM ET
11 months ago

Gates on Iran sanctions, Biden and biggest mistakes as defense secretary

(CNN) – Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates is defending his criticism of Vice President Joe Biden's record on national security.

Gates writes in his new book, "Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War," that Biden was "wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades."

He stood by his comments in an interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN's "The Situation Room."

"I think I should have worked harder as secretary of defense to reach out privately to the Vice President to see if there wasn't a way to narrow our differences," Gates said on Thursday.

"The irony is that if you read the book, it's clear that I was in agreement with the Vice President on most of the issues facing the administration except for Afghanistan," he said.

For example, he and Biden were hesitant to support the 2011 U.S. special forces raid that ultimately killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and was supported by President Barack Obama.

Gates said that while he and Biden, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, agreed on this issue, their opposition was for different reasons.

"What I say in the book is that I think the Vice President was against the raid because of the domestic political consequences," he said.

"I was against the raid because successful or failure, I was worried that it would create such a problem with the Pakistanis they would shut down our line of communication in Afghanistan but at the very end I did turn around and support the raid."

Gates also writes that Obama lost faith in his own Afghanistan policy, which generated sharp controversy earlier in the week.

Gates weighed in on efforts in Congress to apply new sanctions on Iran as well as his biggest mistakes running the Pentagon for two presidents.

Gates agrees with Obama that imposing new sanctions on Iran now would probably "torpedo" a global effort aimed at getting Tehran to shelve its nuclear ambitions.

In addition to his wavering relationship with Biden, Gates said one of his biggest mistakes was "failing to get a chain of command problem fixed in Afghanistan quickly enough."

Gates, a Republican, was appointed secretary of defense by former President George W. Bush in 2006 and was asked to stay on by Obama. He left the position in 2011

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Filed under: Congress • Joe Biden • Robert Gates • TV-The Situation Room
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    People will listen to Gates when he comes clean and tells the truth about the 8 year abortion called the Bush Administration. Until then, he should shut his mouth.

    January 16, 2014 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  2. Gurgyl

    The main problem is GOP idiots nasty politics. Iran is not the problem. O.k.

    January 16, 2014 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  3. king

    let me see. uncle Biden knows that if you fight a war without borders, and against a religious belief, the possibility of winning a war like that is virtually impossible, because even when the fathers have been killed, this will give the sons the boost to keep fighting for generations, gates on the other hand thinks that if you pound these religious fanatics in the ground, their suicidal generations will be scared to take up their fathers fights, and thousands of years of traditions and belief by these people would be wiped off the face of the earth. so the war against Iraq and Afghanistan was a fluke, and i must have to take Biden side on those, because Biden wanted to fight both wars, without so much man power, and more with technology.

    January 16, 2014 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  4. Harold Read

    Too bad for you Joe. The media has selected Hillary. The bus is coming for you and Barack, Hillary and Bill will be at the wheel when you get tossed underneath.

    January 16, 2014 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  5. quinLee

    as if this circus couldn't get any stranger

    January 16, 2014 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  6. bill

    Iran deal-obama/hillary/kerry will not tell us what he says??? remember obamacare "pass the bill then we can read it". He bowed down to a muslim prince??? lied about obamacare lied about Benghazi-on and on–and he will not let us know what the agreement is???? IRAN'S PRESIDENT SAID "AMERICA SURRENDERS"-that should tell anyone what their real plan is-even obama/kerry/biden/hillary/bigbird/.

    January 16, 2014 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  7. Thomas

    - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed the European Union Thursday for calling in ambassadors over plans for some 1,800 new homes for Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank.

    January 16, 2014 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |