Ben Rhodes, President Barack Obama’s close confidante and national security adviser, just supercharged the ongoing feud between former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and the National Security Council by calling Gates an incessant whiner.
The same Gates who has largely earned the respect of experts and politicians alike, across the aisle, for his measured, pragmatic approach to foreign policy: according to Rhodes, an incessant whiner.
In a long-form profile piece Thursday written by The New York Times, Rhodes, who serves as deputy national security adviser for strategic communication in the Obama administration, blasted Gates and lumped him in with the rest of the Washington, D.C., foreign policy establishment, which he contemptuously refers to as “the Blob.”
“According to Rhodes, the Blob includes Hillary Clinton, Robert Gates and other Iraq-war promoters from both parties who now whine incessantly about the collapse of the American security order in Europe and the Middle East,” reads the article.
Rhodes’ comments serve to remind Gates that the administration is ready to hit back at him in the press, as well, in response to his criticisms of the NSC. Gates has repeatedly and publicly criticized the administration, particularly the NSC, saying in January that Obama thinks he’s the smartest person in the room. He also said Obama’s ideological obsessions creates a “group think” environment which stifles genuine debate. Differences in opinion are silenced. Gates further charged that the White House is incapable of developing and implementing a strategy.
He also called Ben Rhodes and former special assistant Samantha Power naïve and clueless.
That was all in January.
In March, Gates said Obama ignored the NSC’s near unanimous advice to support then-Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, so he could be remembered in the history books as being on “the right side of history.”
Obama ignored his team and opted to follow the lead of junior backbenchers.
In April, Gates remarked that during his time in the Obama administration, the NSC’s micromanagement of Pentagon affairs drove him “nuts.” According to Gates, there were “White House and NSC staffers calling senior commanders out in the field and asking them questions second-guessing those commanders.”
Also in April, Gates said he felt “double-crossed” by Obama, as the president had promised not to radically change the Pentagon budget. He then went ahead and did just that.
“I guess I’d have to say I felt double-crossed,” Gates said in an interview on Fox News. “After all those years in Washington, I was naïve.”
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