Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates says President Joe Biden has a track record of errors on foreign policy.
Gates, who served under former President Barack Obama when Biden was vice president, was interviewed by Anderson Cooper for the CBS show “60 Minutes” on Sunday.
During the interview, Cooper mentioned comments Gates had made in his 2014 book, “Duty.”
The former defense secretary had written that Biden was guilty of “poisoning the well” with the military and was “wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades,” according to Politico.
Gates’s reply showed his opinion has not changed.
“I think he’s gotten a lot wrong,” he told Cooper.
Gates indicated Biden’s track record on foreign policy is bad.
“He opposed every one of Ronald Reagan’s military programs to contest the Soviet Union. He opposed the first gulf war. That list goes on,” he said.
During the interview, Gates said he was troubled by the debacle he witnessed in Afghanistan in August, from the Taliban takeover to the U.S. withdrawal.
“It was really tough. For a few days there, I actually wasn’t feeling very well. And I realized it was because of what was happening in Kabul,” he said.
“And I was just so low about the way it had ended, if you will. And — and I guess the other — the other feeling that I had was that it probably did not need to have turned out that way,” he said.
Gates said Biden mismanaged his way into a crisis.
“Once President Biden reaffirmed that there was going to be a firm deadline date, that’s the point at which I think they should have begun bringing those people out. You’d have to be pretty naïve not to assume things were gonna go downhill once that withdrawal was complete,” he said.
Gates said that he and others who shaped U.S. policy in Afghanistan had made significant errors.
“I think that we created an Afghan military in our own image. And one that required a lot more sophisticated logistics and maintenance and support than, say, the Taliban,” he said.
“Instead of being light and tactical and basically self-resourced as the Taliban were, we created a logistics-heavy, sophisticated-equipment-heavy military,” Gates said.
That the military collapsed was not unexpected, he said.
“And when you pulled that rug out from under them, and you add on top of that the corruption of the senior military leaders and so on, it’s not a surprise to me that the Afghan army collapsed,” the former secretary of defense said.
Gates also said the Biden administration’s concept that it can gather intelligence without being on the ground is not likely to pan out.
“This notion that you can carry out effective counterterrorism in Afghanistan from a great distance, it’s not a fantasy, but it’s just very, very hard,” he said.
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