If you can get past wondering why Bob Gates stayed as long as he did in an administration about which he harbored such profound misgivings, his revelations have an unmistakable ring of truth. The most damning of his charges -- that President Obama, even as he surged 30,000 additional men and women into the war in Afghanistan, had little confidence such a strategy would work, and that he was mainly focused not on winning but leaving.
This has the ring of truth. It's because even as Mr. Obama announced the troop surge, he also announced, you'll recall, that he would begin drawing it down in 18 months. Subsequently, he said almost nothing about the conflict until he began announcing timetables for withdrawal not just of the surge troops but all U.S. troops.
It is not uncommon for leaders to have worries and doubts about strategic choices made in wartime when things are going badly and attractive options are scarce. But that's not the same as sending soldiers to fight and die in furtherance of a strategy a leader never believed in from the start.
What Mr. Obama seems to have believed instead was that after he and his party had said for years that Iraq was the wrong war and Afghanistan the right one, he could not simply leave there without making some sort of effort, even if he thought it was doomed to fail. Gates says politics was often a factor, though never decisive in Mr. Obama's foreign policy decisions. Readers can judge for themselves if it was just a factor in this one.