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While some of the president’s defenders were quick to question the propriety of including such trusted and sensitive conversations in a published memoir, others wondered why Mr. Gates didn’t simply resign on the spot.

It’s a fair question, but the larger issue is the quality of Mr. Obama’s leadership. Even for a man schooled in community organizing rather military service, how could any president with even a modicum of conscience ask American troops to commit life and limb to a war that their supposed commander in chief rightly regarded as a highly dubious venture?

Reading that highly excerpted passage, I was reminded of a poignant scene from the classic movie “Jaws.” The mother of a young boy killed by the marauding shark confronts the city official who failed to sound the alarm, slapping his face in mute outrage for his dereliction of duty.

If the president really had those misgivings about the wisdom of committing American sons and daughters to combat in a mountainous hellhole half a world away, then what became of those strong convictions he had always assured us he felt?

If these were his true beliefs with regard to Afghanistan in 2011, then did the same apply to Benghazi in 2012 and afterward?

The White House and its usual media suspects have rallied around Obama insiders such as former National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, who was a “disaster” in the declared opinion of Mr. Gates.

The former defense secretary is equally scathing in criticizing that noted statesman Joseph Biden, glimpsed during the 2012 campaign debates attempting a troubling imitation of a sitting vice president.

Even more worrisome is Mr. Gates‘ pithy confirmation of something many of us only suspected. “I felt that agreements with the Obama White House were good for only as long as they were politically convenient.”

From Watergate to the Obama White House, insider accounts are convincing and even invaluable when they tear away the great masks of public deception. Always performing his duty as a good servant to the nation, Robert M. Gates apparently has done just that.

Col. Ken Allard, retired from the Army, is a military analyst and author on national security issues.