'This Week': Robert Gates' 'Duty'

Donna Brazile, Matthew Dowd, David Plouffe, and Rep. Adam Kinzinger on Robert Gates' new book.
3:00 | 01/12/14

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Transcript for 'This Week': Robert Gates' 'Duty'
A look at the massive security set up in sochi, russia, as thousands prepare to travel to the olympics and now a new state department warning has american athletes taking extraordinary precautions. Abc is in moscow with the breaking details. Reporter: Good morning, martha. The new warning from the state department urges americans at the olympics to be on the lookout for a terror attack. The travel warning says there's no specific threat to americans, but it wants to be particularly vigilant on public transportation. It comes after deadly terror attacks rocked the region. And after russia's most-vaunted terrorist urged followers to target the games. President putin has deployed tens of thousands of and troops and a massive surveillance program. All of which means these olympics will take place on lockdown. The fbi is sending agents to sochi in case they can be of help. But the u.S. Ski team is not taking chances. They have hired a private firm to evacuate them in case of emergency. The state department also warning americans about russia's anti-gay law, saying that anyone thought to be promoting ho homosexalty could face jail time. We are back in the roundtable. And turn to the war in afghanistan. We talked about the wars in iraq and afghanistan. One thing points to president obama. He said as I sat there, i thought that the president doesn't trust his commander, can't stand karzai, doesn't believe in the strategy and doesn't consider the war to be his. For him, it's all about getting out. He also said that he thought the president supported the troops, but not the mission. One of the things secretary gates did here is not only talk about a sitting president, but a sitting commander in chief. You are still in the military as a reservist. Did two tours in iraq. Does this undermine president obama as commander in chief? You know, it may chip away at that a little bit, but -- i might have to take a different view than the panel. It's important for it to come out. Nobody's been critical of this administration's foreign policy, both in iraq and afghanistan by and large. We haven't heard a lot of it. For gates to say behind the scenes, this is the truth, they opposed the surge for political reasons. By the way, using politics on foreign policy is terrible. A leader should never do that. And in afghanistan -- I'm a believer in the war in afghanistan that we can and should win. When was the last time you heard the president of the united states tell the american people why we're there and the interests is? He hasn't talked about it, he's avoided it. And the security agreement, they're floating nine or 10,000 american troops when general allen and generals on the ground recommended at least 15,000 to accomplish the mission. This is important because america is paying for this, and it's our men and women over there. Could it have waited a few years? The book? A book. Yeah. After the president is out of office. And I want to go back to that point too. As, you know, I have been around a lot of our service members. They love bob gates. Do they hear him saying the president didn't care about the mission, he wasn't invested in that and saying obama's not a great guy. Go back to whether the book should go out, free press rights. He can do that and all that. From a standpoint of governing and all that, books that are tell-all books. This wasn't a book that added a lot of value that sort of said we didn't know that. Everybody basically knew the president was against the war wanted to be out of. And asked serious questions of the generals and commanders. And there -- one thing about the book, with his criticism was of obama was he supported the troops more than the mission. There's a quote in the book that says this, this is from bob gates, even thinking about the troops, I would lose my composure. With increasing frequency. I realized I was beginning to regard protecting them as my highest priority. And I knew this loss of objectivity was the time to leave. That's disturbing. You basically have a secretary of defense who basically says you should support the mission more than the troops. When you start supporting the troops -- as a military guy, I take a quick issue with that. As a commander, if I worry only about the safety of the people, I'll never accomplish the mission. The reality is you have to take that into account. But your highest calling is to achieve that the commander in chief and country calls on you. Get in there on that. Yeah, get in there on that. In terms of that excerpt, president obama campaigned in '08 on adding troops to afghanistan. He believed in what he did. He didn't have trust in his commander, david petraeus, he named him cia director. But he talks about him not having trust in the military. He has deep trust. The president's job is to ask tough questions and make decisions based on the overall interests of the country. Not everybody in the military agreed with the decision to end the iraq war and pull the troops out. Not everyone agreed with the time linn in afghanistan. But they are tough decisions and the same as when what he committed to the american people. But secretary gates were involved in confidential meetings in the situation and other places. So president obama's crime, i guess, and you, congress, and thank you your service, was that he questioned the generals? Thank god somebody questioned the general. We have been there for a long time. And the country had become weary of the war, weary of our mission. Not understanding why we were there. They didn't see the afghanistan take responsibility, step up, mr. Karzai. Is he with us? Not with us? The president had every right to question what was the strategy at the time. It wasn't about the troops, it was about the mission going forward. That's what the president was elected to do. He had other military advisers in the room. He has the right to question. He should. If bob gates said he never questioned the military generals, I would be critical of that. He absolutely should. The problem is when they say when he's engaging american troops in a mission he doesn't believe in, or a strategy he didn't believe would be successful. As I said, I'm for winning the war in afghanistan, but if i thought the president thought we never could, I would be critical that he sent 20,000 troops to do what we couldn't do. We see what's happening in iraq today. I think first up, as you know, I had a son who served in iraq, and as a parent, I want the leaders -- the first priority, when they send our men and women over there, it's keeping them healthy and their well-being. But there's a bigger, broader thing, two major wars in the last 50 years. The vietnam war and the iraq war. 2-$3 trillion spent with no gain. No gain. Thousands and thousands of lost men and women, and I think that we should -- we swung way too much over to the idea that we can fight these wars, limited things, and major accomplishments. And more to do we want to do this? I want to turn on this to domestic politics in just a moment. But I cannot pass up what you believe should happen in iraq. We have al-qaeda flying flags in fallujah. I was in fallujah the day before u.S. Troops pulled out. That was the flash point. We lost almost a hundred marines there fighting. You think we should employ air strikes? Yeah. This is al qaeda, not an internal sunni/shia thing. They shouldn't feel safe. If they exist, they should not feel safe. If they are in fallujah, they should not feel safe. What end? To help the iraqi government to push them out. We should side with them who have been siding with iran and russia -- absolutely. And you think that'll solve the problem. I don't know if it'll solve the problem, but it'll help push al-qaeda out of fallujah. The problem exists because there's no policy in syria. That has expanded it everywhere. Al-qaeda in fallujah -- my goodness -- I don't think he's going to get resources to do that. No troops on the ground. I agree. No troops on the ground. And I don't think you're going to see air strikes with this president. No. The problem is when democracy is imposed from the outside from the top down it never works. And iraq is a perfect explanation of why it doesn't work. We have to move to domestic policy. We won't have any time. Very quickly. This week, of course, you had the unemployment report which was not very good. The jobs report gaining 74,000 jobs. And the war on poverty, donna. First of all, the war on poverty. Lyndon johnson said we're going to wage an unconditional war on poverty. More than just domestic programs. It was basically sending a message to the country, the richest country on the planet that we can do better. We can lift people out of poverty. It was an education program. I'm glad we're celebrating that milestone. Unemployment insurance, it's up to senator reid getting the six or seven republicans back on the same page. Figuring out a way to help 1.3 million americans. If we don't help them, this is going to hurt the economy, create more unemployment. Employment insurance is something we should guarantee to people still out there looking for work. Do you support this? Yeah, I mean, look, if we can pay for it and he can provide something. I'll take a look at what it is. The reality is, we live in a terrible economy. The best unemployment insurance we can get people is a job. Get them an opportunity to come back. Look, a little self-medicine for our party, we have to do a much better job of showing our compassion for the poor. We have it, don't articulate it. My father ran a homeless shelter for 25 years. I was raised in this environment. We need to talk as republicans about how conservative policies aren't based on balancing a checkbook. We want a kid born in inner city chicago to have the same opportunity as a kid born in massachusetts or denver. Thank you all. And up next, prominent women on

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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