Just the first volley and return in what is sure to be a pretty consuming tussle for the next week. Allah brought you Gates’ part— the very serious claim that President Obama sent American troops to war for political reasons despite having no faith in the plan or will to complete it. Now, the White House:

“It is well known that the president has been committed to achieving the mission of disrupting, dismantling and defeating al-Qaeda, while also ensuring that we have a clear plan for winding down the war, which will end this year,” National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement Tuesday.

Hayden said the president “deeply appreciates” Gates’ service in the Pentagon and “welcomes differences of view among his national security team, which broaden his options and enhance our policies.”

This doesn’t really address Gates’ accusation, though, does it?

Gates: “As I sat there, I thought: The president doesn’t trust his commander, can’t stand Karzai, doesn’t believe in his own strategy and doesn’t consider the war to be his… For him, it’s all about getting out.”

Obama: “It is well known that the president has been committed to achieving the mission of disrupting, dismantling and defeating al-Qaeda, while also ensuring that we have a clear plan for winding down the war, which will end this year.”

In short, it is all about getting out.

I’m interested to see how quickly the media, having lauded Gates as a consummate professional capable of bipartisan feats of strength for years, can decide he’s nothing but a dishonest, partisan hack. I think Politifact has a system for suddenly changing long-held positions if anyone needs to borrow it. K.T. McFarland touches on the prevailing (for now) opinion of Gates around town.

https://twitter.com/ktmcfarland/status/420747170262691840

How’s the dismantling and disrupting of al Qaeda going anyway? Just the worst.