Woodward’s “Obama’s Wars”


President Barack Obama meets with his national security team on Afghanistan and Pakistan in the Situation Room of the White House, June 23, 2010. Seated at the table are, from left, General David Petraeus, head of US Central Command, Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Vice President Joe Biden, the President, National Security Advisor Gen. James L. Jones, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Deputy National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, and John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Woodard’s new book Obama’s Wars aims to expose the Obama Administration’s inner workings.

The most explosive revelations, however, center around the Obama’s decision last year to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan but set a controversial July 2011 timeline for beginning to withdraw — an awkward compromise that Woodward’s sources seem eager to portray as very much the president’s own. And Bob’s got the goods: Obama, who comes across as deeply skeptical about the war and overwhelmingly concerned with finding an “exit strategy” rather than winning, personally dictated a six-page “terms sheet” outlining the conditions under which he was sending the troops. Woodward describes a tense Nov. 29, 2009, meeting where the president demanded that each participant read it and raise any objections “now.” According to the Post, “The document — a copy of which is reprinted in the book — took the unusual step of stating, along with the strategy’s objectives, what the military was not supposed to do.”

As Woodward describes it, the memo represented Obama’s attempt to keep the military from boxing him in and pushing to escalate the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan (a storyline we’ve heard before, though with fewer details). At one point, Woodward says, Obama told military leaders, “In 2010, we will not be having a conversation about how to do more. I will not want to hear, ‘We’re doing fine, Mr. President, but we’d be better if we just do more.’ We’re not going to be having a conversation about how to change [the mission] … unless we’re talking about how to draw down faster than anticipated in 2011.” It’s not clear just who’s boxing in whom at the moment, though. The Post remarks on the irony that Petraeus has been tasked with implementing a strategy with which he clearly does not fully agree, but the general has been pretty savvy about thus far about establishing that the withdrawals will be “conditions-based.”

Obama told Gates and Clinton at another meeting that he didn’t want to stay in Afghanistan for a decade: “I’m not doing long-term nation-building. I am not spending a trillion dollars.” He also made a similar remark to Lindsey Graham, telling the South Carolina senator, “I can’t let this be a war without end, and I can’t lose the whole Democratic Party.”

Republicans are going to have a field day with this one.

via Woodward strikes again | FP Passport.

Elected Republicans are going to have a field day with this one and Democrats may just be glad to hear that the President doesn’t want an open ended commitment to the Afghanistan War.