The Corner

Obama’s Wars

There are sneak-peak excerpts at Bob Woodward’s new book Obama’s Wars in today’s New York Times and Washington Post. As usual, Woodward’s sources and access are almost suspiciously excellent.

Mike Allen’s “Playbook” this morning does a good job grabbing the juicy bits. A flavor:

“Book details internal struggle over Afghan plan — OBAMA FRUSTRATED BY MILITARY: Woodward account centers on war strategy review,” by Steve Luxenberg: “President Obama urgently looked for a way out of the war in Afghanistan last year, repeatedly pressing his top military advisers for an exit plan that they never gave him, according to secret meeting notes and documents cited in a new book by journalist Bob Woodward. … ‘I’m not doing 10 years,’ he told Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at a meeting on Oct. 26, 2009. ‘I’m not doing long-term nation-building. I am not spending a trillion dollars.’ Woodward’s book portrays Obama and the White House as barraged by warnings about the threat of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil and confronted with the difficulty in preventing them. During an interview with Woodward in July, the president said, ‘We can absorb a terrorist attack. We’ll do everything we can to prevent it, but even a 9/11, even the biggest attack ever . . . we absorbed it and we are stronger.’ … Obama is shown at odds with his uniformed military commanders, particularly Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. David H. Petraeus, head of U.S. Central Command during the 2009 strategy review and now the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan. … “

National security adviser James L. Jones privately referred to Obama’s political aides as ‘the water bugs,’ the ‘Politburo,’ the ‘Mafia,’ or the ‘campaign set.’ … During a flight in May, after a glass of wine, Petraeus told his own staffers that the administration was ‘[expletive] with the wrong guy.’ … Suspicion lingered among some from the 2008 presidential campaign as well. When Obama floated the idea of naming Clinton to a high-profile post, Axelrod asked him, ‘How could you trust Hillary?’… A new capability developed by the National Security Agency has dramatically increased the speed at which intercepted communications can be turned around into useful information for intelligence analysts and covert operators. ‘They talk, we listen. They move, we observe. Given the opportunity, we react operationally,’ then-Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell explained to Obama at a briefing two days after he was elected president. … Afghan President Hamid Karzai was diagnosed as manic depressive, according to U.S. intelligence reports. ‘He’s on his meds, he’s off his meds,’ Woodward quotes U.S. Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry as saying.”

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