About the new Woodward book, Peter Baker writes in the New York Times:
The book, “Obama’s Wars,” by the journalist Bob Woodward, depicts an administration deeply torn over the war in Afghanistan even as the president agreed to triple troop levels there amid suspicion that he was being boxed in by the military. Mr. Obama’s top White House adviser on Afghanistan and his special envoy for the region are described as believing the strategy will not work.
The president concluded from the start that “I have two years with the public on this” and pressed advisers for ways to avoid a big escalation, the book says. “I want an exit strategy,” he implored at one meeting. Privately, he told Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. to push his alternative strategy opposing a big troop buildup in meetings, and while Mr. Obama ultimately rejected it, he set a withdrawal timetable because, “I can’t lose the whole Democratic Party.”
I’m reminded of what Charles Krauthammer recently wrote:
“Our Afghan policy was focused as much as anything on domestic politics,” an Obama adviser at the time told Peter Baker of the New York Times. “He would not risk losing the moderate to centrist Democrats in the middle of health insurance reform and he viewed that legislation as the make-or-break legislation for his administration.”
If this is true, then Obama’s military leadership can only be called scandalous. During the past week, 22 Americans were killed over a four-day period in Afghanistan. This is not a place about which decisions should be made in order to placate congressmen, pass health-care reform, and thereby maintain a president’s political standing. This is a place about which a president should make decisions to best succeed in the military mission he himself has set out.