Woodward's Book Reveals White House Rancor Over Afghanistan

#1
Apologies if already posted elsewhere. As Clausewitz has said in effect, war is an extension of politics by other means. This is no where more evident than in our current masters' decision-making regarding Afghanistan.

Woodward's Book Reveals White House Rancor Over Afghanistan


Turf battles, infighting, insults—the war in Afghanistan has divided President Obama's security team, many of whom have deep misgivings about the president's war strategy, reports the Washington Post. Journalist Bob Woodward was allowed unprecedented access to the Obama administration for his book Obama's Wars, which focuses on the president's 2009 review of strategy in Afghanistan. During the review, Obama pushed back against military commanders seeking an open-ended troop surge, telling advisers, "I want an exit strategy." Obama finally agreed to 30,000 troops but crafted a six-page "terms sheet" to make sure the Pentagon could not circumvent his decision and set a July 2011 deadline for withdrawal. "I can't lose the whole Democratic Party," he said. "I can't let this be a war without end." The book reveals the depths of the rancor that set in surrounding the war among top officials: Joe Biden called Richard Holbrooke, the president's special AfPak representative, "the most egotistical bastard I've ever met," while the president's national security adviser James Jones dubbed the president's aides "the Politburo." Afghanistan Commander Gen. David Petraeus told his own aides that the administration was "[expletive] with the wrong guy." washingtonpost.com
 

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#2
Apologies if already posted elsewhere. As Clausewitz has said in effect, war is an extension of politics by other means. This is no where more evident than in our current masters' decision-making regarding Afghanistan.
Interesting to hear there's a strategy. I wonder if they'll share at some point?
 
#3
an apposite riposte from The Atlantic


News Shock: White House Had Real Debate On Afghanistan Policy

22 Sep 2010 10:41 am
You've got to hand it to that old master of the bleeding obvious, the famous celebrant of George Bush, and the faithful stenographer of Washington power-brokers, Bob Woodward. He sure knows how to break non-news.
I have only read the excerpts, but I have to say that the notion that there was serious debate, some rancor, plenty of disagreements, occasional bursts of temper (have you ever met Holbrooke, arguably the most arrogant asshole in DC?), an earnest attempt to understand the options, and Obama's acceptance of political constraints - "I can't lose the entire Democratic Party" - is not exactly stop-the-presses stuff. It's what happens in any organization tackling such a terribly difficult decision - and the fact that views were aired and egos were bruised is, to my mind, at the least unremarkable and, at best, reassuring.
Far better than the deference, impatience, groupthink and denial of the last administration (who lost the Afghan war through negligence). But, quite obviously from my point of view, the process led to the wrong decision, and easily the worst decision of Obama's first term.
Caught between a strategic rock and a political hard place, Obama took a gamble on the neocons and McChrystal (which, after the previous eight years, was, in my view, close to madness). One wonders, of course, whether swift withdrawal or the Biden option, would have led to another set of awful consequences - moral and strategic. But we will never know. There are no controlled experiments in history. But on the core test of his new presidency, in my view, Obama made a fatally wrong decision. It's far more important now to figure out how to salvage that mistake than to re-hash the perfectly normal internal haggling that led to it.
 

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