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Woodward: Obama Fought Gens Over War

From an unfazed Washington Post:

Obama battles with advisers over Afghan exit plan detailed in Woodward book

By Steve Luxenberg
Wednesday, September 22, 2010; A8

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.

Frustrated with his military commanders for consistently offering only options that required significantly more troops, Obama finally crafted his own strategy, dictating a classified six-page "terms sheet" that sought to limit U.S. involvement, Woodward reports in "Obama’s Wars," to be released on Monday.

Six pages of "terms"? Mr. Obama must have thought he was back at the University Of Chicago passing out a homework assignment.

According to Woodward’s meeting-by-meeting, memo-by-memo account of the 2009 Afghan strategy review, the president avoided talk of victory as he described his objectives.


"This needs to be a plan about how we’re going to hand it off and get out of Afghanistan," Obama is quoted as telling White House aides as he laid out his reasons for adding 30,000 troops in a short-term escalation. "Everything we’re doing has to be focused on how we’re going to get to the point where we can reduce our footprint. It’s in our national security interest. There cannot be any wiggle room."

Obama rejected the military’s request for 40,000 troops as part of an expansive mission that had no foreseeable end. "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."

He’s not going to spend a trillion dollars on national defense. That is money that could be going to his foot soldiers, via his various ‘stimuli.’

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."

There are fools, and there are dangerous fools. Mr. Obama is a dangerous fool.

Woodward reveals their conflicts through detailed accounts of two dozen closed-door secret strategy sessions and nearly 40 private conversations between Obama and Cabinet officers, key aides and intelligence officials.

Tensions often turned personal. 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."

Will he now be forced to resign — for speaking truth to power? And probably using understatement.

Petraeus, who felt shut out by the new administration, told an aide that he considered the president’s senior adviser David Axelrod to be "a complete spin doctor."

During a flight in May, after a glass of wine, Petraeus told his own staffers that the administration was "[expletive] with the wrong guy."

The administration was ‘expletiving’ with the same man they would turn to as their savior?

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?"

Well, even David Axelrod can’t be wrong all the time.

The war in Iraq draws no attention in the book, except as a reference point for considering and developing a new Afghanistan strategy

And yet Messrs Obama and Biden claim the Iraq War to be their greatest success.

The book’s title, "Obama’s Wars," appears to refer to the conflict in Afghanistan and the conflicts among the president’s national security team.

An older war – the Vietnam conflict – does figure prominently in the minds of Obama and his advisers. When Vice President Biden rushed to the White House on a Sunday morning to make one last appeal for a narrowly defined mission, he warned Obama that a major escalation would mean "we’re locked into Vietnam."

Obama kept asking for "an exit plan" to go along with any further troop commitment and is shown growing increasingly frustrated with the military hierarchy for not providing one. At one strategy session, the president waved a memo from the Office of Management and Budget, which put a price tag of $889 billion over 10 years on the military’s open-ended approach.

In the end, Obama essentially designed his own strategy for the 30,000 troops, which some aides considered a compromise between the military command’s request for 40,000 and Biden’s relentless efforts to limit the escalation to 20,000 as part of a "hybrid option" that he had developed with Gen. James E. Cartwright, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Of course Mr. Obama is qualified to design military strategy. After all, he went to Harvard Law School.

In a dramatic scene at the White House on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2009, Obama summoned the national security team to outline his decision and distribute his six-page terms sheet. He went around the room, one by one, asking each participant whether he or she had any objections – to "say so now," Woodward reports.

The document – a copy of which is reprinted in the book, published by Simon & Schuster – took the unusual step of stating, along with the strategy’s objectives, what the military was not supposed to do. The president went into detail, according to Woodward, to make sure that the military wouldn’t attempt to expand the mission.

If Mr. Obama is determined not to repeat the mistakes made in Vietnam, why is he acting exactly like Lyndon Johnson and trying to micromanage the war from the White House?

After Obama informed the military of his decision, Woodward writes, the Pentagon kept trying to reopen the decision, peppering the White House with new questions. Obama, in exasperation, reacted by asking, "Why do we keep having these meetings?"

Translation: Mr. Obama was saying, ‘I won.’ And, worse, he could not even comprehend that these top military men were concerned that he had made a bad decision that would be dangerous for our country.

The president is quoted as telling Mullen, Petraeus and Gates: "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."

The New York Times also got an advanced copy of Mr. Woodward’s book, and notes Mr. Obama’s priorities thusly:

Woodward Book Says Afghanistan Divided White House

Published: September 21, 2010

… 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.”

And, again:

Mr. Obama’s struggle with the decision comes through in a conversation with Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who asked if his deadline to begin withdrawal in July 2011 was firm. “I have to say that,” Mr. Obama replied. “I can’t let this be a war without end, and I can’t lose the whole Democratic Party.”

Somehow it doesn’t sound like Mr. Obama is as interested in our ‘national security’ as he is in his job security – and that of his fellow Democrats.

Recall that all during the campaign, Mr. Obama pronounced that, unlike Iraq, Afghanistan was the war "we have to win." But now it turns out that he can’t run away from there fast enough.

And to hell with all of the blood and treasure that we have spent there.

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

20 Responses to “Woodward: Obama Fought Gens Over War”

  1. AcornsRNutz says:

    If Vietnam “figures into their minds” so much (which I doubt considering obama’s is devoted to himself and biden lacks one) why are they trying so damned hard to make this the next one? If we want to visit Vietnam as an example, thats fine. The real reason we “lost” was we reduced troops nearly arbitrarily in the wake of a meaningless treaty, the North re-invaded for lack of a better term, and we simply left. Why repeat that? Why tie our hands with foolish ROEs and, at the strategic level, meaningless geographic borders instead of conducting operations in the regions we need to regardless of whose piddling little third world wheaties we may be pissing in. This is America for bleeps sake! When have we EVER shown such fear and hesitation in defending our interests abroad? Not going into Russia after the fall of the Reich? Not rolling all the way to chinese border North Korea and telling them “your next!”? Not obliterating the entire North Vietnamese infrastructure and waiting for them to give up (which they actually did in terms of fighting in the south, but thats another topic)?
    No, this mistake in abandoning Iraq’s true military objectives and ignoring them in the ‘stan will wind up being much much worse.

    On a more personal note I am sick to the bones of being pissed on by this administration. Bush dragged his feet and was shy about explaining what we expected to accomplish in Iraq, and hid behind the hearts and minds BS, but I never felt he was just wasting our lives at the time. Not so this little emperor wannabe. I don’t care what his motivations are, they are not to honor my friends, my Marines who are gone, who fought for a good cause we didn’t lose, we simply walked away from!

    News flash to you, Sir, if you think you can “absorb” any attacks without a lean, fit, and deadly military you are mistaken. Keep taking away our reasons for throwing our 19 year old asses out in the breeze in some desert shithole, and we will either not go or we’ll fill the body bags with aplomb. Neither one of these options appeals to the professional warfighter. Cutting our budget and thinning our ranks we can handle, espescially the USMC, we are used to it. But when we know we are fighting simply to leave at some arbitrarily chosen date, that any victory and any strategic gain will be ignored or turned over to some innefectual corrupt third world government without setting any terms and conditions, well it get’s awfully difficult to fight. And yes, even the dumb unwashed lowly privates who come from bitter clinger families in places you have never heard of and only flown over, they can feel that too.

    Blood is always on the hands of the commander of troops when he does or fails to do what needs to be done. That is the responsibility of command. It is messy either way and it is hard. It requires men with balls and brains. Perhaps most importantly it requires the decisivness to determine whose blood you want on your hands, the enemies’ or that or that of your own men.

    • BannedbytheTaliban says:

      Fighting the previous war has always been a surefire way to FUBAR the current.

      I might just be cynical, but I find it odd that we have a President who thinks another terrorist attack is ok but has a DHS that constantly tells us of the treat of home-grown terrorism. Of course the one of many things that Obama fails to comprehend is that we made it past 9/11 because Bush was willing to do what was necessary to stabilize the economy, kill the enemy, and lead America, not denigrate her.

      On a side note, I love how my spellchecker always wants to change Obama to Osama.

    • proreason says:

      Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the national interest even appears on Obamy’s priority list.

      Like the economy, health care, and everything else, reason, tradition, global stability, the public will, and common sense don’t apply in any way.

      Obamy’s mission is to re-engineer the United States to create a two-class society. Nothing else matters to him. Nothing.

      He is willing to send thousands of soldiers to their deaths knowing in advance that he will abandon the effort and their lives will be lost in vain. He is willing to bankrupt the country knowing in advance that hundreds of millioins of people will have have their lives and livestyles destroyed. He is willing to implement a a health care system knowing in advance that it will cause the premature deaths of millions of people.

      He knows all of these things. He has been told by dozens or hundreds of advisors what the consequences will be of these policies.

      He doesn’t care. More than that. He is thrilled to be a person that gets to exercise the power of life or death over people’s lives. The people whose ancestors conquered his ancestors. Now he will be the one to right that wrong.

  2. AcornsRNutz says:

    “we made it past 9/11 because Bush was willing to do what was necessary”

    Agreed. He wasn’t perfect by any stretch, but he had that quality. It diminished somewhat in his second term, and his stomach for the fight seemed to have abated, although he still pushed the surge and damn near finished the job in Iraq. Regardless of Bush’s shortcomings, he never openly abandoned the “with us or against us” and “we will stamp out terrorism wherever we find it” mentality. He may not have held with it as much as some of us would prefer, but this current clown has actually publicly abandoned that for the whole world to see. Incredibly dangerous.

  3. Enthalpy says:

    This nothing man-child is the demon seed of SDS. He is President of the United States. What were we expecting?

  4. BigOil says:

    So basically Barry agonized for nearly a year over developing the best surrender strategy. This clown is voting present on our national security.

    • Rusty Shackleford says:

      What Steve clearly indicated and I’m sure everyone knows is that when you hand a guy a box of parts, some tools and even instructions but they clearly have no talent, this is what you get. Like Pro is fond of quoting, “When the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail” and that’s exactly what he did.

      With no real-world experience, only theories, paper-exercises and community organizing, the “strategy” in Afghanistan is to fight the “politically correct” war. How, exactly, does one do that? Of course, it’s impossible.

      What little barry would prefer is that the terrorist factions will see reason and come to realize that the US means them no harm and they and us will lay down our arms and everyone will sit around making s’mores and singing songs. Such are the imaginings of a petulant child. He only likes to go on the all-out offensive when someone criticizes him or doesn’t agree with his crappy ideas.

      Like has been said over and over: It isall about him. How it makes him look, what the people might say or not say..and even that is a failing plan. He lost the right, or more accurately, never had the right…and is now losing the left, having lost the “independents” some months ago with the BP oil fiasco. And that’s the keyword: “fiasco”. Everything he does turns into one.

      It could all be by design, and much of the time I think it is, but he still hasn’t the scruples to imagine and anticipate the consequences. He probably considers himself a “master tactician” as like as not. But he is a fool. We know it here at S&L and it would appear that more Americans are waking up to that. But my god, it’s dreadfully slow.

  5. canary says:

    Can Obama receive $ proceeds from the book.

    Obama consistently said we should be focusing on Afghanistan as he had to look like an Annie Oakly

    However, Obama wrote just prior in the Hope book, that Afghanistan was over when bin Laden got away.

    It’s all been a tea party and we’ve developed Afghanistan with technology they haven’t had before.
    Getting our troops killed in Afghanistan at the highest rate just in one year.

    Screw every General that went with this COIN ROE
    in Afganistan

    9/11 attack? Obama just turned his car radio channel when he heard about the first plane hitting the world trade center. Didn’t strike him hard because he was probably like every muslim & liberal in this country who went around saying America had it coming.

    Obama’s #1 goal is to embrace muslim countries. His U.S. partnership with Indonesia is the perfect example and model for all world countries.
    The hard core drugs destroyed much of Obama’s brain, judgement, and rational.

  6. untrainable says:

    I find it particularly telling that this information comes to us via secret meeting notes and documents cited in a new book by journalist Bob Woodward. Can someone explain to me why “secret” meetings are apparently being attended and transcribed by Bob Woodward?

    A six page “term sheet”? What the hell is that? Terms for our surrender? That’s what the islamofascists will see when they read Woodward’s book. We can only hope that the book brings about the same end to the Oblamer regime as it did to the Nixon administration. Strike that. Forget impeachment, let’s talk treason. That’s a language that Obama seems to speak fluently.

  7. Rusty Shackleford says:

    “I’m not doing 10 years,” he told Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates…”

    I would prefer he do 20 to life. But then, he’ll high-tail it out of the country and go into hiding like dictators do when the nation they have gutted is angry enough.

    (I know, I know, he wasn’t talking about prison time. But I was)

    • AcornsRNuts says:

      Actually, to play with this 10 year thing a bit further. Why would someone who cannot serve in a position for more than 8 years talk about what will happen in 10? Hmm. Maybe I am picking nits, but that seems like a bit of a fruedian slip, provided it was ever actually said.

      I don’t think he has designs on 10 years or 20 years, but I bet he’d go along with life any day. And of course, he would still not be referring to prison.

    • proreason says:

      “I don’t think he has designs on 10 years or 20 years”

      of course he does.

      The fools ego is boundless. He probably epects to be appointed emperor of the world in 2012.

    • AcornsRNutz says:

      That’s my point. He wants lifelong, 10 to 20 years ain’t nearly enough.

  8. wardmama4 says:

    Color me cynical – I am aghast, simply aghast that – ‘all of sudden’ – this Obama worship has come to an end and even those on Obama’s side are turning on him. I don’t believe it for a minute – there is some duplicitous backhanded scam being perpetrated upon the American citizens – and the only goal is to keep Obama in office and the agenda on track.

    Doesn’t it seem strange that all of a sudden – his ‘hand picked’ Townhall participants turn on him, all of a sudden (after 2 years of FOIA denials) we find Woodward (come on people, he ‘made’ his career on Nixon’s duplicity) has all this cushy access?

    Obama does nothing that does not work in Obama’s favor – Never, ever forget that. Something sinister comes this way.

    God Help America
    A Proud American Infidel

    • wardmama4 says:

      To finish the real crux of this article – Obama’s problem is that he is so narcissistic and so believes the drivel that has been pandered to the ‘stupid masses’ (i.e. that the President has all the power is to blame for failures and to be lauded for all successes (real or imagined)) that he won’t even listen to the people who do War for a living (or financials for a living, or medicine for a living, or – well you know – anyone who has actually studied a field, lived in it and worked in it – so typical of someone who has failed at everything they’ve done – What’s that saying – those who can, Do; those who can’t Teach?!?)

      The problem here (beyond simply not listening) is that historically – the terrorism has escalated – thus the next terrorist attack is going to make 9/11 look like a walk in the park – and yes Bush did do the hard work necessary to keep America & the economy from failing – Obama won’t. This mess reads like a purposeful weakening of American presence abroad – but worse an intentional disregard for safety and security at home. Which both will lead to disaster.

      Our military men & women can do the job necessary – it’s just the pathetic, weak and eternally wrong li(e)brals will apparently never, ever let American Armed Forces do it again – such a shame – one has to wonder if we had kicked butt and taken names in Korea and Vietnam – if this 3rd World radical terrorists who happen to be islamic would have even attempted the events that they have visited upon America since 1979?

      My son is in the ‘stan, he is also about 8 years to retirement (damn, I thought we just retired, how can he be so close) and he is seriously thinking about getting out – that is how horribly wrong things are going – and it removes a Combat Veteran with not only a degree but a Masters – who would make a great asset to the future Defense system and military program. And if people such as this leave – what will our future gay military be like – or our National Defense? Be afraid – it is simply a recipe for disaster.

      God Help America
      A Proud American Infidel

    • Rusty Shackleford says:

      what will our future gay military be like?

      Pink BDU’s and “bring a date night”.

      Actually, it will be much like the European “military” forces that “do joint exercises” and spend the US’s defense fund money loosely. When I was stationed in Germany, I watched as an Italian fighter pilot took all the stereo equipment he had bought at the audio store and crammed it into the windsreen area of the cockpit, into the radome around the radar system and into other compartments that I didn’t even know an F-104 had. Flight safety? What’s that?

      Then there were the Danes with their oh-so-cool haircuts down their backs and lots of mustaches and beards.

      To say nothing of their pretty lax attitudes on just about everything. Ah, utopia…I just hope I get my unicorn in the mail soon.

    • Coco Q. Rico says:

      Rusty, they don’t have BDUs anymore! Everything’s digital camouflage now (ACUs, etc). I don’t think pink ACUs are in the cards, but I’ll forward that idea around and see what people think.

  9. Tater Salad says:

    Now we all know the true meaning of the words “Bite-Me” and the Generals retirement was all about. Now, iether Gen. Petraus is an azz kisser or Obama has given him “full authority” to do whatever he wants (doubt) with the R.O.E. Has anyone an answer on this yet?

  10. Coco Q. Rico says:

    It’s amazing how strenuous these spinning games are. I wish the people who voted for Obama would just admit that he’s into war and he escalated this conflict and they voted for more war, and Bush’s Afghanistan plan made sense because the country’s so irresolvable compared to Iraq.

  11. finebammer59 says:

    “Frustrated with his military commanders for consistently offering only options that required significantly more troops, Obama finally crafted his own strategy, dictating a classified six-page “terms sheet” that sought to limit U.S. involvement, Woodward reports in “Obama’s Wars,” to be released on Monday.

    What’s worse: that this is spin designed to placate his base or……….

    It’s not???

    (those military commanders he was so “frustrated” with were/are his subordinates. If he wanted a strategy it was only an order away!!!)

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