Journalist Bob Woodward, of Watergate fame, has a new book coming out next Tuesday titled Obama’s Wars.
In the book, Mr. Woodward exposes the internal struggle that the Obama administration faced to create an Afghanistan war strategy.
From the Washington Post:
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.
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.”
During the Presidential election, Obama emphasized his desire to fight the Afghan war, because unlike Iraq in his view, it was the right war to fight. This helped Obama get the support of moderate and independent voters. By the look of it, I don’t think Obama was being forthright when he made those claims during the campaign. It seems to me that Obama could care less about the war, which is why he ignored the military brass when crafting his own strategy. As if a community organizer from Chicago knows anything about fighting a war.
I also find it interesting how Obama ignored Biden’s pleas for a more counter-terrorism-focused strategy. Biden invoked Vietnam to make his point, but Obama didn’t care. Rather than make his decision on a sound policy proposal, he compromised between what the military wanted and what others. like Biden, wanted. The President increased the troop levels (not as much as the military wanted) and also increased counter-terrorism strikes along the Af-Pak boarder. Sorry Mr. President, but you don’t win wars by compromising.
A more startling revelation from the book is that Obama doesn’t seem very concerned about the possibility of a terrorist attack on American soil. He’s quoted as saying: “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.”
Okay, so based on this quote it might seem that Mr. Obama is taking the terror threat seriously. But should a President ever talk about the attack as something that can be “absorbed.” It is possible that an attack could make us stronger—in the long run—but most likely a large-scale attack would cripple our economy and result in massive casualties.
I certainly don’t want to insinuate that Obama doesn’t care about the threat of terrorism; however, his tone indicates that, unlike his predecessor, he doesn’t put much of his energy into preventing attacks on American soil. Granted, Obama’s got the economy to worry about, but he is still too flippant about the threat of an attack on America. Yes, we absorbed 9/11 and are stronger now because of it, but I don’t want to absorb any more attacks. Do you?