Should be required reading for all U. S. citizens interested in how major decisions are made
Nov 15, 2010
No one has more access to decision makers and then is able make them share their stories than Bob Woodward. When the word is received that he is writing a book about an event and he wants to interview the principals, all reluctance to comply is dropped. The people become eager to share their recollections and notes so that their side of the story is told. Laurence O'Donnell of MSNBC confirmed this when he was conducting an interview of Woodward. O'Donnell talked about how eager he was to provide his perspective and notes of events to Woodward when O'Donnell was a congressional chief of staff. Woodward once again does a superlative job in taking the data and distilling it down into a coherent and descriptive recollection of a major action of the American government. President Obama inherited the war in Afghanistan from President Bush and it is universally conceded that the Bush administration was a failure in prosecuting the war against the Taliban. This book chronicles the actions of the major players as they pursue Obama's objective of arriving at a coherent and effective strategy to keep the Taliban and their supporters from once again controlling Afghanistan. It is a messy and duplicitous process as everyone in the national security apparatus is looking to maintain their influence over the decision while simultaneously looking forward and backwards. All are looking forward to their future influence as well as how they will be portrayed if the strategy succeeds or fails. The looks backwards are to the war in Vietnam, where a series of errors based on completely false premises, government deception and ambiguously stated orders and goals led to what was a political defeat. Major decisions about war and peace are never easy ones to make and that is clear from this book. While all of the principals are patriots and clearly want the United States to succeed, their tactics are often very self-serving and self-protecting. This is a fascinating book and should be required reading of all American presidents-elect as they approach their inauguration and for all U. S. citizens with an interest in how the federal government works.
The midterm elections of 2010 came and went and one issue that was not discussed was one of the most important, the war in Afghanistan. Even though it remains one of the most costly issues, even the most conservative estimates are that it will cost close to a trillion dollars, and the budget deficit loomed large in the election, no one talked about it. No one has more and better access to the major players in government than Bob Woodward and he demonstrates that again in … more
Obama's Wars by Bob Woodward Simon and Schuster 2010 By: Dr. Joseph S. Maresca The author did a considerable job of documenting and fact checking numerous White House internal memos, meetings, interviews, critical decisions on Afghanistan and the campaign in Pakistan. The counterinsurgency envisioned by David Petraeus is delineated in the book at … more
Charlie Ashbacher is a compulsive reader and writer about many subjects. His prime areas of expertise are in mathematics and computers where he has taught every course in the mathematics and computer … more
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In Obama's Wars, Bob Woodward provides the most intimate and sweeping portrait yet of the young president as commander in chief. Drawing on internal memos, classified documents, meeting notes and hundreds of hours of interviews with most of the key players, including the president, Woodward tells the inside story of Obama making the critical decisions on the Afghanistan War, the secret campaign in Pakistan and the worldwide fight against terrorism.
At the core of Obama's Wars is the unsettled division between the civilian leadership in the White House and the United States military as the president is thwarted in his efforts to craft an exit plan for the Afghanistan War.
"So what's my option?" the president asked his war cabinet, seeking alternatives to the Afghanistan commander's request for 40,000 more troops in late 2009. "You have essentially given me one option.... It's unacceptable."
"Well," Secretary of Defense Robert Gates finally said, "Mr. President, I think we owe you that option."
It never came. An untamed Vice President Joe Biden pushes relentlessly to limit the military mission and avoid another Vietnam. The vice president frantically sent half a dozen handwritten memos by secure fax to Obama on the eve of the final troop decision.
President Obama's ordering a surge of 30,000 troops and pledging to start withdrawing U.S. forces by July 2011 did not end the skirmishing.