Woodward spotlights Afghanistan war in “Obama’s Wars”

Called “Obama’s Wars,” Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Bob Woodward’s new book on President Obama focuses on the Afghanistan war and the worldwide battle against terrorism, but not the top issue in the midterm elections — the weak economy.

The book, published by Simon & Schuster hit bookstores September 27, barely three weeks when it was finished and does not put heavy emphasis on the war in Iraq, but dwells on the struggle against the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan, an official with knowledge of the work told the Associated Press.

Citing secret meeting notes and documents, the book notes that 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.

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’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.

Speaking of Obama’s plan for Afghanistan as reported by the Guardian on 22 September, Woodward said that in the end Obama constructed his own plan to send 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan – a compromise between the greater commitment demanded by the military and Biden’s pressure for a much more limited increase. Attached to it was a timeline to begin pulling American forces out and shift responsibility for the fighting to Afghan forces by July 2011.

Obama announced his decision to the national security team late last year in what Woodward describes as a dramatic scene at the White House. Obama passed around a six-page “term paper” of his plan, which not only detailed what the military was expected to achieve and when – it also took the unusual step of laying out what the military was not supposed to do in order to ensure that US commanders did not try and expand the mission by stealth.

Fierce disputes over the plan spread throughout the administration and are said to have continued long after it was announced. Richard Holbrooke, Obama’s special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, is reported to believe that it “can’t work”.

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