It took some time to complete reading Bob Woodward’s New York Times best-selling book, OBAMA’S WARS, but it was worth it. Getting to the point of this review, I recommend that you read it, because it addresses one of the most important matters of this decade, namely, the War in Afghanistan.
This is not a book to casually read. It is not written like an action/adventure story. Complex, vital issues are reviewed. One must pay attention to each paragraph, because a constantly shifting set of complex characters float in and out of the inner-circle of the White House and the Oval Office.
Disturbing to me is the in-fighting for power and influence upon the President between civilian advisors and military personnel who serve within the White House and at the Pentagon. Then there is the close insider group comprised of Rahm Emanuel (very recently serving as Chief of Staff – now Democratic candidate for Mayor of Chicago), David Axelrod (Senior Advisor), and Robert Gibbs (Press Secretary) who along with President Obama have absolutely no experience in the US military (Emanuel did serve one year in the Israeli Army), but exert massive amounts of influence as to how the Afghanistan War should be conducted.
Shocking to me is the fact that nowhere in this book did I see reference to how the President has looked at the War with the intent to WIN. Repeatedly Obama refers to the political consequences of his actions in the Middle East, and his overwhelming desire to bring the troops out of the area by a date he has created. Tragically I conclude that today our brave fighting men and women are just cannon fodder to a bunch of egocentric politicians.
As I read the book, I was stunned by the endless number of meetings that took place and failed to result in conclusive decisions and action, i.e., it took over one year to reach a decision on the battle plan and Commanding General David Petraeus was excluded from some important meetings. Also, shocking was the fact that leaks of vital secret information appeared to be casual affairs with no action taken to stop the problem.
One could easily wonder if the entire book isn’t an inside job providing the President with cover for the War and his announced withdrawal in July, 2011, victory or not. Woodward appears to have had casual open and free access to inside information that in my opinion is not in the country’s best interest, but could be looked upon as in the best political interests of a president under massive amounts of pressure from an electorate that is becoming increasingly frustrated with the Afghanistan adventure. Troubling to me is Obama’s command during the decision making progress, “I cannot lose the Democrat Party.” Thus military decisions have been influenced only by political considerations, placing American military lives in jeopardy.
The October 22nd New York Times has an Editorial titled “Afghanistan Today” which seems to support and yet question the Obama action plan. The editorial could also be suspect as a promotion for Woodward’s book. Someday we will find the answer, but there is obviously a very close relationship between the New York Times, and the Obama Administration’s interests.
In the end I suspect the military will be hung out to dry by Obama. He does not trust them. And, as the book indicates, he had preconceived notions about our country’s place in global affairs.
For no other reason you should read the book to see through first-hand eyes just how dysfunctional the White House inner-sanctum really is today. What it really needs is a good house cleaning, and a sound analysis by consultants such as Bain & Company or McKinsey who know how to develop efficient operations. Politicians are inefficient, ineffective, and obviously operate for the best interest of themselves, and not the electorate.