Saturday, January 15, 2011

Bob Woodward: Obama's Wars

Lyndon B. Johnson, 
South Vietnam, 1966
In December 2009, Michael Lindenberger wrote “Obama's Afghanistan decision evokes LBJ's 1965 order on Vietnam buildup” for The Dallas Morning News. In 1965, Lyndon B. Johnson took ownership of a war he, like Obama, had inherited. Gen. William Westmoreland wanted more troops in Vietnam, and after a protracted debate within the White House, Johnson sent them. Over the next three years, he would send hundreds of thousands more and launch a carpet-bombing campaign against North Vietnam. Johnson's presidency – and many argue, Johnson himself – were destroyed long before America could finally, 10 years later, quit Vietnam. Obama's decision to send 30,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan has reawakened those memories of Vietnam's early days, and brought unsettling comparisons from an array of historians who have spent their careers studying Johnson. "I'll tell you, the more that I stayed awake last night thinking of this thing, the more I think of it, I don't know – it looks like to me we're getting into another Korea," Johnson said in 1964 during a tape-recorded conversation with national security adviser McGeorge Bundy. "It just worries the hell out of me. I don't see what we can ever hope to get out of it, once we're committed." McGovern, who campaigned hard for Johnson, said he had expected Johnson to pull back after gaining the presidency in his own right in 1964.

“I think this is a dreadful mistake on President Obama's part. It makes me sad. I am for him. I worked for him, and I still think he is a brilliant man. But it looks to me like Vietnam all over again.”

- Senator George McGovern, 2009

In September 2010, Peter Baker wrote “Woodward Book Says Afghanistan Divided White House” for The New York Times. Some of the critical players in President Obama’s national security team doubt his strategy in Afghanistan will succeed and have spent much of the last 20 months quarreling with one another over policy, personalities and turf, according to the new Bob Woodward book. The book, “Obama's Wars,” by the journalist Bob Woodward, depicts an administration deeply torn over the war in Afghanistan even as the president agreed to triple troop levels there amid suspicion that he was being boxed in by the military. Mr. Obama’s top White House adviser on Afghanistan and his special envoy for the region are described as believing the strategy will not work.
“I have to say that. I can’t let this be a war without end, and I can’t lose the whole Democratic Party.”

- President Barack Obama to Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, when asked about whether or not his deadline to withdraw was “firm”

“This needs to be a plan about how we're going to hand it off and get out of Afghanistan. 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.”

- Barack Obama, telling White House aides as he laid out his reasons for adding 30,000 troops in a short-term escalation

In September 2010, Steve Luxenberg wrote “Bob Woodward book details Obama battles with advisers over exit plan for Afghan war” for the Washington Post. 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. 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.

“It got to the point in the spring, after a top-secret update to the president in the Situation Room at the White House, the president left the meeting and told his aides: What makes us think that given the description of the problem, that we're going to design a solution to this?”

- Bob Woodward, author of Obama's Wars

No comments:

Post a Comment