Advancing a Free Society

Woodward book: Obama wanted too much for too little in Afghanistan

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I agree with Peter's criticisms of the White House as portrayed in Bob Woodward's new book. I would, however, amplify one more.

The White House is attempting to make the President Obama sound heroic for insisting on an exit strategy, when in fact the president's behavior -- as described in Woodward's book -- betrays a discouraging incapacity as commander in chief. The president repeatedly presses for an exit strategy and resents the military for not "giving him options." But it is the president's responsibility to set the exit strategy -- i.e., the political objectives whose achievement will determine cessation of our effort. And Obama did; he just didn't recognize it. Obama's overriding objective is handing over the work being done by the U.S. military as quickly as possible to the Afghan government. What is odd are the president's repeated refrains that the military should tell him what the political objectives for war termination should be.