Welcome Bob Woodward, and Host Greg Mitchell.

[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book.  Please take other conversations to a previous thread. - bev]

Bob Woodward’s inside-the-White-House books always provide scoops and provoke controversy and his new one, Obama’s Wars, is no different, but with one vital twist: It is less a look back than a look around. Readers don’t merely re-live or debate, say, a president’s decision to start a war – nothing much can change that – but how he is now conducting, even escalating, a conflict at a key moment. The book concludes with an Oval Office interview with President Obama less than three months ago.

Perhaps for that reason – the topical factor — there have been fewer complaints, this time around, about Woodward’s methods or speculation about who leaked what, and more discussion of Obama’s wisdom and policies, and who is really calling the shots on Afghanistan. I suspect Woodward likes it that way, as he takes his usual heavy promotional campaign far and wide.

The widely-respected Afghan war expert Steve Coll (a former Woodward colleague at The Washington Post) writes this week for The New Yorker, “The book minutely chronicles the President’s careful and, at times, dyspeptic efforts to construct a plausible approach to his inheritances in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as Woodward unfurls spreadsheet-like detail about decision-making previously known to the public only in broad outline….Woodward leaves us with Obama as a war president in full, an author of lives and deaths in combat.”

And, yes, he also leaves us with the sense of an intelligent leader fully engaged – with a deeply flawed, perhaps tragic, “surge” policy virtually dictated by the generals. A key message in the book is the difficulty Obama faced in even getting the military and Pentagon to give him a non-escalation option. As Andrew Bacevich has observed: “Bluntly put, the Pentagon gamed the process to exclude any possibility of Obama rendering a decision not to its liking.”

Reviewing the book in The Washington Post this week, Neil Sheehan, the former reporter and author of fine books about Vietnam, wrote about the “Vietnamization” of the current war, and concluded: “The Taliban obviously cannot defeat the U.S. Army in set-piece battles, but it does not have to do that to win the war. It can bleed us of men and treasure, year after year, until the American people have had enough.”

Looking at polls today, however, one might conclude that the American people have already “had enough” but the war goes on. Bacevich asks: “Why fight a war that even the general in charge says can’t be won? What will the perpetuation of this conflict cost? Does the ostensibly most powerful nation in the world have no choice but to wage permanent war?” Does Woodward really get at those questions in his book?

Some nuggets from the book:

– Obama: “I’m not doing 10 years….I’m not spending a trillion dollars.” Also: “I’m not signing on to a failure.”

–Gen. David Petraeus: “This is the kind of fight we’re in for the rest of our lives and probably our kids’ lives.”

–Colin Powell warns Obama about generals riding roughshod over him: “You don’t have to put up with this. You’re the commander in chief. These guys work for you. Because they’re unanimous in their advice doesn’t make it right.”

–Afghan leader Hamid Karzai is described as a manic depressive, with severe mood swings. Intelligence reports suggest he is erratic and “delusional.” Woodward writes that he is often described as “off his meds” and high on “weed.”

–Former CIA Director Michael Hayden tells Rahm Emanuel, concerning the escalating CIA drone strikes in Pakistan: “Unless you’re prepared to do this forever, you have to change the facts on the ground.”

–Leon Panetta, CIA director: “How can you fight a war and have safe havens across the border? It’s a crazy kind of war.”

No kidding.

An interesting angle brought up by several commentators on the book is Woodward’s role, last year, in allegedly making it difficult, even impossible, for Obama to resist the generals’ demands. This revolved around a leak to Woodward, published last September in the Washington Post, revealing that Gen. Stanley McChrystal, then leading our forces in the region, was privately demanding a 40,000 troop increase, claiming we surely faced defeat if he didn’t get it. Some say this really forced Obama’s hand and made the troop surge (it ended up only slightly smaller) certain.

Then there’s the enduring Woodward issue: Why do presidents and advisers end up talking to him so freely? Steve Coll tried to explain in an online chat: “He’s a Washington institution. It would be radical to defy him. It would be like trying to shut down the GAO—how do you go about it and think that you will end up better off?”

We will get to questions about those two aspects, but open by asking Woodward about dramatic events just this week: Pakistan closing a key border crossing after U.S. helicopter attacks on its territory, fresh charges of rampant corruption in the Karzai government, and reports that Karzai is stepping up negotiations with the Taliban. What does that suggest about the success of the “surge” and chances for the start of a pullout next year?

128 Responses to “FDL Book Salon Welcomes Bob Woodward, Obama’s Wars”

Greg Mitchell October 7th, 2010 at 11:55 am

Hello you early arrivals, chat to begin in a few minutes, hang on.

Greg Mitchell October 7th, 2010 at 11:59 am

Not sure there is a bio posted for me here, but: I currently write the Media Fix column at The Nation, until recently I served as the editor of Editor & Publisher magazine for many years, and I’ve written nine books, including one on Iraq and the media, “So Wrong for So Long.”

BevW October 7th, 2010 at 12:01 pm

Bob, Welcome back to the Lake.

Greg, Thank you for Hosting today’s Book Salon.

Teddy Partridge October 7th, 2010 at 12:01 pm

Thanks for chatting today, Mr Woodward. I’m enjoying this book, even if I’m not as far along as I’d hoped. With new characters it takes me longer, with more need to go back and cross-reference, than the last of the Bush books did. Early into it, though, I have some questions for you.

1 What does “persons with US passports” mean? You use this construction to describe people in ungoverned areas, I believe. I’ve seen it again used in media reports about the three (eight?) “persons with German passports” recently killed by a US drone strike as they joined others at a mosque to pray. Whose deniability is being protected by this construction? Is it used by those who’ve done the killing to distinguish from having killed citizens of another country? Or is it used by the country whose nationals are dead, to insulate themselves from charges that they failed to protect citizens?

2. Jack Keane is one of few characters who re-appears from the Bush books. As a character in you narrative, he serves to position Stanley McChrystal to succeed the US Afghanistan commander. Leaving aside the huge questions I have about Keane as a representative of a military strain that bridles at civilian control by cleverly manipulating the new civilian team just as he did the Cheney crowd, I’d simply like to know if Keane reappears when McChrystal (with an assist from his team) blots his copybook irretrievably in the Rolling Stone interview. Does Keane show remorse for having pushed McChrystal to the forefront? Also, is there any indication McChrystal will ever be held to account for his night-time leadership of the Dark Ops in Iraq?

3. In your time in the war theatre and interviewing our warfighters and their leadership, did you ever encounter such comments as Michael Hastings found so prevalent? Did those comments enter your narrative? What do you think of the charge that only a non-Versailles non-Villager journalist could have produced such a candid portrait, since everyone else who writes about Washington ‘knows’ to leave this commentary to the side? Do you ever wish that you had got stranded by the Iceland volcano in Europe and the war theatre with McChrystal and his team?

Thank you for this book, I’ve finally adapted my expectations to your style and parameters, and I think this may be your best book about the White House yet. Why do you think the Obama team afforded you this access?

Bob Woodward October 7th, 2010 at 12:02 pm

Hello, this is Bob Woodward. Delighted to take your questions.

Greg Mitchell October 7th, 2010 at 12:02 pm

Thanks for question but, folks, try to keep it to one at a time.

Gregg Levine October 7th, 2010 at 12:02 pm

Welcome, Greg–it’s great you were available to host today’s chat.

And Welcome, Mr. Woodward–thank you for taking the time to join us here at FDL.

Greg Mitchell October 7th, 2010 at 12:04 pm

Bob, thanks for being here, if you want to could address my lead-in question on the events of this past week in Afghan/Pakistan and they suggest this “surge” really is in trouble.

dakine01 October 7th, 2010 at 12:05 pm

Good Afternoon Greg and Bob and welcome to FDL this afternoon

Bob, I have not had an opportunity to read this book but do wonder why you keep receiving access to the powers that be for these books. Do the various participants not ever read your earlier books, do they think they will receive a different treatment, or do they perceive that your writing a book is the official imprimatur of an administration?

Bob Woodward October 7th, 2010 at 12:06 pm

In answer to Greg’s first question, in the secret strategy sessions, President Obama says the focus of the trouble and the “cancer” in these wars is Pakistan. That nation has been in the news all week. The president and his team are desperately looking for a way to leverage or coerce Pakistan into being more aggressive in eliminating the safe havens that are used by both al Qaeda and the Taliban insurgency. It’s clear that President Obama faces a series of critical decisions. Pakistan is the powder keg of South Asia and things could blow up at any time.

lsls October 7th, 2010 at 12:06 pm

Can’t wait to read the book!

Mr. Woodward, what is President Obama’s relationship with Mr. Kissinger, if any?? Does he come to the WH to advise on occasion?

Cynthia Kouril October 7th, 2010 at 12:06 pm

One of the things that really was an eye opener for me, was the revelation that the Pentagon was not focused on the wars in Afg, and Iraq in 2008, but rather in preparing for some unknown war of the future to be fought around 2015.

That is was all about R&D for high tech weapons systems for them.

It made me wonder how much of that has to do with generals laying the ground work to get hired by grateful defense contractors after they retire?

It’s just astoundng to me that with 2 wars going on, there would be focus on anything else at the Pentagon. That’s what DOD is for, isn’t it? To fight the wars we have?

Knox October 7th, 2010 at 12:08 pm

Welcome Greg and Mr. Woodward.

The title of the book is Obama’s Wars, but it seems like they went from being Bush’s wars to being the generals’ wars. In the case of Afghanistan, for example, the book makes it seem as though Obama had a hard time getting the generals to give him anything other than what they wanted to give him.

At the time, I thought Obama was right to set the stage for better conditions that would allow for a more orderly withdrawal. Now it looks like the generals played him.

Greg Mitchell October 7th, 2010 at 12:09 pm
In response to Bob Woodward @ 10

Which seems to mean that events, and the future, may be largely out of our own hands.

Zaid Jilani October 7th, 2010 at 12:09 pm

Did you ever have any indication that there is any hesitation among officials in the Obama Administration about expanding the US war into Pakistan? Were there administration officials who argued against expanding special operations/drone strikes in the country? Have there been discussions about striking in Quetta?

Bob Woodward October 7th, 2010 at 12:09 pm
In response to dakine01 @ 9

I had 18 months, which is enough time to develop multiple sources and obtain real-time notes and documents that provide the spine of the narrative in this book. I definitely am non-partisan, and these books are neutral examinations of the various White Houses. By going back again and again to key sources, it’s possible to come up with a cinematic version of what happened. The goal here is to provide the first real look at President Obama behind the scenes, how he actually makes decisions, analyzes and even shows strong emotions.

Peterr October 7th, 2010 at 12:09 pm

Welcome, Mr. Woodward!

Does your book cover debates and discussions of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell within the Obama White House and DOD? How did DADT play into the back-and-forth with the military over Iraq, Afghanistan, and the broader wars you cover?

eCAHNomics October 7th, 2010 at 12:10 pm

Welcome Bob Woodward. I’m about thru Chap 6, so if my Qs are answered in your book later, just let me know.

Looks to me like the military hosed Obama, so green in these matters he’s dripping behind the ears, make him scared of his own shadow, by exaggerating every little danger. Your language is more moderate than what I’ve just typed, but Greg & the reviews he cites all seem to focus on the same thing. What would you add on the subject? Are you surprised this has been a major takeaway, or did you intend it? Has O ever smartened up?

Jim White October 7th, 2010 at 12:10 pm

Hi Greg, thanks for hosting.

Hi Bob, thanks for joining us today.

(And as always, thanks to Bev for organizing.)

Bob, one of the most talked about passages in the book is very early on, where you discuss the “retribution” plan in the wake of a terrorist attack on US interests by terrorists who can be traced to the tribal regions of Pakistan:
Under this plan, the U.S. would bomb or attack every known al Qaeda compound or training camp in the U.S. intelligence database. Some locations might be outdated, but there would be no concern, under the plan, for who might be living there now. The retribution plan called for abrutal, punishing attack on at least 150 or more associated camps.”

I have two questions about that. First, this passage comes in your description of the Mumbai attacks and after noting some Americans died, you quote Bush as saying that these attacks were like 9/11. That begs the question of how close Bush came to implementing the plan. Did he consider it? Was he in favor? Did someone talk him out of it, or did he talk someone else out of it?

The second question brings us to the current situation in Pakistan. Some of the stories on the recently elevated rate of drone attacks and the Shahzad sentencing mention the “retribution” plan and that it would be implemented by Obama after an attack on a US city. The question here is how likely you think Obama would be to implement the plan and whether he would do it after another “failed” attack like Shahzad’s or if he would only do it after a catastrophic attack.

eCAHNomics October 7th, 2010 at 12:11 pm
In response to Bob Woodward @ 10

Has the U.S. military developed plans for a more extensive bombing of Pakistan or other more aggressive military actions against Pak?

Greg Mitchell October 7th, 2010 at 12:11 pm

Yes, Bob, several questions on whether the military “gamed” Obama.

Cynthia Kouril October 7th, 2010 at 12:11 pm

Another thing that struck me, and I wonder if you could elaborate on it, was that the Bush Admonistration seemed to have had no plan in Afg. at all. Was this because they were focused soley on Iraq all along?

Teddy Partridge October 7th, 2010 at 12:13 pm

Splitting up my questions, then:

Jack Keane is one of few characters who re-appears from the Bush books. As a character in you narrative, he serves to position Stanley McChrystal to succeed the US Afghanistan commander. Leaving aside the huge questions I have about Keane as a representative of a military strain that bridles at civilian control by cleverly manipulating the new civilian team just as he did the Cheney crowd, I’d simply like to know if Keane reappears when McChrystal (with an assist from his team) blots his copybook irretrievably in the Rolling Stone interview. Does Keane show remorse for having pushed McChrystal to the forefront? Also, is there any indication McChrystal will ever be held to account for his night-time leadership of the Dark Ops in Iraq?

Knox October 7th, 2010 at 12:13 pm
In response to Greg Mitchell @ 21

I’m looking forward to the responses to eCAHN’s questions @ 18.

Bob Woodward October 7th, 2010 at 12:13 pm
In response to Knoxville @ 13

The uniformed military, Secretary of Defense Gates and Secretary of State Clinton present a unified front during these secret meetings. They want the president to add 40,000 troops and approve a more open-ended strategy. The book shows the president can’t get real additional options from the military. He pushes very hard but in the end has to devise his own strategy — 30,000 troops with the beginning of some kind of troop withdrawal next July. Many readers have been astonished that the president can’t get choices from the military, but the military is convinced their recommendation is the only path to success. The relationships between the White House and the military are still unsettled, and there’s a good deal of uncertainty about what is going to happen in the next year.

Gregg Levine October 7th, 2010 at 12:14 pm

Mr. Woodward, Spencer Ackerman recently called our attention to this quote:

When Maj. Gen. John M. Custer was the director of intelligence at U.S. Central Command, he grew angry at how little helpful information came out of the NCTC. In 2007, he visited its director at the time, retired Vice Adm. John Scott Redd, to tell him so. “I told him that after 41/2 years, this organization had never produced one shred of information that helped me prosecute three wars!” he said loudly, leaning over the table during an interview.

(Emphasis mine)

There is Iraq, there is Afghanistan, any idea as to what Custer thinks is war number three? More broadly, does the WH consider itself only fighting two wars, or do they talk about more than two themselves?

susiemadrak October 7th, 2010 at 12:15 pm

Many readers have been astonished that the president can’t get choices from the military, but the military is convinced their recommendation is the only path to success.

Aren’t you, in essence, describing a military coup?

If not, what’s the difference?

Bob Woodward October 7th, 2010 at 12:17 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 18

Many readers and some of the individuals in the book think the military rolled the president. For example, General Petraeus, the commander in Afghanistan, told others that the 30,000 was enough and he believed if he showed progress on the ground in Afghanistan more time could be added to the clock. Obama was under a lot of pressure from his White House political advisers to give the military less. For example, on the eve of his strategy decision last year, he told advisers, in reference to Rahm Emanuel, then his chief of staff, “Nothing would make Rahm happier than if I said no to the 30,000.” So Obama, in devising his own strategy, found some kind of a middle ground.

BooRadley October 7th, 2010 at 12:18 pm

Bob, just a drive-by, great to have you at FDL, thanks for all your work.

Greg Mitchell October 7th, 2010 at 12:19 pm

Bob, would like to give you a chance to respond to the claims that your McChrystal “leak” last year published in the Postwas designed to, and did, have a powerful effect in the pressure on Obama to go along with the military on the troop surge.

Teddy Partridge October 7th, 2010 at 12:19 pm
In response to Bob Woodward @ 28

I have a question about journalistic conventions. Is this statement in quotes a direct quote from your interview with the President in July of this year, or is this a summation of his view relayed to you by another source?

Greg Mitchell October 7th, 2010 at 12:21 pm
In response to Bob Woodward @ 28

I see what you’re saying but I would not call 30,000 vs. 40,000 as a “middle ground”–especially since Obama had already doubled the troop levels there.

Bob Woodward October 7th, 2010 at 12:22 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 20

The U.S. military has a secret “retribution plan” that would involve attacks or bombing of 150 terrorist sites. Last spring, General James Jones, Obama’s national security adviser, and CIA Director Leon Panetta told the Pakistani leadership that if an attack on the United States homeland was traced to groups in Pakistan, the political pressure on the president to respond would be so great that Obama might not be able to control the situation. It’s a dicey game the Pakistanis are playing. On one hand, they’re a U.S. ally. On the other, their intelligence service supports and maybe even controls some of the terrorist groups within their borders. The U.S. is also playing a dicey game, because it’s clear the drone attacks and other operations violate Pakistani sovereignty. Watch the news carefully.

Jane Hamsher October 7th, 2010 at 12:22 pm

Hi Bob thanks for being here again, and Greg, thanks so much for hosting.

I’ve heard Democratic insiders say that putting Petraeus in charge of Afghanistan was in part a political decision, to sideline him as a potential GOP challenger in 2012. Is that anything you picked up?

eCAHNomics October 7th, 2010 at 12:22 pm

One of your quotes early on was that O wanted to make Afghanistan “his” war. Why? Does he really think he can win it, in light of all history to the contrary? If O thinks he can win, how does he think it can happen? When was the latest date you talked to anyone about it? The verdict of the W years was that he was not losing it, but not winning it. The verdict now, with many more troops, would be much more pessimistic than that.

ThingsComeUndone October 7th, 2010 at 12:22 pm

Art of War suggests we only war for profit. A Natural Gas Pipeline i Afghanistan seems impossible we can’t defend that much area.
Iraq well has oil production increased I was buying gas a bunch cheaper before the wars.
Are the oil companies desires more equal than the American Peoples?

Knox October 7th, 2010 at 12:22 pm
In response to Bob Woodward @ 25

…and there’s a good deal of uncertainty about what is going to happen in the next year.

Increasingly, it’s becoming hard not to get the impression that there won’t be a withdrawal as Obama sold it. In fairness to Obama, I think he believed it when he was selling it.

It doesn’t seem like it was just a unified front at secret meetings. There were cases of generals playing their hands publicly, and rather deftly, too.

Tim Shorrock October 7th, 2010 at 12:22 pm

Mr Woodward, I didn’t see anything in your latest book about the intelligence technologies you described in your last book as a breakthrough akin to the Manhattan Project. You were referring to ways that the NSA and NGA combine signals and geospatial intelligence to track and kill terrorist and Taliban leaders. Aren’t those technologies being used with even greater effect in the drone wars in Pakistan and Afghanistan? Thanks for your answers.

eCAHNomics October 7th, 2010 at 12:23 pm
In response to Bob Woodward @ 33

Watch the news carefully.

You got that right. Have to wear diapers while I watch, though.

ThingsComeUndone October 7th, 2010 at 12:23 pm
In response to Bob Woodward @ 28

Where can America pay for this middle ground Social Security?

Jim White October 7th, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Like several others questioners, I’m not as far along in the book as I wanted to be, but I was struck by the early interaction (or, more accurately, non-interaction) of Obama with Michael Hayden and the CIA leading up to the December 9, 2008 briefing. Obama’s behavior to that point was very much what would be expected if he were committed to a path of punishing those guilty of torture. Yet, he completely capitulated and is in the process of trying to wipe all memory of CIA torture from the country’s memory. What caused such a dramatic change in his behavior? [And apologies in advance if this addressed in a part of the book I haven't reached yet.]

Larue-Clique Member Since LibbyGate October 7th, 2010 at 12:24 pm
In response to Bob Woodward @ 25

Welcome Greg Mitchell and thanks for hosting.

Welcomer Bob Woodward and thanks for guesting.

As Mr. White notes, thanks Bev for your work in setting these salon’s up.

1) Can’t wait to read more as this proceeds and previe questions are addressed. Pups are posing incredible questions as usual.

2) In response your comment @25 . . . does this scenario NOT suggest that, despite the concentrated/expanded power of The Executive thru Bush and now Obama, that the military as a de facto agent of corporate power has implemented somewhat of a COUP over The Executive? Cuz it sure looks like it to me. Not that Obama is not an agent of the corporate oligarchy in charge, he most certainly is. But The Military Punked Him.

Your thoughts?

Bob Woodward October 7th, 2010 at 12:25 pm
In response to Greg Mitchell @ 30

I think publication of the McChrystal assessment last year helped focus the Obama administration and the public on a critical decision. McChrystal said in his classified report that he would have to get more troops or the mission in Afghanistan would likely fail. In the end, I think it informed the White House deliberations because intense public discussion about the assessment highlighted both the importance of the war and the precarious position the ground commander found himself in.

radiofreewill October 7th, 2010 at 12:25 pm

Bob, thanks for coming to the Lake!

Could you give a quick sketch of the biggest leadership-style differences you’ve observed between Presidents Bush and Obama?

Greg Mitchell October 7th, 2010 at 12:27 pm
In response to Bob Woodward @ 43

But this didn’t make Obama resisting the escalation almost impossible?

Bob Woodward October 7th, 2010 at 12:28 pm
In response to Jane Hamsher @ 34

In a practical sense, President Obama had only one choice to be the new Afghanistan commander when he fired General McChrystal in June. Petraeus, who helped stabilize and reduce violence in Iraq, was clearly the most experienced commander. At the same time, the White House political advisers have voiced some private concern that Petraeus might go into politics and run against Obama in 2012. Petraeus has vehemently and repeatedly denied that he has political ambitions.

eCAHNomics October 7th, 2010 at 12:29 pm

Bob,

I’m astonished about how much you reveal about the USG secret plans, sources & methods; almost as delicious as wikileaks. How did you get all your sources to tell you this for publication, even if not for attribution?

Bob Woodward October 7th, 2010 at 12:31 pm
In response to radiofreewill @ 44

Bush always said he was a “gut player” and not a “textbook player”. It’s evident from my reporting that Obama is a passionate textbook player. He is cerebral and heavily engaged in analyzing all aspects of the Afghanistan war. We don’t know – and may not know for a long time – whether he came up with an answer that will put the United States in a position to responsibly withdraw some force next year and eventually realize Obama’s goal of handing off security responsibility to the Afghans and withdrawing U.S. forces.

ThingsComeUndone October 7th, 2010 at 12:31 pm

Cost benefit wars in Iraq or Afghanistan vs Green Energy

We have the product but what about the cost of Fuel Cell cars and Hydrogen? Are the costs still to expensive to produce commercially yet? not really

These new appropriations bring total war-related spending for Iraq to $747.3 billion and for Afghanistan to $299 billion, with total war costs of $1.05 trillion1

http://www.nationalpriorities.org/2009/1/11/Cost-of-war-tallies-through-FY2010

we spent $475 billion on foreign oil in 2008 alone. That’s money taken out of our economy and sent to foreign nations, and it will continue to drain the life from our economy for as long as we fail to stop the bleeding.
Projected over the next 10 years the cost will be $10 trillion

http://www.pickensplan.com/theplan/

My bold Add $1.05 trillion to the $10 trillion Pickens says we will spend on oil in ten years then tell me Fuel Cell cars cost more.

Now imagine what Rural America would be like with $11.05 trillion dollars in spending on building hydrogen plants, wind mills, solar power, hydropower, tidal power and the pipelines and transport vehicles to fuel the cars and trucks that our country needs.

http://seminal.firedoglake.com/diary/67857

We can starve Ossama if we go green of his Arab oil friends giving him cash if we go green given 10 years of war tell me going green is not the better investment!

hackworth1 October 7th, 2010 at 12:32 pm

Petraeus has vehemently and repeatedly denied that he has political ambitions.

Do you view this assertion as a precursor to Petraeus reluctantly throwing his hat in the ring? I do.

fuckno October 7th, 2010 at 12:32 pm
In response to Bob Woodward @ 43

Bob,

“McChrystal said in his classified report that he would have to get more troops or the mission in Afghanistan would likely fail.”

Could you please clarify for us what the mission in Afghanistan is?

Greg Mitchell October 7th, 2010 at 12:32 pm

Folks, please stick to asking questions.

Larue-Clique Member Since LibbyGate October 7th, 2010 at 12:33 pm
In response to Bob Woodward @ 46

A war general will most certainly run in ’12, for one party or the other.

Are we headed for perpetual war? Is that the drive for the corporate oligarchy?

I ask that assuming all our elected officials are fully bought and paid for by the corporate oligarchy.

Peterr October 7th, 2010 at 12:33 pm
In response to Bob Woodward @ 46

Interesting . . . but it doesn’t exactly answer the question that Jane asked: “Is that anything you picked up?”

Petraeus denies that he has political ambitions, but as the WH was discussing who to name as McChrystal’s replacement, did anyone at the WH indicate that naming Petraeus would be a good move to protect against a “Petraeus 2012″ presidential run?

Bob Woodward October 7th, 2010 at 12:34 pm
In response to Tim Shorrock @ 38

The first chapter of the book describes how Obama was briefed on the RTRG (Real Time Regional Gateway) capability of the National Security Agency. This is a big breakthrough that allows the near-instantaneous access to enemy communications and operations.

Teddy Partridge October 7th, 2010 at 12:34 pm
In response to Greg Mitchell @ 52

Why?

The selection bias is overwhelming.

Propagandee October 7th, 2010 at 12:34 pm

Bob:

It’s been nearly 60 years since Eisenhower warned against the rise of the Military Industrial Complex. Would you consider his “prophecy” a fait accompli? Just how powerful are they?

ThingsComeUndone October 7th, 2010 at 12:36 pm
In response to Bob Woodward @ 43

McChrystal said in his classified report that he would have to get more troops or the mission in Afghanistan would likely fail.

Uh after 10 years either I hear we can win in 6 months or you are wasting my time? Look if the rich want to pay for failure then just say so. You can have a special war tax increase to pay for the wars!

LiberalHeart October 7th, 2010 at 12:36 pm

Mr. Woodward, if I were able to read only one section of your book, which one would you recommend and why?

Larue-Clique Member Since LibbyGate October 7th, 2010 at 12:37 pm

I see questions in every comment so far. Am eager to read all the replies.

Greg Mitchell October 7th, 2010 at 12:37 pm

Note to attendees: Bob is deciding which of the many questions to answer, I am not making the choices, although posing some of my own.

Bob Woodward October 7th, 2010 at 12:38 pm
In response to fuckno @ 51

That is a good question. As articulated in the president’s secret orders, the goal is to dismantle and defeat the al Qaeda terrorist network and degrade the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan to the level that that insurgency is no longer capable of overthrowing the elected Karzai government. Clearly the focus is al Qaeda, but as many – including Vice President Biden – have pointed out, there are very few, probably less than 100, al Qaeda in Afghanistan. The Obama administration’s worry is that al Qaeda would move back into Afghanistan if the Taliban took over there again. But this is a subject of intense debate among intelligence experts and administration officials.

Larue-Clique Member Since LibbyGate October 7th, 2010 at 12:38 pm
In response to Greg Mitchell @ 61

Thanks, there certainly are a myriad of questions being asked.

ThingsComeUndone October 7th, 2010 at 12:39 pm
In response to Greg Mitchell @ 52

Fine Bob any of these Generals ever read the Art of War can they expect America to pay for victory by America I mean everyone or is SS the payment? Don’t be afraid not to answer that will be taken as confirmation.

Bob Woodward October 7th, 2010 at 12:39 pm
In response to LiberalHeart @ 59

I’ll be honest with you, the goal was to write a book that was short enough to be read all the way through. Start with the first chapter and email me if you can’t finish, and I’ll try to motivate you to read on.

leftdcin72 October 7th, 2010 at 12:40 pm

Does the Taliban’s treatment reported mistreatment of women through their application of sharia and the the Taliban’s reported failure to provide education opportunities to women form any part of Obama’s decision making process? or is this war just a military issue vis a vis a hostile force?

perris October 7th, 2010 at 12:40 pm

always terrific seeing Bob Woodward here at the lake!

I think I really want to ask one insiders question Bob, does Obama really despise the people he considers “the left” (who are really the center but that’s another book”

Is he a corporate tool the way his policies are indicating or is he simply being played on every hand

LiberalHeart October 7th, 2010 at 12:42 pm
In response to Bob Woodward @ 65

Smooth answer there. What I was trying to get at is this: What do you consider the most important nugget in your book? I’m thinking that there was something during the writing process that you were most invested in communicating, one thing you wanted to be sure everyone “got.”

masaccio October 7th, 2010 at 12:43 pm
In response to Bob Woodward @ 46

Your answers suggest that the Obama administration has settled on a specific mission in Afghanistan. The President said in his speech expanding the war effort that the goals were to 1) deny al-Qaeda a safe haven in Afghanistan, 2) reverse the momentum of the Taliban so that it cannot overthrow the current government, and 3) strengthen the government of Afghanistan so that it could take over the struggle with the Taliban.

Does anyone really think that the third goal can be reached with the corrupt regime in Afghanistan? Is it possible to achieve the second goal with any realistic number of US soldiers given the current corrupt government? Can you tell us if there was any evidence presented by the military that this goal was possible in any reasonable period of time?

Bob Woodward October 7th, 2010 at 12:44 pm
In response to Propagandee @ 57

The military industrial complex is alive and well. It was a powerful warning from President Eisenhower nearly 50 years ago and one I think all presidents including President Obama are deeply concerned with. In announcing his Afghan-Pakistan strategy last year, the president cited a different part of that speech, the one where Eisenhower said it was important to balance all national programs, including the domestic goals, and not be singularly focused on foreign policy and wars.

perris October 7th, 2010 at 12:44 pm

Bob, I would like to know if you believe most of the generals are part of the military industrial complex out for a profit or, (hopefully) a select few

Greg Mitchell October 7th, 2010 at 12:44 pm

I do have to laugh when I see references to the “elected government of Karzai.”

eCAHNomics October 7th, 2010 at 12:46 pm

Bob, did you ever talk with anyone in the Administration about the cost of winning in Afghanistan in terms of the domestic objectives that would have to be sacrificed in the process, i.e., the classical guns vs. butter trade-off. Or, like LBJ, does O think he can do both?

Rayne October 7th, 2010 at 12:46 pm
In response to Bob Woodward @ 43

I was going to circle back to Greg’s comment in the introduction:

An interesting angle brought up by several commentators on the book is Woodward’s role, last year, in allegedly making it difficult, even impossible, for Obama to resist the generals’ demands. This revolved around a leak to Woodward, published last September in the Washington Post, revealing that Gen. Stanley McChrystal, then leading our forces in the region, was privately demanding a 40,000 troop increase, claiming we surely faced defeat if he didn’t get it. Some say this really forced Obama’s hand and made the troop surge (it ended up only slightly smaller) certain.

And in comments at (43) you write,

I think publication of the McChrystal assessment last year helped focus the Obama administration and the public on a critical decision.

as if the publication was not a forced event out of either Gen. McChrystal’s or President Obama’s choice of timing, in essence forcing the situation before Obama could sit down and meet privately with McChrystal about any other options.

Did it concern you at the time of the leak of this report that the release would work against the White House?

Bob Woodward October 7th, 2010 at 12:47 pm
In response to LiberalHeart @ 68

Smooth follow-up question. The key thing to understand is Pakistan, the center and safe haven for the real threats from al Qaeda and the Taliban insurgency. Suppose for a moment the Pakistan problem was solved and the safe havens effectively eliminated. Al Qaeda would likely move somewhere else, but the Taliban could be in real trouble. The Pakistani intelligence service provides secret support to the Taliban, support they probably would not be able to get in any other country. So the answer to your question is: Pakistan, Pakistan, Pakistan.

fuckno October 7th, 2010 at 12:47 pm
In response to Bob Woodward @ 62

Bob,

Common sense and well documented Historical facts suggest that the Taliban are there to stay, for no other reason that they live there, while we are regarded by the majority of the population outside of Kabul as invaders. The 9/11 event was organized in large part in Hamburg. Following the intelligence experts debates, why do we not pick up on their logic and bomb Hamburg? Or is logic merely a foil for say, geo-strategic considerations of an empire oblivious to its own crumbling foundations, and legitimacy?

Greg Mitchell October 7th, 2010 at 12:50 pm
In response to Bob Woodward @ 75

Perhaps Obama will pull a Nixon and really go into Pakistan? Wonder if campuses would explode again….

Teddy Partridge October 7th, 2010 at 12:51 pm

Mr Woodward, is the term ‘manic-depressive’ applied to President Karzai your word or that of your sources? It’s not the current clinical term; as I understand it, doctors now use the word ‘bipolar.’ Or is this not a clinical diagnosis but a political one?

lsls October 7th, 2010 at 12:51 pm
In response to Bob Woodward @ 33

“On the other, their intelligence service supports and maybe even controls some of the terrorist groups within their borders.”

Ay, there’s the crux.

Bob Woodward October 7th, 2010 at 12:51 pm
In response to Greg Mitchell @ 72

Good point. The election last year was riddled with fraud, but there was no way anyone in the U.S. government could unravel what had happened. So Karzai is elected in such a way that no one has been able to effectively challenge the results. By all accounts, Karzai is an erratic, unreliable partner. The U.S. intelligence reports say he is a manic depressive who unfortunately gets off his medication at times. Just follow his public comments and you see somebody who seems to embrace the United States one moment and then condemn the United States the next. As the U.S. ambassador in Afghanistan, retired General Karl Eikenberry, says, Karzai is “on his meds, off his meds”. He is among the hardest cases in this war.

Larue-Clique Member Since LibbyGate October 7th, 2010 at 12:52 pm
In response to Bob Woodward @ 75

That was a good one, thanks.

WHY is the ISI so invested in Talibani affairs?

Tribal loyalties? What’s the connect?

(I gotta go back and look at Pak/Afghan leaderships when Russia was in fghan for some history)

eCAHNomics October 7th, 2010 at 12:52 pm
In response to fuckno @ 76

Shhh. You’re not supposed to mention that. Nor are you supposed to mention that the 9/11 attackers were Saudis, not Taliban, who are interested in having their own country, not in attacking the U.S. These are the words-that-must-not-be-spoken. The words-that-must-be-spoken are Noun, Verb, 9/11, AQ, Taliban. More we don’t need to know.

Teddy Partridge October 7th, 2010 at 12:52 pm
In response to Greg Mitchell @ 77

With one drone attack a day, an argument can be made that we ARE in Pakistan. It certainly is likely to seem so to the Pakistanis.

hackworth1 October 7th, 2010 at 12:53 pm
In response to Bob Woodward @ 75

How much financial support does the Taliban receive from American Military Contractors like Blackwater/XE? Isn’t it sufficient (along with terrist acts they commit) to support them without Pakistan’s help?

kt2kelly October 7th, 2010 at 12:54 pm

This will be the only book in Bushits LIE—-brary!!!!!!!

eCAHNomics October 7th, 2010 at 12:54 pm
In response to Bob Woodward @ 80

you see somebody who seems to embrace the United States one moment and then condemn the United States the next.

Sounds like the definition of a highly sane, intelligent man to me. The U.S. is ripping Afghanistan apart, so is to be condemned, but is a threat to Karzai (can you spell assassination), so is to be embraced.

ThingsComeUndone October 7th, 2010 at 12:54 pm
In response to kt2kelly @ 85

Seconded:)

Bob Woodward October 7th, 2010 at 12:55 pm
In response to Greg Mitchell @ 77

President Obama is going to have to do something with the Pakistani leadership and sort out the loyalties and contradictory cross-currents in Pakistani behavior. I’m not sure he has to go to Pakistan, but it might be wise to have Pakistani President Zardari and the head of the Pakistani army, General Kayani, who has the most power, to Washington for some serious negotiations.

HelenaHandbasket October 7th, 2010 at 12:56 pm

Does the RTRG (Real Time Regional Gateway) capability suggest that OBL is alive or dead, in Pakistan, Chechnya or elsewhere?

Bob Woodward October 7th, 2010 at 12:57 pm
In response to Larue @ 81

Traditionally Pakistan has worried about being surrounded – India to the east and Afghanistan to the west – so the Pakistani intelligence service, the ISI, wants to keep its hand in Afghanistan and make sure they have influence and connections. Regrettably, one avenue has been clandestine support of the Taliban.

emptywheel October 7th, 2010 at 12:58 pm
In response to Bob Woodward @ 62

Recent disclosures in the UK have made it clear that the US and UK agreed, as early as October 2001, that they could only indefinitely detain those they captured in response to 9/11 so long as they had a credible war in Afghanistan. Particularly given the way the Obama Administration is hanging its efforts in Yemen and Somalia and elsewhere on the Afghan AUMF (to criticism from a few Bush people), isn’t that even more of a rationale for war in Afghanistan? That is, to keep the AUMF alive and with it all the expanded Commander in Chief powers used in attacks elsewhere?

BevW October 7th, 2010 at 12:59 pm

As we come to the end of this Book Salon,

Bob, Thank you for stopping by the Lake and spending time with us discussing your new book and the Obama Administration.

Greg, Thank you very much for returning and Hosting this great Book Salon.

Everyone, if you would like more information:
Bob’s website
Greg’s website

Thanks all.

emptywheel October 7th, 2010 at 12:59 pm
In response to masaccio @ 69

And furthermore, if those were the goals, then why are we making peace w/the Taliban?

patrickhenrypress October 7th, 2010 at 1:00 pm

I look forward to reading your new book.

As we have built gigantic facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan, I can’t personally imagine us leaving either country in the near future. Since we have a myriad of problems on the horizon (not the least of which are the effects of global warming on crops and drinking water for 1.5 billion people and the likelihood that Russia/China might move to destabilize nations for their own ends), in addition to AQ and the Taliban, do you get a sense the Pentagon is planning for something far more expansive than what is playing out now? Is the interest in Pakistan more than simply rooting out the Taliban? Would another military coup in Pakistan be welcomed by the Obama administration, or are they committed to working with the current administration exclusively? And, as further evidence of a broader agenda, is Iran the “third war” mentioned in the slip of the tongue, above?

Larue-Clique Member Since LibbyGate October 7th, 2010 at 1:01 pm
In response to Bob Woodward @ 90

Interesting, thanks.

perris October 7th, 2010 at 1:01 pm

hey emptywheel, I wonder if bob knows you and he share a journalism credit, you’re both members of a select few who’ve earned the hillman award

Bob Woodward October 7th, 2010 at 1:01 pm
In response to Peterr @ 17

This will have to be my last response. Thanks for the probing questions and interest in the book.

Unfortunately the book does not deal with the important debate on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. I selected the Afghan war, the war on terror and the secret war in Pakistan as the focus because President Obama is intensely involved in their management and the debates about what to do on these issues. I think it’s the best window into how his mind works and what his values are. He is quoted in thousands of words in the book so you can see precisely how he handled the pressures, the dilemmas and the nightmares of war.

Greg Mitchell October 7th, 2010 at 1:02 pm

Thanks to all and to Bob. I will be in his spot on December 11 in a chat here about my book, “The Campaign of the Century: Upton Sinclair’s Race for Governor and the Birth of Media Politics,” which goes on sale tonight via the PoliPoint Press site. http://p3books.com/ Thanks again.

hackworth1 October 7th, 2010 at 1:03 pm
In response to Bob Woodward @ 97

I can’t tell when Tom Cruise is acting or when he is being himself.

Larue-Clique Member Since LibbyGate October 7th, 2010 at 1:04 pm

Sigh, so many questions . . . . thank to all for bringing this to The Lake, though.

It was interesting and revealing in many ways.

eCAHNomics October 7th, 2010 at 1:05 pm
In response to hackworth1 @ 99

Can you tell the diff between Cruise & David Iglesias?

hackworth1 October 7th, 2010 at 1:06 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 101

You caught my drift. I loved your Noun Verb and 9ll remark. Brilliant.

Larue-Clique Member Since LibbyGate October 7th, 2010 at 1:06 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 101

Only when their mouths aren’t moving.

indiepro October 7th, 2010 at 1:07 pm

Thank you FDL, Bob Woodward and Greg Mitchell.

Greg Mitchell October 7th, 2010 at 1:10 pm

Still left with Andrew Bacevich’s question: “Does the ostensibly most powerful nation in the world have no choice but to wage permanent war?”

eCAHNomics October 7th, 2010 at 1:12 pm
In response to hackworth1 @ 102

Thanks.

Having hosted a book salon, I have some experience with what is possible. It’s hard keeping track of what has been asked, answered, and even more difficult (on the questioner end of the process) to tell whether Qs go unanswered deliberately or just because there’s so much going on and to read & then to type is a challenge. But you can certainly read more than you can respond to, so hopefully that gentle poke got attention.

bmaz October 7th, 2010 at 1:13 pm

Bernstein would have stuck around to answer more questions……

eCAHNomics October 7th, 2010 at 1:13 pm
In response to Larue @ 103

Heh.

patrickhenrypress October 7th, 2010 at 1:19 pm
In response to Greg Mitchell @ 105

The answer, for more than one reason, is “yes.”

If only we had listened to Jefferson and became a nation of “gentleman farmers.”

I mean, what’s a nation bristling with weapons manufactured by contractors employing expensive American labor going to do to drum up future business for its most prized benefactors (after bankers and insurance company executives)? You can’t sell advanced weapons systems if everyone wants to just sit around and pick daisies, for cryin’ out loud!

That, and the tiny detail that we don’t have exports makes us a warrior nation, I’m afraid.

Peterr October 7th, 2010 at 1:20 pm
In response to Bob Woodward @ 97

Thanks for the belated reply.

I would have thought that a policy that removes highly trained and specialized soldiers from the field of battle — people like translators — would be relevant to fighting the war in Afghanistan, the war on terror, and the secret war in Pakistan. Sorry you didn’t see it that way, and thus left out this aspect of the decisions around fighting these wars.

My gut tells me that to the extent that the WH wants repeal and the DOD does not, the WH probably made the political calculation to throw gay, lesbian, and bisexual members of the military under the proverbial bus, so as not to anger the DOD and therefore to be able to win other arguments with the DOD. “OK, we won’t push on DADT, but you’ve got to give a little too on . . . ”

Even if this didn’t make it into your book, you still could write up what you learned about this “important debate” and publish it in the Washington Post as an article.

PPDCUS October 7th, 2010 at 1:24 pm
In response to bmaz @ 107

That would necessitate retitling their original book … Only Some of Certain Presidents’ Men

patrickhenrypress October 7th, 2010 at 1:36 pm
In response to PPDCUS @ 111

LOL, Yes, it is very suspicious. Once the more in-depth questions begin appearing, he plugs his book and makes a hasty retreat.

On the other hand, we got his attention for about as long as any host on TV! He always seems to be in a hurry to get somewhere.

Next time he appears, let’s talk him into an afternoon social.

dakine01 October 7th, 2010 at 1:41 pm

FWIW, I think this Book Salon was only scheduled to go for an hour. If you notice, Bev put up her announcement that the Book Salon was coming to an end prior to Woodward posting that he was doing his final response.

papau October 7th, 2010 at 1:55 pm

Pak intel – the ISI – sold Clinton out on the attack on bin Laden in 1998, and have, with Pak Military protection, been selling the US out ever since.

Latest revelations of Taliban funding and providing leadership and training to Taliban by ISI is just same old, same old.

Indeed the border crossing closing followed by tanker truck destruction is classic Mafia – pay me for protection – as they cause the need for protection.

But in Woodwards book none of this comes out. I do not understand why a book on Obama’s Afghanistan adventure did not turn out to be at least 50% on the ISI and how each Obama adviser tries to ignore the obvious.

Propagandee October 7th, 2010 at 2:05 pm

Reading between the lines of Woodward’s response to my question about the power that the MIC has accrued over the last half century, my takeaway is that Obama is afraid of confronting them directly. Exhibit one being their refusal to even supply him with the exit plan option that he requested, followed by his agreement to a threefold escalation.

The career arc of professional soldiers at the highest level is furthered, not by commanding a desk in D.C. but commanding troops in battle. As for the motivation of the industrial part of the MIC equation, dominated by weapons producers and private contractors like Blackwater, nothing need be said.

Bluetoe2 October 7th, 2010 at 2:10 pm

The Ceasars had their Praetorian Guards they were beholden to, Presidents have their military/industrial/media complex.

TarheelDem October 7th, 2010 at 2:12 pm

But we do have exports. Military hardware subsidized by foreign military aid. See: Saudi Arabia, $60 billion arms sale.

TarheelDem October 7th, 2010 at 2:22 pm
In response to papau @ 114

The Pak ISI is as riven with factions as the US CIA. And there is not one Taliban but many different groups. Pakistan supported Mullah Omar’s Taliban faction and some others to have Afghanistan as a client state and to deal with issues in Pashtun-dominated areas, especially around Quetta. That is probably a consensus policy of the factions within ISI and the military that still dominates behind the scenes the civilian government. So there are domestic as well as international implications for how the Pak government handles the various Talibans.

The border closing was provoked by a blatant US violation of Pakistani sovereignty that involved the deaths of Pakistani soldiers and couldn’t very easily be swept under the carpet.

Consider what would happen if Canadian military pursuing al Quaeda suspects in Canada across the US border shot and killed three ICE border agents at a checkpoint. Wouldn’t the US close the border with Canada totally to show its displeasure?

The big problem is that the next border crossing southwest of the Khyber Pass goes through Quetta, the very stronghold of the Taliban in both Pakistan and Afghanistan. Mullah Omar is said to be a refugee in Quetta.

patrickhenrypress October 7th, 2010 at 3:33 pm
In response to TarheelDem @ 117

Considering all we’ve borrowed from them, at interest, it’s encouraging they’d even bother to pay for it. You are correct, and my glittering generalities stand corrected. We also export investment fraud and the WWE. Take that, China and India!

Please, take it. And sign right here. And here. And initial here. And here. Here, too. Thank you so much! It’s been a pleasure doing business with you and good luck with those derivatives!

Real exports! We’re saved!

patrickhenrypress October 7th, 2010 at 3:49 pm
In response to Propagandee @ 115

I’m tempted to say the brass is a Koch subsidiary, but perhaps I’m too cynical.

We’re not just getting a foothold in the Middle East, we’re building a launch pad. There are several potential large-scale confrontations on the horizon, and I have no doubt the far right-wing in the Pentagon isn’t about to give up an inch of ground there.

Besides, we’re negotiating with warlords instead of taking them out with drones and labeling them terrorists after the fact. We’re playing as nicely as the military knows how to in Afghanistan. Ergo we intend to stay.

CTuttle October 7th, 2010 at 4:04 pm

Folks…! Ray McGovern completely eviscerates Obama’s choice to ‘Surge’ in the AfPak war…

CIA Analysts Shut Out on Afghan War

Thumbing through Bob Woodward’s Obama’s Wars, I should not have been surprised that the index lacks any entry for “intelligence.”

papau October 7th, 2010 at 4:04 pm

There are 3 Taliban factions – one very large which is more or less run by the Pak ISI under the excuse that they are just fighting Indian influence (a problem no one else sees). The other two factions are much smaller – and of course tribal. It is the Pak ISI faction that Afghan President Karsi is talking to.

And none of the above changes the fact that the ISI is acting like the Mafia – protection for trucks running supplies only if you pay me – with destruction of supplies not my fault – I just withdrew protection of those trucks and told the Taliban where they were parked.

As to the border crossing – the Pak military was permitted by its Generals to fire on our returning planes. We have great Allies in that part of the world don’t we.

papau October 7th, 2010 at 4:18 pm

Could the book Salon invite the folks that made “waiting for superman”?

The movie asked good questions but was short on answers that fit the data and I’d like to hear from them – as in why William Raspberry’s Baby Steps program for the poor was not discussed http://www.takebabysteps.com/

And why uniformly middle class one ethnic group Finland was the focus of some comparisons.

Along with the above complaints I’d like to commend them on telling a great, albeit heart wrenching, story of how life is a lottery (I’d note that US “life” is where the lottery winners think they won based on merit).

transparait October 7th, 2010 at 4:40 pm

Yemen.

Pretty damn comprehensive, guy worked hard on it. Footnotes.

“On December 21, 2009, days before the “underwear bomber” pretext, ABC news reported that the US had begun launching cruise missile attacks in Yemen under the authorization of President Obama, and the French media reported on one such strike having massacred “49 civilians, among them 23 children and 17 women.” While the air strikes were reportedly undertaken to target al-Qaeda in Yemen, they took place in the south near where some of the leaders of the secessionist movement were reportedly living. These raids had been increasingly taking place, and as the New York Times reported, “the United States provided firepower, intelligence and other support to the government of Yemen as it carried out raids.”[92]

Over 2009, the Pentagon supplied the Yemeni military with $70 million, effectively subsidizing their military (as they do with a plethora of nations worldwide, most notably Colombia, Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia), in order for Yemen’s military to be more able to crush the secessionist uprising in the South, the rebels in the North, and that pesky al-Qaeda which rears its head in any nation America seeks to conduct military operations in. As Newsweek reported in late December of 2009:

Over the past year U.S. and Yemeni interests have increasingly begun to align as Al Qaeda’s presence in the country has grown. “We started seeing a lot of foreign fighters coming in—Saudis, Pakistanis,” says one Yemeni diplomatic source. Many of those have arrived (or returned) from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. As they have, the networks of militants have begun to launch quiet, pinpoint strikes on local Yemeni intelligence chiefs—six or seven in the past several months alone. The government’s retaliatory raids were launched partly in response to those strikes… Government raids are almost certainly the products of close cooperation with the U.S.—perhaps carried out by CIA-operated Predator drones launched from nearby Djibouti. A. A. Al-Eryani, a former Yemeni prime minister who advises the current president, says that there is “complete intelligence cooperation” with the U.S. on counterterrorism.[93]

In other words, as the US brought in key Pakistani and Saudi assets (who themselves make up both the financial and operational arms of al-Qaeda), al-Qaeda militants began to emerge and launch strikes against Yemen. Suddenly, then, a pretext for US military involvement in the nation is delivered in the guise of fighting the “War on Terror.” Just as during the Cold War, the threat of ‘Communism’ was used to rally support for suppressing and waging war against national liberation movements all across the world, so now these movements are suppressed and waged war against under the guise of “fighting terror.” An odd ‘irony’ of history, then, that in order to “fight terror,” the West simply spreads it.”

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=21306

Dearie October 7th, 2010 at 5:00 pm

What a waste of my good time to read this thread. We’re promoting Woodward’s book why?

Teddy Partridge October 7th, 2010 at 5:36 pm
In response to Greg Mitchell @ 6

This is a rule you made up on the spot.

Why?

Jeff Kaye October 7th, 2010 at 9:31 pm

I missed all this because of work, but what good questions from the Lake crowd!

Woodward: Pakistan. Read my book. ISI. Taliban. Read it in my book. Pakistan.

Sara October 8th, 2010 at 1:47 am

Finished reading the book two days ago.

I sure wish here, we could focus on the content of books, and less on what one thought of the author years back, or in this case, two books back.

Questions I would have liked to ask…

How in the hell did the US get from the quality of George Marshall as top Military Leadership, down to the likes of all these Generals we see today, each with their own agenda, their own mini-networks, and all the rest. I thought the interplay Woodward describes among Lindsey Graham, McCain, Petraeus, and particularly Kean in this respect, described in the first couple of chapters of the book, Just Sad and sick. Colin Powell may have been one of the few in Obama’s orbit who had any conception of the role of a Chief of Staff in a Military Organization — And of course he is retired and just a friend.

In the end, Obama wrote his own war plans — What are we paying all those folk for over in the Pentagon? He could not even get clean numbers and real numbers out of the military.

Have read lots about Afghanistan, plus have been up in the Kaiber during the 80′s, during the Soviet days. I think reading Steve Coll’s book on that period absolutely necessary to comprehending this one. That’s Ghost Wars, and it came out about six years ago or so. Have had interests in Pakistan since 1961, when I served for about six months on the staff of the first Peace Corps Training Team pulling together resouces to get our Volunteers off to Pakistan.

So Woodward, What would it take to modify Pakistan’s comprehension of National Interests only in terms of India, and only so mono-dimensionally? Pakistan is still playing out 1947, with its Tribals, only better armed. Operationally, when is Pakistan going to understand the notion of Sovereignity to include governing in all its regions, including tribal regions? Any insight as to whether Obama has thoughts on this, do they agree with State? What do you think of Congressional Comprehension of the matter? What might we be thinking vis a vis our now very different relationship with India on this matter?

Deanie, I think they are doing this book because it is highly significant. Perhaps before you trash, you ought to read.

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