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Seamans: Woodward And Obama's Wars

09/28/10 7:55AM By Bill Seamans
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(HOST)  Commentator Bill Seamans says that a new book about the Obama administration is stirring up plenty of controversy.

(SEAMANS) In Washington they're talking about the Woodward Syndrome, the power of opinion that Bob Woodward wields with his latest book, titled "Obama's Wars" and his unique access to the White House and its alleged inner-sanctum discussions.  Woodward's latest White House tell-all focuses on President Obama's difficulties getting advice regarding what he should do about Afghanistan and the infighting over who should win Obama's ear.

As with previous Woodward books, the public has been served up leaks containing the alleged stuff that sells books these days like Gen. Petraeus calling Obama advisor David Axelrod "a complete spin doctor."  Or National Security Advisor Gen. James Jones calling Obama's aides "water bugs," the "Mafia," or the "Politburo." - Or that a Pentagon war game showing that more troops were needed in Afghanistan was in Vice President Biden's pungent opinion - quote - "Bull-bleep!"  My editing.

Reading beyond the sprinkling of personal opinions is the profoundly serious story that while it appears on the surface that they are working together, under the pubic relations radar President Obama and Gen. Petraeus appear heading for a head-on clash over whether to get out or stay in Afghanistan regardless of the cost.

The basic question suggested by extracts from "Obama's Wars" in the Washington Post is whether his generals are deliberately bypassing Obama's search for an exit plan.  Obama is quoted as saying our military leaders were "really cooking this thing in the direction they wanted."   Up to now Obama has met Petraeus's request for more troops but not as many as he wanted.  According to Woodward the White House staff has been rumbling since late last year when Gen. Petraeus, Adm. Mullen, and Gen. McChrystal all declared in public statements that a scaled back effort against Afghan terrorists would not work.  White House Staff asked why did the President's chief military advisors go public with opinions conflicting with their Commander-In-Chief's known preference for a scaled back exit plan.

The more than nuanced story in Woodward's new book is that in its most simplistic terms Obama and his Democratic Party want out of Afghanistan and Petraeus is supported by a conservative view that we must fight on to an undefined victory for an undefined length of time.  Is the Woodward Syndrome telling us as we approach the Presidential Election that the political aspects of this controversy are bound to emerge even to the degree that Petraeus's opinions will sound more and more - yes, POLITICAL - Which surely would warm the campaign hearts and hopes of Petraeus's conservative admirers.
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