Obama's Wars

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In Obama’s Wars, Bob Woodward provides the most intimate and sweeping portrait yet of the young president as commander in chief. Drawing on internal memos, classified documents, meeting notes and hundreds of hours of interviews with most of the key players, including the president, Woodward tells the inside story of Obama making the critical decisions on the Afghanistan War, the secret campaign in Pakistan and the worldwide fight against terrorism.

At the core of Obama’s Wars is the unsettled division between the civilian leadership in the White House and the United States military as the president is thwarted in his efforts to craft an exit plan for the Afghanistan War.

“So what’s my option?” the president asked his war cabinet, seeking alternatives to the Afghanistan commander’s request for 40,000 more troops in late 2009. “You have essentially given me one option. ...It’s unacceptable.”

“Well,” Secretary of Defense Robert Gates finally said, “Mr. President, I think we owe you that option.”

It never came. An untamed Vice President Joe Biden pushes relentlessly to limit the military mission and avoid another Vietnam. The vice president frantically sent half a dozen handwritten memos by secure fax to Obama on the eve of the final troop decision.

President Obama’s ordering a surge of 30,000 troops and pledging to start withdrawing U.S. forces by July 2011 did not end the skirmishing.

General David Petraeus, the new Afghanistan commander, thinks time can be added to the clock if he shows progress. “I don’t think you win this war,” Petraeus said privately. “This is the kind of fight we’re in for the rest of our lives and probably our kids’ lives.”

Hovering over this debate is the possibility of another terrorist attack in the United States. The White House led a secret exercise showing how unprepared the government is if terrorists set off a nuclear bomb in an American city—which Obama told Woodward is at the top of the list of what he worries about all the time.

Verbatim quotes from secret debates and White House strategy sessions—and firsthand accounts of the thoughts and concerns of the president, his war council and his generals—reveal a government in conflict, often consumed with nasty infighting and fundamental disputes.

Woodward has discovered how the Obama White House really works, showing that even more tough decisions lie ahead for the cerebral and engaged president.

Obama’s Wars offers the reader a stunning, you-are-there account of the president, his White House aides, military leaders, diplomats and intelligence chiefs in this time of turmoil and danger.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Simon and Schuster
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Published on
Sep 27, 2010
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Pages
464
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ISBN
9781439172513
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Language
English
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Genres
History / General
History / United States / General
Political Science / American Government / Executive Branch
Political Science / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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See how and why Washington is not functioning in Bob Woodward’s freshly reported, thirty-five-page Afterword to his national bestseller, The Price of Politics, which provides a detailed, often verbatim account of what happened in the dramatic “fiscal cliff” face-off at the end of 2012 between President Obama and the Republicans.

Now it’s happening again. In fall 2013, Washington faces a new round of budget and fiscal wars that could derail the American and global economies.

“We are primarily a blocking majority,” said Michael Sommers, Speaker John Boehner’s chief of staff, summarizing the House Republican position.

It was the land of no-compromise: On health care cuts over ten years, Boehner suggested to Obama, you are $400 billion, I’m at $600 billion. “Can we split the difference here? Can we land at $500 billion?” “Four hundred billion is it,” Obama replied. “I just can’t see how we go any further on that.”

After making $120 billion in other concessions, Obama pleaded with Boehner, “What is it about the politics?” “My guys just aren’t there,” Boehner replied. “We are $150 billion off, man. I don’t get it. There’s something I don’t get.”

The Price of Politics chronicles the inside story of how President Obama and the US Congress tried, and failed, to restore the American economy and set it on a course to fiscal stability. Woodward pierces the secretive world of Washington policymaking once again, with a close-up story crafted from meeting notes, documents, working papers, and interviews with key players, including President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner. Woodward lays bare the broken relationship between President Obama and the Congress.
FROM INSIDE OBAMA’S SITUATION ROOM . . . THE CRITICAL MOMENTS IN THE COVERT WAR AGAINST IRAN, THE STRUGGLES TO DEAL WITH A RECALCITRANT PAKISTAN AND ITS FAST-GROWING NUCLEAR ARSENAL, THE TENSIONS WITH THE AMERICAN MILITARY OVER AFGHANISTAN AND WITH ALLIES SWEPT UP IN THE CHAOS OF THE ARAB SPRING
 
Three and a half years ago, David Sanger’s book The Inheritance: The World Obama Confronts and the Challenges to American Power described how a new American president came to office with the world on fire. Now, just as the 2012 presidential election battle begins, Sanger follows up with an eye-opening, news-packed account of how Obama has dealt with those challenges, relying on innovative weapons and reconfigured tools of American power to try to manage a series of new threats. Sanger describes how Obama’s early idealism about fighting “a war of necessity” in Afghanistan quickly turned to fatigue and frustration, how the early hopes that the Arab Spring would bring about a democratic awakening slipped away, and how an effort to re-establish American power in the Pacific set the stage for a new era of tensions with the world’s great rising power, China. 

As the world seeks to understand the contours of the Obama Doctrine, Confront and Conceal is a fascinating, unflinching account of these complex years, in which the president and his administration have found themselves struggling to stay ahead in a world where power is diffuse and America’s ability to exert control grows ever more elusive.
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