Monday, November 29, 2010

Bob Woodward's Obama's Wars

I read Bob Woodward's Obama's Wars.  I am a sucker for this type of light, insider scoop book (e.g. see Game Change) but this one was disappointing even for the genre.  It can be summed up as follows: there were meetings, lots of meetings, with lots of arguing about troop numbers and periodic leaking.  Quite often, these meetings were long and dull.  After months of such meetings, President Obama decided on the troop levels.

I should note, though, that in a way Woodward has done the public a service in the sense of showing that policy making is not always an exciting West Wing experience.  Instead, it is a grinding experience with major players elbowing each other for influence.  Some of the more human interest stuff was already evident in places like the Rolling Stone interview with Stanley McChrystal so I didn't feel I learned much new about the internal divisions in the White House.  Now the Wikileaks cables will be even juicier about the diplomatic side.

Interestingly, my impression is that the book is the most positive about Joe Biden, who was always skeptical about questionable claims (such as the ability to quickly train 400,000 Afghan security forces) and willing to do so openly, then offer alternate suggestions.  On the other hand, the broad wlllingness by everyone to stand by goals that everyone seemed to know were unrealistic is a depressing reality.


Vicente Duque 5:13 PM  

Obama is Intelligent and Shrewd but he "seems" extremely weak in domestic and foreign policy, like a sissy bullied by Republicans.

Perhaps if Obama wins a second term in year 2012 he can become a stronger president and solve some or the problems associated with the two current wars.

New Book : "Kabuki Democracy: Why a Progressive Presidency Is Impossible, for Now" : Obama cuts deal, grabs half the loaf - Obama seasoned Beltway wheeler-dealer - Obama Chicago Pol learned early that "sometimes you can't get the whole hog, so you take the ham sandwich"

Obama is not an idiot but a consumate Chicago Pol - The fast change that Liberals and Democrats want is impossible, but relax, there is some shrewdness in Obama.

A book called "Kabuki Democracy" is going to be published soon by author Eric Alterman with these ideas more polished and advanced.

I have always believed that Obama is an intelligent man but a chicken in a nest of Hawks.

Tom Ricks and other guys at "Foreign Policy Magazine" believe that Obama can not solve these wars and that they will be furiously raging when he finishes his presidency.

Vicente Duque

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