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Bob Woodward on ‘Obama’s Wars’

Posted on Oct 14, 2010

The veteran journalist talks to Truthdig’s James Harris about his new book, which zeroes in on a war-averse president struggling to impose order on chaos abroad without losing his grip on the home front.

Note: Transcript below.

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James Harris: Welcome to Truthdig. James Harris along with “the legend,” they call him: Bob Woodward, the man who broke the story that put Richard Nixon out of business. But we’re here today to talk about his new book, “Obama’s Wars.” Bob, thank you for joining us on Truthdig today.

Bob Woodward: Thank you.

JH: I read your book last night. I bought a copy at the local Barnes & Noble. I think it’s …

BW: They didn’t send you one? They should have.

JH: They did, they did. But you know what, I left that copy on a plane, and I said you know what, I need to reference some quotes, so I went and picked up a copy. I want to say, I felt like I was in the room; I got the sense I was watching a current play unfold. What was the most important piece for you?

BW: The focus is the war in Afghanistan; the secret war, Pakistan; and then the war on terror. And this is … it tracks in microscopic detail, or as somebody said, “spreadsheet-like detail,” the 19 months that President Obama walks in dealing with and making decisions in these wars. And so you see him as a kind of law professor, questioning people, identifying issues, being skeptical. You also see his emotions; he erupts a number of times. You see the dilemma of the war, you see the intransigence of the military that will not give him other options. And he goes to the … I guess the most important part, he gets to the heart of the matter, and that is that the cancer in this war is really in Pakistan, where the safe havens for al-Qaida exist, where the safe havens for the Taliban leadership that is fighting us in Afghanistan. And they have sanctuary in Pakistan in cities and camps, and so they can train their fighters, re-equip them, and then give them actual, you know, weekends—rest and relaxation—and then send them back over the border into Afghanistan to kill American soldiers. And Leon Panetta, the CIA director, is quoted in the book saying this is a crazy kind of war, and it really is crazy.

JH: It seems to me that as we’ve watched this war, it was about al-Qaida, then it became about the Taliban. What did you learn from the administration, as you wrote this book, about the distinction between the two?


book cover


Obama’s Wars


By Bob Woodward


Simon & Schuster, 464 pages


Buy the book

BW: That’s a really good question, because it’s so confusing it can make your head hurt.

JH: Yeah.

BW: Al-Qaida attacked us on 9/11. They were then … they had their sanctuary in Afghanistan. We invaded Afghanistan, drove them out, they went across the border into Pakistan. And as President Obama learns two days after he’s elected president, the intel people tell him, “Look, Pakistan is living a lie; they fight some of these terrorist groups, and at the same time they secretly created some of them and support them.” And right now, in the fall of this year, a lot of these groups are plotting to attack the United States. The Times Square would-be bomber, back in May—he was trained and supported by one of these Pakistani terrorist groups. And Obama, when he’d looked at all the intelligence, sent his national security adviser and CIA director over to Pakistan to read them the riot act, and said, “You’ve got to do more about these sanctuaries.” And the intelligence on who’s plotting and how many plots there are and how difficult it is to track them will make your hair stand on end.

JH: I feel like there’s a football that’s a-fumblin’, and we can’t put our hands on it. ’Cause it was Iraq, and now it’s Afghanistan, and now it’s Pakistan, and we are over there just making a mess of matters. Did that ever come up?

BW: Yes—whether we’re causing as many problems as we are solving. This is the difficulty of this war, and what I’ve tried to do here … it’s a window on the way President Obama thinks. Though we … people learned a lot about him in the 2008 campaign, he gives lots of speeches, he does town hall meetings, he answers reporters’ questions … the message management in this White House has been so good I think you really don’t know who he is. And what I’ve got are thousands of words of him being quoted, trying to figure out what to do. You’re right—it’s kind of a football that’s still flying around in the air and on the ground, and it’s not clear how to jump on it and get control of the situation. There are so many unsettled components of it. I mean, let me just take one. The secretary of defense, Bob Gates, a critical player by most accounts, has done a good job as secretary of defense; he was a holdover from the Bush administration, agreed to stay one year. I recount seeing where Obama called Gates in last year and said, “I want you to stay for the whole term,” for four years. And Gates feels pre-empted, feels that the president enters into a negotiation with him, and that the president sounds like a rug merchant. And they go back and forth, and Gates agrees to stay for another year, but psychologically he’s got one foot out the door. You know in any institution when the leader is about to leave, or thinking about life after the Pentagon, in this case, it’s not clear where things are going. That’s something that has to be settled. The national security adviser, Gen. [James] Jones, is leaving; who’s going to take that job? How do you make the National Security Council a more functioning entity? The head of intelligence, Adm. [Dennis] Blair, was fired in the spring; they’ve got a new man in Gen. [James] Clapper. How are the intelligence agencies functioning? The rift between the political White House and the military is as clear as it has ever been. The news on the ground in Afghanistan about how the war is going is … though they say there’s some progress, there’s a lot of bad news here. So, we are at a point where the president in the next year is going to have to make probably the most critical decisions in this war, which will define not just an important part of his presidency and his leadership, but will define the position of the United States in the world. Do we do well in this war? Are we smart? Or, as Vice President Biden worries all the time, do we wind up stuck with Obama’s Vietnam?

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By Liberal Warrior, December 7, 2010 at 12:58 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Reg: “real problem is imperialism in the form of rampant capitalism.”  Could not have said it better myself.

Cheap oil(National heroin), rapacious US born capitalism, and collective ignorance from all sides, is this countries biggest problems.

Liberal Warrior “Little Beirut”

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LocalHero's avatar

By LocalHero, December 4, 2010 at 10:36 pm Link to this comment

Obama has shown himself to be as bad and possibly worse than the last 20 warmongers to hold that office. the only question he never bothered to ask but that is the only one that makes any sense (unless, of course, you’re making lots of money from war) is, “How do we get out of Iraq, Afghanistan & Pakistan as fast as humanly possible?” The rest is BS.

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By christian96, October 23, 2010 at 5:59 pm Link to this comment

To begin with I want to make it crystal clear I am
not prejudiced.  I got this e-mail from my neighbor
this afternoon.  She is a Republician and hates
Obama.  In the e-mail she said, “I walked into
Wal-Mart this morning and right in front of the
store they are selling Obama ornaments to hang on
your Christmas tree. I thought how times have changed. Now it’s acceptable to hang a black man on
a tree once again.”  I responded and told her I was
going to send her e-mail to the White House.

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By ardee, October 21, 2010 at 5:57 am Link to this comment

Peetawonkus, October 20 at 2:35 pm Link to this comment

Back in 2003, when Bush was lying us into a war with Iraq, there were a few hundred million of us who said Iraq isn’t the problem, Pakistan is. But nooooo. We were called traitors, unpatriotic, we didn’t “support the troops.”

I do not know about the accuracy of the two hundred million figure, but I damn well know that the real problem is imperialism in the form of rampant capitalism.

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By jetman, October 20, 2010 at 4:47 pm Link to this comment

On trusting Bob Woodward, suffice to quote Russ Baker, a credentialed journalist:  “Here’s the deal: Bob, top secret Naval officer, gets sent to work in the Nixon White House while still on military duty. Then, with no journalistic credentials to speak of, and with a boost from White House staffers, he lands a job at the Washington Post. Not long thereafter he starts to take down Richard Nixon. Meanwhile, Woodward’s military bosses are running a spy ring inside the White House that is monitoring Nixon and Kissinger’s secret negotiations with America’s enemies (China, Soviet Union, etc), stealing documents and funneling them back to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. They then give what they stole to columnist Jack Anderson and others in the press.”

In brief:  Woodward has spent his career acting for an ever-ravenous war-oriented military.  He is a mountebank and an accomplished reshaper of facts.  Do not trust him.

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By Kath Cantarella, October 20, 2010 at 4:30 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mr O has aged greatly in the last two years carrying the burden of war that he spoke against as a much less powerful man.

If he has lost your support, let the only reason be because you think the Republicans will make a better government. That is the only alternative.

If Obama was a selfish man he would quit and take care of his health.

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By Peetawonkus, October 20, 2010 at 10:35 am Link to this comment

Back in 2003, when Bush was lying us into a war with Iraq, there were a few hundred million of us who said Iraq isn’t the problem, Pakistan is. But nooooo. We were called traitors, unpatriotic, we didn’t “support the troops.” So Bush gave us record deficits fighting a war we didn’t need to fight while continuing to pump aid into the very country that, with Saudia Arabia, had more to do with attacking us on 9-11 than any other. Pakistani intelligence forces trained first the Taliban, then Al-Quaeda. In the war against the Soviets, when the USA gave billions in black budget money to Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban, the Pakistani military actively participated in battles alongside the Taliban and even directed some of the battles. Remember those 80s action movies trying to portray the Taliban as “freedom fighters?” Stallone does. If Obama had even a lick of sense he would make a clean break with all of Bush’s policies instead of continuing them. We could start with all US forces withdrawing from Afghanistan and Iraqu.  We could even take the radical socialist approach to cut off all non-disaster aid from Pakistan while signing a security deal/nuclear shield pact with India and China. Pakistan would be at the bargaining table with Osama’s head on a plate before it’s time to put up the Chanukah tree.

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By johncp, October 20, 2010 at 8:58 am Link to this comment

Obama is either an unwilling participant in the promotion of these wars, because, without our knowing it, he has nothing to say, and is powerless in the face of these wars, or he feels that he profits from them in many ways, and will maintain them.  There is no in between.

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By fearnotruth, October 18, 2010 at 7:35 pm Link to this comment

I refuse to spend much time searching TD archives just to prove a point to one who refuses to even post source
urls - so, I picked one randomly from 2006:

Columns, Robert Scheer’s Columns
Meanwhile, Back in Afghanistan

Posted on Jan 18, 2006

By Robert Scheer

What’s up with Osama bin Laden?

Remember when capturing him “dead or alive” and eliminating his Afghanistan-based Al Qaeda, as President
Bush promised, was what the “war on terror” was all about?

Instead, the president got distracted with his idiotic invasion of Iraq, where Al Qaeda had been effectively
banned by the secular dictator the U.S. deposed. Now we are left holding the bag in two desperate countries
with bleak futures where perpetrators of 9/11 are reportedly thriving and guerrilla warfare and terror
bombings have continued to increase.

======== comment =============

By Michael J. Germain, January 18, 2006 at 1:24 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The farce that is American policy in Afghanistan is demonstrating in stark terms that Republicans are always
more comfortable dealing with authoritarian warlords than people really attempting to build democracy. 
Hamid Karzai, the Mayor of Kabul, is a former CIA agent who has little support outside of the capitol.  Robert
Scheer would do us all a huge favor if he could write about the mercenary forces in that country that are
bought and paid for by such US companies as Dyncorp, and others.  There are an estimated 20,000
mercenaries in Afghanistan, more than we have troops.

I know a guy in the 82nd Airborne who was on a sweep in the mountains “looking for Osama” once when
they encountered a mercenary patrol led by CIA officers.  The captain leading the Airborne patrol was not
allowed to ask what they were doing and why, in fact, the mercs, who are all exSpecial Ops troops cashing in,
actually threatened to open fire on our troops when the captain pressed them for details.

It looks to me as though the CIA, and its minions, are once again engaged in drug trafficking and Vietnam
style cowboyism.

The scale of criminality that is The Bush Experience is almost to vast to comprehend.  They are nothing less
than an organized crime gang.

Perhaps Bush, Rummy, Cheney, and the rest of these fascist pigs could be charged under RICO?

How great would that be!


that’s 1 in 11 postings, about 10% - 20 times more than .5% - it does not specifically cite NATO, but rather
focuses on NATO’s biggest player, the US - it’s a 1st-hand anecdotal account and it pretty well denigrates
whatever the mission might really be - moreover non of the other comments in the article support the
US/NATO mission as in calling it a “good” war

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By Go Right Young Man, October 18, 2010 at 6:20 pm Link to this comment

fearnotruth, - “Yes, some believe Afghanistan is the “good war,” but in virtually every truthdig blog thread on the subject many posts condemn the entire global war of terror as a fraud.”


Those archives are available today.  If you can locate a 2006 - 2003 article in which more than .5% of the comments were anti NATO inside Afghanistan we can all see how wrong I’ve been.

Until then I can only repeat myself.  Three years ago, four years ago, five years ago and 6 years ago one would have been hard pressed to find a commenter on TruthDig not demanding the U.S. leave Iraq and fight the “proper war” the “good war”, the “moral war” in Afghanistan.


In 2002 no Afghan woman could employ herself in any way.  No female child could legally attend school anywhere in the nation.

Today millions of woman have elected to earn a living outside the home in order to raise a family.  Today several million female children, almost all living in abject poverty, are learning math and the sciences.  Learning how to produce potable water from hydrogen.

It’s safe to say that many believe Afghanistan is none of our business.  There are those who believe that Japanese NGO’s inside Afghanistan attempting to transmogrify poppy production into something equally productive yet edible, and exportable, is not worth the effort.  I disagree.

Unfortunately most people are unaware of Japan’s efforts in Afghanistan.  Most people never follow U.N. projects in real time.  Most people are unaware that over 100 nations are working with or within NATO in Afghanistan.  All while smaller but determined groups and nations attempt to deter such efforts and influence the nation and the region as a whole.

Numerous nations about the globe owe Afghans their lives.

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By Go Right Young Man, October 18, 2010 at 4:59 pm Link to this comment

omop, - ”  The grym is oblivious [?] to the “Clean Break” proposal….”


I am well aware of the “Clean Break proposal” of 1996.  By and large I supported the proposal. 

Rolling back Syria - therefor ending the annual killing of tens-of-thousands of Lebanese civilians, and removing Saddam Hussein - therefor ending the killing of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi’s - also ending Hussein’s support of specifically targeting civilians using suicide bombs inside Israel - was, particularly in hindsight, preferable to the U.S, invasions of Iraq.

You owe the Afghan people your life.  It saddens me greatly that you are unaware of it.


You did get two key points incorrect.

a. Wolfowitz was not involved with devising “Clean Break and b. Clean Break called for Israel removing Saddam Hussein.  Overtly independent from U.S. military involvement. 


I do disagree with your premise.  The Clean Break proposal had nothing to do with Afghanistan.  To this day they are quite separate issues.


I know longer supply links on this Web space.  I will gladly assist all who seek more information when requested.  I will no longer do the leg work for those who will not do it for themselves.

If you are seeking death toll projections in Afghanistan you could start with United Nations and NATO reports (Afghanistan is a United Nations mandate).  You could also research information from the German, Japanese, and Polish Foreign Ministries.  While there are different projections from the above you will see how wrong it is to believe that great numbers of Afghans are dying at the hands of the United States and/or NATO. 

There are many other sources, all apart from the media, after you have exhausted those.

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By ardee, October 18, 2010 at 1:57 pm Link to this comment

1. I don’t know where you get the notion that the U.S, is killing so many Afghans, however, it’s demonstrably false.  Less media and more direct information will clear that up.

Oh GRYM you are such a kidder. Why I’ll bet that many here are unaware of your brand of humor by saying something so unbelievably and patently false that you must have meant it to be a form of dark humor.

By the by, if it is so demonstrable why not simply do so?

2. You make a terrific point.  The world does owe Afghans the right to determine their own future.

The world may owe the Afghan people the right of self determination, but that is not achieved by a military presence and the installation of a puppet govt., one corrupt and unable to even begin to form that government. Methinks we owe them a departure, and immediately.

3. Three years ago, four years ago, five years ago and 6 years ago one would have been hard pressed to find a commenter on TruthDig not demanding the U.S. leave Iraq and fight the “proper war” the “good war”, the “moral war” in Afghanistan.  Well, Afghanistan is not a tool for American domestic politics.

More kidding I guess, man your sense of humor is far too subtle for me. I think the reasoning used was a bit more subtle than your sledgehammer “truths” assert, but ,after all, that is your typical methodology, falsehoods masquerading as absolutes.

4. The Taliban is not getting stronger.  Nor is the Taliban becoming more popular in Afghanistan.

Sez you, but events and statements coming out of that nation seem polar opposites to your assertions. The facts are plain; during the reign of the Taliban they were losing the people due to their extremist religious views and their bloodthirsty enforcement of sharia law. Now that we have boots on the ground, and are slaughtering wedding parties left and right the Taliban looks more and more attractive to far too many there.

The world owes the Afghan people a dept almost beyond repaying.

I wonder which Dept. your reference cites. I vote we give them the Dept. of Homeland Security. grin

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By omop, October 18, 2010 at 10:28 am Link to this comment


  The grym is oblivious [?] to the “Clean Break” proposal perpared by Richard
Perle, Douglas Feith, Wolfowitz and friends for Bibi Netanyahu back in the early
1990s. That proposal was intended primarely to protect Israael by having the
US invade Iraq, attack Syria and other Muslim nations in order to make them
“more democratic”


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By fearnotruth, October 18, 2010 at 9:39 am Link to this comment

RE: 3. Three years ago, four years ago, five years ago and 6 years ago one would have been hard pressed to find a commenter on TruthDig not demanding the U.S. leave Iraq and fight the “proper war” the “good war”, the “moral war” in Afghanistan.  Well, Afghanistan is not a tool for American domestic politics.

Wow, to some it certainly is, especially those intent on driving any potential wedge into the movement for global peace. Yes, some believe Afghanistan is the “good war,” but in virtually every truthdig blog thread on the subject many posts condemn the entire global war of terror as a fraud. Many regularly confirm they never bought the 9/11 Myth; i.e. that the Official Conspiracy Theory is the most unbelievable of all and that so-called Islamofascism is a Gladio-style Strategy of Tension for the Middle East, initiated by Brzezinski/Gates/CIA operatives in Afghanistan, prior to the USSR 1979 invasion and an ongoing program ever since - a perspective supported by voluminous evidence, frequently cited in these threads: e.g. - insight into the KSM fraud, a powerful fuel cell for the global war of terror.

As for casualties and those who’ve caused them, that depends on whose reporting and compiling - here  are found marked irregularities, for exactly this reason - regardless the source, accuracy is virtually impossible to confirm.

It would be interesting (for a change) to see GRYM’s source for assertions made - the cited AP report is oblique in that respect; and curious (perhaps telling) coming from one who chastises others with the accusation of following only ‘western’ media.

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By Go Right Young Man, October 18, 2010 at 4:35 am Link to this comment

C.Curtis.Dillon, - “Dragging out the “we owe them” argument is wrong.  We owe them the right to determine their own future and nothing more. “


1. I don’t know where you get the notion that the U.S, is killing so many Afghans, however, it’s demonstrably false.  Less media and more direct information will clear that up.

2. You make a terrific point.  The world does owe Afghans the right to determine their own future.

3. Three years ago, four years ago, five years ago and 6 years ago one would have been hard pressed to find a commenter on TruthDig not demanding the U.S. leave Iraq and fight the “proper war” the “good war”, the “moral war” in Afghanistan.  Well, Afghanistan is not a tool for American domestic politics.

4. The Taliban is not getting stronger.  Nor is the Taliban becoming more popular in Afghanistan.

The world owes the Afghan people a dept almost beyond repaying.


Afghans vote for parliament amid threats, attacks

Associated Press, Updated: September 18, 2010 14:31 IST

Kabul:  Men in traditional tunics and women covered in sky-blue burqas trickled into polling centers to vote in Afghanistan’s parliamentary election Saturday, as scattered attacks and the closure of some voting sites by insurgents underscored the difficulty of trying to hold a vote in a country at war.

Rockets struck major cities throughout the country—the first one slamming into the capital before dawn, followed in the next few hours by a series of rockets in eastern Ghazni, Gardez and Jalalabad cities, as well as in Kandahar and Nimroz in the south and old Baghlan in the north. The Baghlan rocket killed two civilians, police spokesman Kamen Khan said.

The Taliban had warned ahead of the vote that those who cast ballots and those working the polls would be attacked.

In Nangarhar’s troubled Surkh Rud district, the Taliban blocked two voting centers from opening until late morning. A resident, Kasim, said Taliban were patrolling the area to prevent residents from going to the local center or going elsewhere to vote. Kasim, like many Afghans, only used one name.

As midday approached, however, area residents said NATO and Afghan forces arrived, prompting the Taliban to flee and allowing the voting centers to open.

Despite the violence and threats, millions of Afghans were determined to cast their ballots.

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By C.Curtis.Dillon, October 18, 2010 at 2:03 am Link to this comment

Go Right Young Man:

I don’t normally comment on the statements of others here but I’m sorry ... I do have to comment on your observation.  Most of the people dying in Afghanistan die at our hands, not the Taliban.  Much of the corruption we see there is due to our meddling, not the Taliban.  We had a chance, 9 years ago, to do the right thing and failed.  Why we failed is common knowledge.  But we have failed and remaining there only makes the problem worse.  The Taliban grows stronger every day and the people grow more and more frustrated by the corruption.  We are the fuel that drives both of those problems and we need to get out.  In the end, Afghanistan will go its own way.  Democracy is not for them and probably never will be.  We need to leave so they can determine their own future in their own way.  If it is the Taliban than so be it.  The only thing we should do is make it abundantly clear that we will react strongly if they ever again allow terrorist to use their country as a training base or safe haven.  Other than that we have no rights there and should get out.

Dragging out the “we owe them” argument is wrong.  We owe them the right to determine their own future and nothing more.

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By ardee, October 17, 2010 at 11:21 am Link to this comment

Go Right Young Man, October 17 at 9:11 am Link to this comment

Americans owe the Afghan people their lives.  Walking away from that debt because it’s too hard or too expensive is both reprehensible and grossly self-serving.

Aside from the fact that this comment is a rather monumental paeon to saying nothing with great feeling I wonder exactly how we incurred this mythic “debt”. I also have to wonder why, considering that we slaughter innocent Afghans in droves, walking away isnt actually a payment of that “debt.”

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By fearnotruth, October 17, 2010 at 10:50 am Link to this comment

RE: Americans owe…

...again, WRONG

Actually it’s the global finance oligarchy who owes everyone - these awful wars
need to be shut down while infrastructure and social services the world over
built up - it’s no mystery how it works: Gutle Schnapper, wife of Mayer Amschel
Rothschild, was once quoted as saying: “If my sons did not want war, there
would be none.”

“in WWI and WWII, the super rich controlling the US and the West got to
steal much of the property and wealth of the defeated Ottoman Turks, Germans
and Japanese.

It might be argued that the United States and Britain, their taxpayers and their
soldiers (who died on the battlefields), didn’t get much out of the World Wars;
but rest assured that the fat cat international bankers cleaned up in gaining
control of Japanese and German banking, commerce and industry (SONY—
Standard Oil of NY?).

That’s why those wars and all the others (past, present and future) have been
and are fought.  Dominating greed for more and more profits and gains
prompts the big money interests to promote, encourage and agitate wars on
and on. “

from -

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By Go Right Young Man, October 17, 2010 at 5:11 am Link to this comment

Americans owe the Afghan people their lives.  Walking away from that debt because it’s too hard or too expensive is both reprehensible and grossly self-serving.

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By fearnotruth, October 16, 2010 at 8:17 pm Link to this comment

RE: By Carol Davidek-Waller, October 15 at 5:00 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What happened to Bob Woodward? From hero to booklicker…

sorry Carol, like you, I too detest Nixon, but unlike you, Woodward’s mission I never saw as ‘heroic’

“Bob Woodward has long been the voice of the American
– or of certain quadrants of it, at any rate. When Richard
Nixon’s criminal depredations and mental instability had gone too far and it was
decided to rein him in, former military intelligence officer Woodward was there
as a safe pair of hands to receive the damning revelations of “Deep Throat” and
help bring down the Nixon presidency.”

- from

Woodward’s limited hangouts are pretty transparent - clearly a rich asset - scratch a little deeper and Poppy Bush shows through - makes one think, what about ‘State of Denial’ - indeed, what about it and what factional infighting did the Iraq Study Group set in motion… and Woodward’s mission?

Chris Floyd concludes his review of ‘State of Denial’ thusly: “In the corrupted currents of our day, Woodward’s book – and the factional struggle within the Establishment it represents – is to be welcomed. Anything that can mitigate some of the evil being done by the Bush Faction must been seen as a positive intervention. But only in the sense that having an ink pen jammed through your trachea when you are choking to death is a positive intervention. For make no mistake: what we are seeing is a “war in heaven,” an intramural struggle between elites, a falling out among thieves, and, literally, a family quarrel in the imperial house. It has nothing to do with the welfare of the American people, or the restoration of democracy. The “consent of the governed” will play no part in how the affairs of the state are finally ordered by the exalted ones. ”

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By jodusa, October 16, 2010 at 12:06 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Somebody stated:

“Wars are started by those who have everything to gain and nothing to lose. Wars are fought by those who have everything to lose and nothing to gain”

Somebody else stated:

“War is good for business - invest your son”

If those two quotes were on every computer screen in the world every day then we might have some decent movement to stop all this madness.

” I spent 33 years in the Marines, most of my time being a high-class muscle man for big business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer for Capitalism”
by Brigadier General Smedley D. Butler from his book
“War Is A Racket”.

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By "Little Beirut", October 16, 2010 at 9:55 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Comments!  What a waste of time until the brief but cogent comments of SoTexGuy/JeffKamen. Gives me a little hope that blind, poisonous, visceral emotion hasn’t drawn all into it’s self destructive web.

Some of you need to grow up and adjust your world view.  Seriously!  You express the same lack of over view that the Tea Party mob does.

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By omop, October 16, 2010 at 9:09 am Link to this comment

Bob Woodward must suffer from very poor memory and/or is part and parcel of
the brainwashing DC cabal.

These are not Obama’s Wars. These wars have been in the making for years.

  “In defense of the world Order, U.S. soldiers would have to kill and die. ... We
are not going to achieve a New World Order without paying for it in blood, as well
as in words and money.”

—Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., in Back to the Womb, July/August 1993 issue of Foreign



    Obam;s wars began a long time ago.

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By tedmurphy41, October 16, 2010 at 4:37 am Link to this comment

Concentrate on the defence of American soil, then build up the United Nations to deal with policing the World; place NATO at the UN’s disposal to enable it to carry out this task.
The money which would be saved could solve the ongoing financial crisis, and that’s just within America itself.

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By ardee, October 16, 2010 at 4:20 am Link to this comment

Firstly, allow me to thank johnny, October 15 at 5:26 pm for a great quote. Now I would cite another such; “Guerrilla fighters swim through the population like a fish in the ocean”. Substitute “Terrorist” for the now obsolete “Guerrilla” and that quote of Ernesto Guevara is an apt one I believe. Our military presence in the Middle East actually ties extremists closer to the general population, I fear.

Regardless of whether you believe the Taliban harbored AlQaeda, knew of the plan to execute the events of 9/11, or that the conditional offer to turn bin Laden over was sincere I think it obvious that our presence in Afghanistan has increased the popularity of that extremist group far beyond levels it attained while ruling Afghanistan with an iron and extreme religious hand.

I think it rather obvious that military solutions to most problems is no longer valid and that our continued occupation of both Iraq and Afghanistan is due to goals other than “protecting” our nation.

I’m just saying…..

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By jimch, October 16, 2010 at 2:10 am Link to this comment

Why hell, I was one of those who “KNEW” what the outcome of this fiasco was going to be before it ever started, and said so in several e-mails. Woodward is merely reflecting on what I predicted what was inevitable.

Want some more, recent crap? Go to this link:

Nine friggin’ years and hundreds of billions dollars only to invite the Taliban to negotiations. How stupid have our leaders been! It’s disgusting!

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By lasmog, October 15, 2010 at 6:36 pm Link to this comment

Let’s try something really radical; simply pack up our troops and go home.  Allow the rest of the world to muddle through without are military empire. I know that we would save billions of dollars each year and I expect we would find that we have far fewer enemies.

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By abikecommuter, October 15, 2010 at 3:09 pm Link to this comment

I saw The US versus John Lennon last night and this quote “the war in Afghanistan;
the secret war, Pakistan; and then the war on terror.” reeminded me that in the middle
of the movie Nixon sounds just like Obama.

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By johnny, October 15, 2010 at 1:26 pm Link to this comment

You govern a kingdom by normal rules;
You fight a war by exceptional moves;
But you win the world by letting alone,
How do I know that this is so?
By what is within me!
The more taboo and inhibitions there are in the world,
The poorer the people become.
The sharper the weapons the people possess,
The greater confusion reigns in the realm.
The more clever and crafty the men,
The oftener strange things happen.
The more articulate the laws and ordinances,
The more robbers and thieves arise.’
{Tao Teh Ching #57, Lao Tzu}

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By doublestandards/glasshouses, October 15, 2010 at 1:26 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Tariq Ali on Obama’s wars and domestic policies:

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By jon_e_7, October 15, 2010 at 1:05 pm Link to this comment

On page one Woodward makes the point “The message management in this White House has been so good I think you really don’t know who he [Obama] is.”
On page two “But at least the record is out there, in detail, you can see who he is.”
I’m confused, Mr. Woodward; and your interview was of little help, Mr. Harris. Your pandering to the iconic Mr. Woodward’s book promotion was laughable. TRUTH DIG I expect better of you.

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By Carol Davidek-Waller, October 15, 2010 at 1:00 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What happened to Bob Woodward? From hero to booklicker whose primary occupation is white washing unacceptable leadership.
It isn’t hard to separate the Taliban from Al Qaida.
Obama was trying to sell the war by any means possible so he tried to make us believe that they were the same as Al Qaida. Anyone that starts a war before they decide who their enemy isn’t an honorable man. It’s a political war he allowed himself to be pushed into and he thinks politically he can’t afford to lose.
The military didn’t give him any choices? He’s the commander of the military. They are the ones that shouldn’t have any choices.
Terrorism has no military solution. America can do better than squatting in other people’s countries and stealing their resources.
Obama isn’t a leader. He’s a game player.

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By Kevin Gallagher, October 15, 2010 at 11:46 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Look goddamit, Obama had a mandate from the people that included getting us out of these two wars. All he had to do was come to the American people and explain the real reasons we are there, which by now every dumb fuck in the US knows. It was a done deal.
Instead he showed that he is just another fucking puppet for the Empire. I did not vote for the asshole, Did you ? Then get your head on straight this time and vote third party or just stay home.
Woodward???????? What a dumb fuck.

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DavidByron's avatar

By DavidByron, October 15, 2010 at 9:38 am Link to this comment

I wonder if it is possible that reading Bob Woodward actually makes you measurably more stupid.  Certainly reading unfiltered propaganda has an effect on the mind and that’s all he’s been, a propagandist pipe, for a long time now.  The official stenographer.

Good to see that, like Christine O’Donnell, Obama hates war but just loves waging them.

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By Greetings, October 15, 2010 at 9:24 am Link to this comment

BW just doesn’t get it.  The book title is not Obama’s
War.  It is the Corporate/Military War.  And, we get to
die and pay for the war.  Its time for the people to
change this and take back our government.  VOTE

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By heavyrunner, October 15, 2010 at 9:10 am Link to this comment

I had to stop reading this when Woodward blindly repeats the obvious falsehood “Al-Qaida attacked us on 9/11.”  What rubbish! How could Al-Qaida have planted explosives to pulverize skyscrapers half way around the world with controlled demolition? How could Al-Qaida have arranged for the U.S. Air Force and other Defense commands to have stood down the air defenses around New York City, Washington and the Pentagon? People who are blind enough to believe obvious lies like that are not worth my time.

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By smitty8, October 15, 2010 at 8:59 am Link to this comment

Bob Woodward’s book is not a “neutral” “view
into Obama’s brain.” It is merely an image
created by Obama that he wants to convey - to
sell. Instead of providing leadership, selling,
vie clever speeches, is his game, and the
reason so many supporters feel so betrayed.

It may be worth pointing out that it is not
only Taliban/Al-Qaeda that have sanctuaries to
retire to or to operate from, from fortress
bases to computer game consoles in the US. I
also note that there is no mention that Al-
Qaeda has roots in US incitement of opposition
to the Soviet Union in Afghanistan as well as
support, through Pakistan’s ISI, for the
creation of the Taliban, initially for the same

I hope that the rest of the book is more than a
puff piece about Obama while inflating
Woodward’s ego.

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By SoTexGuy, October 15, 2010 at 8:48 am Link to this comment

It’s certainly true that Obama is in one way or another being blackmailed with the looming threat of another attack.

If he trumps the decisions of the Pentagon and we get hit.. he’ll be pilloried. Imagine going after the CIA and how it operates?! They might just have some of their operatives bomb us somewhere.. and again, Obama loses.

Heck, how can he (politically) even ‘bring the boys home’? What would they do here? Unemployment would surge past any point of tolerance.

I don’t support these wars and I do not excuse Obama in any way when he acts like Bush.. But it’s easy to see the pickle he’s in, and with him, the Democratic leadership.


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By COinMS, October 15, 2010 at 8:44 am Link to this comment

Wow. Talk about lobbing softballs. ‘Legendary’ journalist? Come on. He’s a court stenographer for the empire, a pipeline for Pentagon propaganda which desperately needs some type of legitimacy. Enter the legendary ‘journalist’ Bob Woodward. I of course don’t know him personally, and I’m sure he is a nice enough person, but if this fawning interview is typical of what Truthdig has to offer, I won’t waste time here.
Heading over to for some real analysis of Woodward’s book.

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By gerard, October 15, 2010 at 8:34 am Link to this comment

Well the interview is a clever come-on to buy the book, and it certainly sounds like worth buying. It also iimplies that Woodward has a more generous opinion of the President, based on personal contacts and careful documentation, than most of the disillusioned outsiders cranking away here from the right and the left, both.  I’ll get the book and judge for myself, but I hope ... I truly hope that Obama can resist the ultimate and inevitable push coming from the Pentagon and bring the wars to an end.
  There’s got to be a better way to “fight”—a smarter way, a less murderous way, a more productive way, a more intelligent way.

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By JeffKamen, October 15, 2010 at 8:31 am Link to this comment

Oversimplifying is a natural response to a truly alarming conundrum.

Woodward, as usual, refuses to succumb to oversimplification.  He intuitively
and analytically understands that,sadly, there is no single central truth to be
discovered and held on high that can give us peace as we live our lives in the
time Obama must share with his sworn enemies—the enemies of our country
who are the enemies of modern civilization.

The superb interview with Woodward by James Harris for TruthDig with its
emphasis on Pakistan, reminds all who can still think outside the expanding
bubble of hysteria that, maddeningly, brutally conflicting realities can coexist in
the same space. Despite our deepest wishers for one, a Gordian knot solution is
not always available. Unlike the hero of Greek mythology, Obama is forced to try
to find a way to untie the knot instead of cutting it in half.

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By G.Anderson, October 15, 2010 at 8:30 am Link to this comment

A Better title would have been Obama’s lies…..The list keeps growing daily.

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By rbrooks, October 15, 2010 at 7:13 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

War averse my arse. The usual Woodward psyops hail-to-the-empire whitewash - why does anyone listen to this man?

And President drone/torture/secrecy Obama? He campaigned on going full tilt into Afghanistan - to capture bin Laden, yet; it’s not like we weren’t warned.

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Not One More!'s avatar

By Not One More!, October 14, 2010 at 10:12 pm Link to this comment

This looks like it is another apologist article about how Obama is stuck in this war, not because he wants to, but because he has to. Well, he doesn’t have to. He chooses to be in this war, and misrepresent why we are there.

We just saw all the world come together to save the 33 miners in Chile. and yet the world ignores the death of tens of thousands people for oil and profit. Go figure. - Don’t Trust the Government song.

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