Obama Aides Divided on Afghan Strategy, According to New Book

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BY VOA NEWS — A new book documents deep division among U.S. President Barack Obama’s top advisors on the Afghan war strategy, with some key administration officials doubtful the new plan will succeed.

The Washington Post and The New York Times both published excerpts Wednesday of an upcoming book by Bob Woodward, an associate editor at the Post, who interviewed President Obama and his advisors on the war strategy.


The accounts say Mr. Obama was pushing for an “exit” and no long-term “nation-building” in Afghanistan, while top military commanders only offered options of sending in more U.S. troops to fight the Taliban insurgency.

The president eventually agreed to send an additional 30,000 troops to the country, but announced a deadline for U.S. forces to begin withdrawing in July of 2011.

The U.S. special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, was quoted as saying the new strategy will not work.

Excerpts from the book also highlight deep personal rifts between administration officials.

An unnamed senior administration official downplayed the division Wednesday, saying President Obama comes across in the war review as a leader who is analytical, strategic and decisive.

The Washington Post says the book also discloses that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency has a 3,000-an paramilitary army made up mostly of Afghans.  The elite force is said to conduct sensitive, covert operations into Pakistan against al-Qaida and Taliban havens.  U.S. officials on Wednesday confirmed the existence of that covert force.

Another excerpt from the book says U.S. intelligence reports show Afghan President Hamid Karzai has been diagnosed with manic depression.  The Associated Press quotes Waheed Omar, Mr. Karzai’s spokesman, who denied the allegation.

Obama’s Wars is set to be released on Monday.

Woodward is best known for his work, along with journalist Carl Bernstein, uncovering the Watergate scandal that ultimately led to the resignation of former president Richard Nixon.