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Obama's Wars Audio CD – Abridged, Audiobook
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About the Author
Bob Woodward is Assistant Managing Editor at THE WASHINGTON POST. His Pulitzer Prize-winning Watergate reporting is said to have set the standard for modern investigative reporting. Over the last 22 years he has authored or co-authored seven #1 internationally bestselling books.
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Obama's Wars is well-written, comprehensive, and un-biased, which is refreshing for a book about politics. Woodward has amazing access to all of the top leaders in both Congress and the White House, and takes the reader into the discussions and decisions that took place in the White House.
The fact that this book is as un-biased as is humanly possible bears repeating. Political books usually are written from a partisan point-of-view, but this one is the exception. The reader feels as if he was actually present and able to come to his own conclusions, instead of reading the author's conclusions.
What is obvious from the get go in this book is that the US military is not grappling with the fact that the mission in Afghanistan is basically there-is-no-mission. The president persistently pushed the military to come up with a clear mission with definite goals without avail. All they kept saying is that they were there to reverse the Taliban and Al-Qaeda's momentum. He would ask them about their progress and they would more or less state that they are losing--10 years into the war. What he ended up doing is listening to all that the military had to say, and then basically said; what you guys propose to do is to stay in Afghanistan indefinitely until the country is fully developed and has an army of 400 thousand well trained officers. This mission would have the US spending an additional $700 billion in the next ten years without any guaranteed benefit to the United States. This almost one trillion US dollar will come at the expense of other domestic spending that the government could do or simply use it to reduce the US budget deficit.
After countless meetings with Secretaries Gates and Clinton, VP Biden, military officers and other government leaders, Obama made his famous decision to hand over the country to the Afghan government in July 2011. Therefore, the mission in Afghanistan ended up going from defeating Al Qaeda and Taliban to "hold, build and transfer" to the Afghan government the control of the country. It also emphasized the fact that Taliban and Al Qaeda were using Pakistan as their new safe heaven, and the US should expand its efforts into Pakistan-effectively forcing Pakistani's cooperation-to degrade the operations of these terrorists groups. Under Obama's watch, the mission went from being open-ended to having a two years time line.
It is truly a fascinating telling of the way Obama made his decision and a window into his decision making process. He is very intellectual and methodical in his approach to problems and his decisions always came after deep thought based on all the data that is available. He does read every detail and tries as much as possible to be aware of everything that he decides on and challenges whatever is thrown at him by "experts." He even often consults experts from outside the administration, like talking to former Secretary of State General Colin Power, to verify or challenge what his own "experts" are telling him. It's a definitely fascinating book written as if it were a thriller/suspense novel!
This work focuses on Obama's work with his often fractious foreign policy-national defense-intelligence team. We read of the actors' views of the process of whither to go in Afghanistan. The focus is the run-up to President Obama's decision on a "surge" in Afghanistan.
We see many facets of this choice. The intelligence community, the military community, Obama's advisors, his foreign policy-defense team, Pakistani leadership, the Pakistani military, and President Karzai of Afghanistan, among others.
We read of the jockeying for power, the selective use of media to carry on debate over decisions that had putatively already been made, and the tension between the military and the tradition of civilian control of the military.
Key personalities: David Patraeus, Stanley McChrystal, Bob Gates, Hillary Clinton, President Obama, James Jones, Michael Mullen, and so many others.
Another fine work by Bob Woodward on what is going on deep inside Washington, D. C. and throughout the world.
When he [Petraeus] later learned the president had personally dictated the orders, he couldn't believe it. "There's not a president in history that's dictated five single-spaced pages in his life. That's what the staff gets paid to do."
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