Summary of Obama's Wars

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Hours after his election as the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama learned details of the top-secret circumstances that defined the Afghanistan conflict, a war characterized by inadequate resources, incomplete planning, inchoate strategy and ongoing bloodshed. Bob Woodward of The Washington Post applied his legendary reporting skills to reams of meeting notes, classified reports and interviews to recreate the often tempestuous policy making on Afghanistan that marked Obama’s first 18 months in office. Woodward’s trip to Afghanistan and his unfettered access to top officials in more than 100 interviews, including more than an hour with the president, put you at the center of marathon meetings, disputes and discussions peopled by contrasting personalities and their shifting allegiances. getAbstract recommends this masterful work of reporting, an engrossing book on how the US is managing a war “with no good options.”

About the Author

Bob Woodward, associate editor at The Washington Post, is a co-winner of two Pulitzer Prizes, including one for his reporting of the Watergate scandal.



Mr. President-elect...

Two days after winning the November 2008 presidential election, Barack Obama met with Mike McConnell, his predecessor’s director of national intelligence (DNI), for a briefing on the “highly classified intelligence operations and capabilities of the vast US espionage establishment.” In a closed, secure room, Obama learned more about the challenges he was inheriting as president.

With 161,000 US troops deployed in Iraq and another 38,000 in Afghanistan, Obama learned that a larger threat to his military now came from nuclear-equipped Pakistan, whose 1,500-mile, porous border with Afghanistan provided easy, safe passage to al Qaeda, the Taliban and their affiliates. Tribal chiefs working with the Taliban ruled Pakistan’s “Federally Administered Tribal Areas.” In 2006 the Pakistani government gave up authority over the North Waziristan border region, which quickly became “kind of a Wild West” for extremists and a staging ground for moving people and arms in the war against US forces in Afghanistan. Pakistan’s military espionage unit, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), played both sides, ostensibly supporting US interests while arming and funding...

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