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tv   Charlie Rose  PBS  October 5, 2010 10:00pm-11:00pm PST

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>> rose: welcome to our program. tonight, from washingtoton, a conversation with bob woodward about his new book, "obama's wars." >> i picked this as the window into who barack obama is because he's very cerebral. he gets hit in the sense he realizes this is a consequential decision. this is going to reverberate through history, what happens in this war is something we can win or can we neutralize afghanistan and pakistan? and he starts out determined to make it the good war because he said iraq was the war that we should not have fought. he gets caught in all kinds of
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traps and the traps are laid i think in good faith by the military. they always want more troops. "give me more troops." >> rose: well, also there the argument going into iraq is that they didn't have enough troops and the pentagon di not give enough troops. >> that's right. but the question is what are you trying to accomplish here? and it is notable that obama in public and in my interview with him he never uses the word "win" or "victory." >> rose: he defined it as you need the will to win. and it's not clear that he has this will to win in his campaign he was marvelous. "yes we can. yes we can." that gave him a psychological
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edge. in this there's a distance from it because he's so smart, he's so cerebral he realizes it's not going well. >> rose: so you are prepared to say that this president may not have what it takes to be a wartime president? >> he's got to prove that. the he gets an incomplete at the end of this because some of the most difficult and important decisions are yet to come. and if... this war with the military. there are so many things unsettled in all of this. >> rose: bob woodward for the hour. next. captioning sponsored by
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rose communications from washing d.c. this is charlie rose. >> rose: bob woodward is here. he is consered one of the eeminent jrnalts and succsfulutho of our time. listen tthis list:ll t present'men th cl bestein. the nal ys wh carl bernstein. the brethren with scott armstrong. wired, the short life and fast times of john belushi. veil, the secret wars of the c.i.a. 1981-1987. the commanders. the agenda inside the clinton white house. the choice. shadow, five presidents and the legacy of watergate. maestro, greenspan's fed and the american boom. bush at war. plan of attack. the secret man with a reporter's assessment by carl bernstein. state of denial. the war win, a secret white
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houseistory006-08. now theris his most recent book, it's called "obama's wars." his focus is the conflict in afghanistan. it gives new details in how president obama decided upon a troop surge and the division within his administration over that decision. for the book, woodward talked to more than 100 people and reviewed many more documents. i am very pleased to have bob woodward back on this program. first of all, good to do it here in washington and in person. thank you. >>hankou. rose: let me start with thi idea. is h been deribe as how the president came to a decision with respect to afghanistan after doing an exhaustive review. it's also characterized as somehow the push and pull between a white house and the military. describe that for me as you see it. >> it's not just one decision. it actually covers 18 or 19 months, from the beginning of his presidency when he has to
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make an initial decision on troops, the various secret debates and meetings that go on through all of last year, including the decision to add 30,000 troops. and then the secret meetings this year reviewing well, how is the strategy working? so it's not just one decision. it's kind of an endless series of decisions. and it's... part of the war is between the white house and the military. the military is just so locked in here in a way. two examples. general jones, the national security advisor, goes to admiral mull chairman of the jot chiefs, the number-one military man in the country and says "you're telling us you want 40,000 troops, there's no flexibility, the president pushes you and says give us an option, give us choice, it doesn't happen." and he said to admiral mullen
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"if we told you we want you to guard two quonset huts in afghanistan it would still be 40 troops." and mullen kind of laughs and says "yeah. 40,000." just blocks of granite. now, the military's job, particularly the defense secretary, his job is to be the window into the world of choice for a president. and gates just locked down. 40,000. he kept saying... he proposed some alternatives, but, you know it was still 40,000. >> rose: okay. but you are saying, then, that the military refused to give the president of the united states, who they work for, options when he asked for them? >> not asked for them, insisted. said... >> rose: and what was... why did they refuse? >> because they believe this is the way to do it, they had the right answer. now it's the president's job to
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decide what's the... where does this war fit in the overall national strategy, how does it compare to domestic goals that he has and so forth. and they just said no. so what happened? he designed his own option based on a memo gates sent and something gates said at one of the meetings, "well we can thin out the forces in 18 to 24 months," and obama latched on to it like a dog taking a bone and said "okay, we're going to start getting out july of next year." >> rose: give me now at this time a sense of the president as he went through this. >> i picked this as the window into who barack obama is, because he's very cerebral. he gets it in the sense he realizes this is a consequential decision. this is going to reverberate
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through history, what happens in this war is something we can win or can we neutralize afghanistan and pakistan? and he starts out determined to make it the good war because he said iraq was the war that we should not have fought. he gets caught in all kinds of traps and the traps are laid i think in good faith by the military. they always want more troops. give me more troops. >> rose: well, also, there the argument going into iraq is that they didn't have enough troops and the pentagon did not give enough troops. >> that's right. but the question is what are you trying to establish here? and it is notable that obama in public and in my interview with him he never uses the word "win" or "victory." >> rose: he defined it as something else. >> he defined it as you want to leave the country-- our country-- in a better position
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at the end. true. but here's the question i ask. in any contest-- politics, sports, war-- you need the will to win. and it's not clear that he has this will to win. you know, in his campaign he was marvelous, "yes, we can. yes, we can." that gave him a psychological edge. in this there's a distance from it because he's so smart, he's so cerebral he realizes it's not going well. >> rose: so you are prepared to say that this president may not have what it takes to be a war-time president? >> he's got to prove that. he gets an incomplete at the end of this. because some of the most difficult and important decisions are yet to come. and if this war with the military... there are so many things unsettled in all of this,
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the ghost in the machine is pakistan. here is... i was thinking about this this morning before coming to talk to you. what is pakistan? you know what pakistan is? it's the powder keg of south asia. and, in fact, it's the powder keg of the world. if you remember studying world war i in high school or college, they called it the balkans, the powder keg. the thing that could blow up. well, it did. and we had world war i. pakistan, vulnerable in so many ways. they have safe havens for al qaeda, for the taliban. it's an unstable government. they have history of military coupes. we've been looking throughout the theme in this book is obama and his team trying to find a way to leverage or coerce pakistan to stomp out those safe
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havens. >> rose: and he seems determined to want to do that even more so than previous administrations. >> i agree. >> rose: in terms of what he says. >> he's backed it up with some faction. but it's the c.i.a. that does all of the covert drone attacks from the air. c.i.a. director leon panetta, been in the job now almost two years. he's quoted in the book telling at meetings saying "look, you've got to get boots on the ground. you can't do this from the air. you have to get pakistani boots or our boots. and we are squeezing the pakistanis in many ways. there was a raid last week cross-border raid, killed 50 people. killed some... it turns out some pakistani military people. there's a 3,000 man secret term c.i.a. has that is doing cross-border operations. so we are in a period where the
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pressure is on and, quite frankly, it could blow up. pakistan could blow up. there are all kinds... >> rose: it could blow up in this particular case because of the 3,000 c.i.a. troops on the ground and perhaps being prepared to cross the border and go into... >> not being prepared but they're conducting operations. thf you expand it... look at how pakistan's response has been to just the cross-border raid with helicopters. they closed down some of the supply routes into afghanistan. they have said this is an issue of sovereignty. >> rose: yeah, but you... that's public. that's what they're saying for public consumption. privately zardari is saying "do it." >> but the drone attacks that killed the seniors, you worry about collateral damage. now, that was two years ago. >> rose: he said "we don't worry about collateral damage, you worry about collateral damage."
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>> i don't want to overdramatize it, i don't want to underdramatize it that this... pakistan could blow up and we... remember, they have 100 nuclear weapons. >> rose: and the point is here that the president has said we can't achieve our goals in afghanistan unless we're allowed to do something about a safe haven. otherwise we can't achieve our goals. stays away from the word win. >> he said at these meetings safe havens are no longer acceptable. they are unacceptable. >> rose: okay. back to this president. what's he searching for? what are his questions? what can't... what does it clearly look like that he can't get his hands around that he's looking for. a, that i can achieve our objective. b, give me an option other than 40,000 troops. c, is this in our national security to be here? >> well, this is the... this is the paradox. he said... he's doubled the
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force level. he's made a commitment, and then he said "we're going to start withdrawing in now nine months." >> rose: "start" is the operative word. you know that. >> okay. but what does it mean? no one knows what it means. general petraeus, the ground commander, doesn't know what it means. it's going to be based on conditions on the ground. >> rose: well, bob gates said it will always be based on conditions on the ground. secretary of defense. >> so what does that mean? we don't know. that's where i save the big decisions have to be made. >> rose: all right, but look... let's go back to the who's barack obama. that's where i want to come back to. >> he campaigned on domestic issues. he didn't want to really be a war president, this was visited upon him. he says at these meetings in the most emphatic terms it is not in our national security interest to be in this war for ten years. i'm not going to spend a trillion dollars. we're not going to do this
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nation building... >> rose: because we have other responsibilities and it gets in the way of doing the other things this country has to do in the next ten years. >> that's right. so he is cpounding the problem in all o this, which is always the case for presidents. what is his team? who's on that team? and it is a very unsettled team. rahm emanuel just left. secretary gates, the key... >> rose: okay. but stay with rahm emanuel. in your book, the president says "if i want t make rahm happy, i wouldn't send any troops in there." suggesting that there's a political play at... >> rose: well, not only a political play but an assessment by rahm emanuel that this isn't going to work. that this is off focus for this president. i mean, it's stunning. listen, everything the president does is political, as we know. war is an extension of politics. but, look, this is so political,
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this is so difficult, i'm... i want to dwell on this. gates who's done a good job by all accounts as secretary of defense, he met... i recount this very interesting meeting. obama calls him in and says "i want you to stay the whole term, four years." this was the end of last year. and gates is shocked. and... because he's only agreed to stay for one year. he wants out. and gates... the president presses him and gates tells others "the president sounds like a rug merchant negotiating on this." they agree on one more year. so he's going to leave some time next year. you know in any organatio when you have theeader with one foot or one and a half feet out the door, it's disorienting. where are we going? what are we doing with this war?
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>> rose: well, not only that, bob, you have quoted in here people who say "mr. president, all the people that are making these decisions with you are going to be gone! you're going to be standing there alone having to deal with the consequences of the decisions you make. gates is gone, petraeus may be you know may be gone. mullen, the chairman of the joint chiefs. what's going to happen here, and at the end of this on the eve of the decision, tom donelan, the workhorse, national security advisor, when they go through this says to general lute who's the afghan coordinator on the national security council steps "my god, what have we got this guy into?" >> rose: there's also this, bob gates says of tom donelan he becomes head of the national security council and jones leaves. what does he say? >> he says it wouldn't work out because... >> rose: the language you use
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wasn't that it wouldn't work out. >> he said it would be a disaster. now, this was last year. the question is has donelan grown? can... does he have that relationship with the military that you need to have as a national security advisor. >> rose: but let's just stay with the president and how you saw him and his decision making and whether he was the right person to be making this decision in this case at this time. >> look, there's no choice. >> rose: but we're using this to make an assessment of him. you said it. >> exactly. exactly. and one of the things i found when i went down that saturday morning to interview him in the oval office is... >> rose: sort of at the end of the process pretty much. >> at the end of the process, a couple of months ago. he just does not like war. he quotes cliches like "war is hell." his job is to impose order on the chaos. i hand... i mean, this is really revealing moment about him. i handed him a quote from a book
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that a friend of mine wrote about world war ii. it's the rick atkinson book "day of war," about the italian campaign in world war ii. and rick is one of the genius world war ii historians, understands the military like no one else. and he writes in the book, he said, look, war corrupts everyone. it leaves no heart unstained. so i hand it to obama, this quote and he's standing there and he reads it and he says "i'm sympathetic to this view. go read my nobel prize acceptance speech." so i run home and i dig it out and there it is. and obama says "war is never glorious and it is a manifestation of human folly." now...
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>> rose: but he also points out in that nobel prize speech that it is also the responsibility to make decisions in the national security and how youee it and therefore war may be necessary. >> yes, exactly. i mean, he knows that. but, you know, what's the inner obama? >> rose: well, there you go. and >> and there... this guy wants out. doesn't like war. >> rose: okay, so here you have... >> he became electric when i asked him about some things he had said on the iraq war that it's unintended consequence, unintended time, unexpected... >> rose: he became electric meaning what? >> i mean, he just... he said "yes, you're exactly right. that's what war is." and i asked, i said "look, you can't lose a war on your watch as president." he said "no, no. i don't think of in the terms of winning a war on my watch or
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losing a war on my watch. we are headed out and..." i mean here's the problem. here's the real kind of moral dilemma for him, for the country in a much more limited way off stage somebody trying to figure out what goes on like myself. what is the obligation to our troops who are over there? what do we owe them? i was just reading... my wife elsa sent me some news about a 29-year-old army sergeant named lance vogeler who was just killed in afghanistan. you know what he was on? his 12th combat tour in iraq and afghanistan. four in iraq, eight in afghanistan. leaves behind a pregnant wife,
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two children, and you read about him and what the... his leaders say about him. this was a guy who gave his... not just his life but everything about him to this war. what do we owe him? everything. >> rose: everything. whic includes not to put him in harm's way for a folly end. in other words, don't force the military to go places where the end result is not achievable or where history dictates we have no national security interest in being there. >> rose: yeah, but it means... it's got to be defined in a way... now let's go back to our old acquaintance colin powell. >> rose: right.
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>> who when you look back on the first gulf war 20 years ago we got two things. we got victory and a short and a very well-defined set of goals. there is... look, general barnum, who is the commander in afghanistan from 2003/2005 has written a review of this book and he just says i am so troubled, i am so uneasy about what we are doing. where does this fit in? what is the goal? what is the mission? >> rose: bob, here you have a president who you just described as being not really wanting... understanding the horror of war and not wanting to do this-- follow me-- not wanting to do this. then why did he do it? >> because... snipe he came to what conclusion? >> he came to the conclusion this is the best way to head
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out. now, general lute who... >> rose: he did this in order to he out? >> yes! exactly. it's a surge, it's a commitment to get out the problem is the timeline and... i just visited afghanistan briefly once and it's hell. 116 degrees. the sand blows. it's not sand, it's dust. gets in your eyes and you go blind. it is the a violent place, it is such a difficult war. now, i'm going back to the surgeon who lost his life and what we owe him. a clear mission... you know, last year the book lays out in painful detail how initially in 2009 the goal was to defeat the
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taliban insurgency, then they realized oh, my god, we can't do that the taliban is going to be part of the political fabric of afghanistan forever so now we're just going to degrade them. now, you're sergeant charlie rose throughout in afghanistan and they say sergeant, your job is to degrade these people who are trying to kill you, what to do you do? >> rose: i assume he would say when i accepted this uniform i accepted the responsibility of doing what i could in order to carry out the mission that i was given. that's what the military does, carry out the mission they're given. and he said "i'm trying to carry out the mission. i may disagree with the mission but i'm trying to carry it out." >> and there's guys trying to kill him. he's going to try to kill them. >> rose: but killing taliban or not killing taliban has never been part of the equation. somebody's trying to kill you, there's nobody in the military leadership saying if there
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somebody trying to kill you you can't attack them. that's not part of the question. you know that. >> but when you're out there on the ground don't you want to win the war, not just the battle? >> well, what you have done here... of course you want to... i think you want to win, yes. and the question from people like me and you is how do you define winning and then you're off to the races. so the president made a decision to accept 30,000 more troops, to provide 30,000 more troops because he believed it was the only way to get out of afghanistan, right? >> that's correct. >> rose: okay, then why did he said the date of july 2011? because... >> rose: because at one of these meetings it's fascinating... i mean, it's what steve kohl calls the spreadsheet like documentation of this. gates says, well, i think we can start thinning out our forces in 18 to 24 months.
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obama seizes on that just grabs it and says okay we'll give you 18 months from this point and so just, 2001, we're going to begin thinning out. it's a way of saying i want out, it's a way of saying this is a limited investment, we're not doing ten years, we're not doing a trillion dollars. now, can i make your head hurt for a moment? >> rose: yes. >> there's another side to this... >> rose: wouldn't be the first time. >> and that is there is an alternative analysis that some people who reviewed the book and discussed it and said, well, obama has actually done quite well. he is... it's an ugly war that he engaged in it, he found a way to get everyone at the end-- which he did-- to sign up to
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this. now i think it's kind of acquiescence rather than a full embrace of his strategy. and he's going forward. and he asks the right questions, he pushes. there is a... i mean, this is a guy who is a great law professor. >> rose: which means? >> which means that you have to dissect these decisions. you have to look at the consuences and so forth. now, wha general barnow, who is the commander there says what's undefined-- and i think he's hit on something really important, what's the end state what are you trying to achieve? walk away? the end state as it's defined in these secret documents which i reprint and refer to here is that the goal, defeat, dismantle al qaeda which, of course, is in pakistan, not in afghanistan.
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in afghanistan debraid the taliban so they cannot take over the government, so they can't overthrow the karzai government. well is s that enough? what does that mean? joe biden argues passionately at these meetings that we have enough force to do that already. we didn't need to add these... >> rose: that we have... if our goal is to rid afghanistan of al qaeda, we can do it with what we have? right? >> yeah. that's already happened. now... >> rose: that's called cotertrorism rather than counterinsurgent any >> yes. and what is interesting is what do you need to keep the karzai government-- unreliable as he is and the government... corrupt. i mean, at one of these meetings general petraeus, who's generally restrained, says "the karzai government is a criminal
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syndicate." when's the last time we tried to partner with a criminal syndicate and it worked out well? >> rose: okay. and what was the option in this case? if karzai is elected president of afghanistan, what is the option with respect to our presence there and trying to create some kind of governance that will allow afghanistan to survive and... without the taliban in control. do you have to deal with karzai or not? >> this is why it's so effing hard! (laughs) >> rose: i know it's effing hard. but you know more about this. in fact, i wouldn't be surprised if you had as good sources as the president did in this case! >> i think where this heads is that obama's going tv come to jesus meeting with the military, the intelligence people, the diplomats. and his political staff and say
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we need to make it clear to ourselves and to the country and the world and our troops exactly where this is. it's... look, i mean, the... >> rose: why haven't they done this so far? i mean, they've gone through the most rigorous-- which i thought was a very good idea with a very good interrogator looking for answers, the president, who's got to make the decision. why are you saying they have not been able to make it clear at this point after all of the deliberations they have undergone? >> because they would have to face some things that are pretty ugly. if. >> rose: isn't that what they're there for? to face things that are pretty ugly? >> exactly. exactly. and that's why i think it these come. look, the white house is embracing this book, interestingly enough. >> rose: how do they embrace it? >> publicly, robert gibbs, the press secretary, said everyone should read the whole book. and they have not taken issue with any of it. you said...
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>> rose: i'm taking issue with it. >> you said that i may know more about this than lots of people. the president told you have better sources than i do. >> rose: the president did? yes. >> rose: "you have better sources than i do. and he's in command of... >> come on. i don't have better sources than he has. >> rose: he said it because he thought you may know things because of a relationship with people in terms of where they would be more cab did, for real, more something? is that the import of this? >> look, i had 18 months to work on it. >> rose: no, no, you've had 30 years to work on it because you developed relations with these people so it's not 18 months. >> fair point. fair point. >> rose: you did bush's wars, too, by the way. >> yes. but let's take admiral mullen. >> rose: all right, take him. jup >> chairman of the joint chiefs. last week his press conference and they ask him about the book he says "i haven't read the book." and then they can ask him about where we're going and he said "i n't tell whether this strategy
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is going to work or not." number one... >> rose: but is that... >> no wait a minute. wait a minute. come on. you know, maybe that's realistic but we have the number-one military man saying, gee, i don't know whether this is going to work or not and we've been in this war for how many years? nine years? >> rose: okay, fair enough. now may i ask you this. does the president of the united states and the vice president of the united states think that as well? they don't in the end of the day know whether this strategy will work or not? he's reflecting what other people believe: they don't know! >> and that's why they're going to have a review in december. >> rose: is that when the "come to jesus" moment takes place? >> i think it's taking place behind the scenes now in some form because, look, you have a national security council that doesn't function in the way of bringing all the data to the
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table. >> rose: they don't bring all the da da to the tle? look, e nationalsecurity council which serves the president, that's their point to offer advice to the president and they're not bringing all the data to the table? >> let me just give you an example. general jones, national security advisor, former marine commandant decides as they're going through last year's strategy review of how many troops to recommend, he goes through all of his analysis, has all the intelligence, know it is military people and in his comper writes out i think we should send only 20,000 troops. guess what? he never gives that to the president. he never gives the president that recommendation. >> rose: are you stunned by that? >> i am. >> rose: and why wouldn't he do it? >> i pressed, i asked. >> rose: and what did he say?
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>> there's not an answer! now, look, that's... you know... >> rose: i now know why. >> that's only one of the things that goes on in this white house you have the president verbatim pressing gates. i want another option, you owe me another option. gates says "mr. president, i agree, we owe you another option." it never came. it's troubling. >> rose: exactly right. >> and somebody asked me the other night, well, are you blowing the whistle? and the answer is yes. >> rose: on the fact that? >> on the fact that there is so much unsettled and the relationships and the ability to get that on the table, the ability to have conversations. admiral blair, who is director of national intelligence for about 16 months before he was fired in the book reports that
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the national security council meetings in discussions are hollow because the real questions don't get on the table. like what to do with pakistan. and he... blair's... >> rose: i'm just... >> go through it, go through it. i'm telling you that a whole lot is unsettled. >> rose: i keep asking myself why. why don't they give the president options? what's the reason? you tell me option. >> here's the reasoning. the military background, theme music throughout all of this is vietnam. and the military remembers vietnam, they've read the books like "dereliction of duty" about the joint chiefs failing to kind of be assertive with the civilian leadership and the president and so they want to be
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tough. they say in the case of last year's review it has to be 40,000. they're not going to give any ground. they're not going to be derelict in their duty by the vietnam definition. >> rose: suppose the president said "i'm not going to give you 40,000. in fact, i'm not givinging you any more. i gave you 18,000..." >> and he threatens that in the end. >> rose: exactly. give me that story. suppose the military says "mr. president, in that case i owe you my resignation." >> and the president talked about it, he said when there was so much bickering at the end about some of the details he said, "well, i know what would make rahm happy, to not give them 30,000." and he actually says "i'm thinking of getting my speech writer to write a speech in i'm only going to give him 10,000 for trainers."
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it's pointed out to the president "well, then gates might resign." and gates said that would be troubling, he's a key member of my national security team. so he kind of road tests it with his close advisors but that's not the course he chose. >> rose: what do you think that general petraeus and admiral mullen owed the president? what did they owe him? >> well, they owed him... you know, this is an important question, particularly with petraeus, the kind of renown general of our era. as the book points out time and time again, the relationships with the white house never get settled. it's uneasy. there's a distrust of him. at one point petraeus actually tells one of his advisors that he thinks david axelrod-- the president's political advisor--
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is nothing but a spin doctor. at one point when they're pushing back with him he tells his advisors, petraeus does "they're ef-ing with the wrong guy." the president never developed a relationship with petraeus. he never developed that relationship with mullen or they with him so it could really be kind of over a beer, over a cup of coffee. what do you really think? where are we going? there's always a distance. look i was surprised when it was decided to put mcchrystal in last year. >> rose: to put anymore? >> to put anymore. this was in may of 2009 and relieve general mckiernan. president obama met with general mcchrystal for ten minutes and just to kind of rubber stamp the
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decision... >> rose: okay, but he was strongly recommended by admiral mullen. he was strongly... had the support of general petraeus. so i asked the president about this. i said what happened here? only ten minutes, i said you're picking... you're eisenhower. the president's response was, well, this is not like world war ii, i'm not like f.d.r. >> rose: that's a bad answer. >> well, it's kind of... >> rose: it is for him. >> whiskey tango fox-trot. wait a minute. this is a key person. there's a distance always the military feels it. i think sometimes you have to have personal relationships with these people get to know them you don't do in the ten minutes, you don't do it... >> rose: but we're coming back, bob, to the question what does admiral mullen and general petraeus owe the president? >> they owe him... >> rose: their best advice, yes?
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>> they're... mullen by law is the principal military advisor to the president. >> rose: he's in command of no troops, he's the principal military advisor to the president. >> exactly. and he owe his best advice. >> rose: did he give that? >> well, he did. he did, but here's another problem with all of this. joe biden and the vice chairman of the joint chiefs, general cartwright, developed a 20,000 troop option. mullen saw this and said "i'm not taking that over." general cartwright... >> rose: said to be his favorite general. obama's favorite general. >> obama's favorite general said "i'm in not in the business of not providing options." and he goes to the law which says as a member of the joint chiefs-- which hes-- the chaian i obligated to present the alternative military advice. mullen won't do it. i'm sorry...
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>> rose: i'm asking you how duds he not do it? he says it's 40,000, that's it? >> that's it. >> rose: that's it. >> i'm not doing it. >> rose: he basically says you've asked me for an option, i'm giving you the only option there is. you either take 40,000 or there's no other option. that's what you're saying is the sum total of the chairman of the joint chiefs advice to the president of the united states? >> that's exactly right. and then obama gets wind that there's another option, he tells gates and mullen he wants it presented. >> rose: and what is that? >> that's the 20,000 troop option. it's presented but then they say we did a war game called poignant vision-- perfect name--. >> rose: right. >> for four hours and it shows this won't work. and obama says "so you did a war game and it shows it won't work?" and they say yes, that's exactly right. and he said okay, if you war gamed it we'll take that oion off th table.
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you go to the war game and participants and notes and you discover it did nothing of the kind. >> rose: you quote somebody saying it was b.s. vice president biden went to the president and said what they've told you is bull. and i asked the president about this and he said well, my decision was not based on one war game. i mean, imagine that. what happened to him is a breakdown in civilian/military relations, the president didn't get, he was misled about this and it's laid out. that's what happened. >> rose: would the people that did this say that yes, bob, you caught me, we misled him. would they acknowledge that to some other sources of yours? >> they have acknowledged that
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it didn't... you couldn't reach that conclusion because it was a seminar. it wasn't a war game where you had this group against that group. now here's what the military did to the president and this is how they kind of trapped him. when he asked about that war game and they said to him, they said, look, if you do this 20 the mission will fail. now you can't, there's no bigger button on the president's console than the one mission failure. as soon as he hears that obama backs off. >> rose: so you're in the military standpoint and the president says "i need another option" and you say "mr. president, i don't know of another option. i want to please you, i'd like to give you another option." maybe you think it's an option to accept the biden strategy, the counterterrorism not the counterinsurgency. that you have option.
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biden has presented that option to you. that's an option! do you want to do that? but we don't think it will work... but we don't think that's a good idea. we don't think that will work. that's exactly what general mcchrystal said in a q&a after a speech in london. we don't think that option will work. >> right, exactly. >> rose: but there was an option that was presented and as far as i know that's the only option that was ever out there which was either to say let's make this about kaeltd oar... you mentioned colin powell. >> you raise an interesting point. what do you do when the president says i want options and they say there's only one. >> rose: well, there's the option joe biden presented. >> as i said, the president was misled on that. >> rose: which part? >> about what whether that option could work. >> rose: what general misled the president and why is he still in office? >> rose: admiral mullen and
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general sdmaep. >> rose: should they be fired star in? >> well... >> rose: you read the book. should they be fired if they misled the president of the united states? >> that's not my judgment. >> rose: suppose somebody misled you about an important item in this book that would have to do with your own integrity. would you fire them >> yes, i would. >> rose: okay, there you go. but here's the... >> you raise an interesting question. the president is pressing the military "i want other options" they say "there's only one." he keeps pressing. here's what the military could do. they could take a sheet of paper one sentence, i hereby offer my resignation. >> rose: because i don't believe... >> because i can't do the job you have assigned me. i think this is the way to do it and let the rubber meet the road this. t there's this kind of drift, unsettled is relationships that don't have the kind of trust he
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would hope. the deciding matters of life and death. sergeant vole ger... i mean, here 12 deployments, 12 deployments. i mean, i... that's all he's done. >> rose: what does bob woodward think abt thwar in afghanistan? what what es he think the president should have done? >> i think there were all kinds of alternatives. i think... >> rose: oh, there were lots of options out there. >> particularly the biden one. and biden... people who've read this have said "wow, we're surprised, biden made a lot of sense. he actually does make a lot of sense." and it's long winded and he goes through... i have six points and so forth. >> rose: let me just ask you this question. people that i've talked to say al qaeda was out of afghanistan. they were not a factor.
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so if the purpose was to kick al qaeda out of afghanistan they were already out. >> right. mission accomplished. >> rose: so bob woodward says... i think the biden option was right and so therefore what the president should have done is said mission accomplished, bring the troops home. >> i'm not saying flatly he should have done this, should have done that. i'm saying if it was a real alternative we are in a war. now let me just taken a example. the whole goal is articulated in written orders by the president: clear, hold, build and transfer. in other words the troops go in, clear out the taliban, hold an area, build, conduct countersergesy protect the population, help with schools, sewers, everything. and then transfer in meetings that are described this year,
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not many months ago in which the generals in which the generals come in and they're asked are you ready to transfer even 200 men, 200 u.s. soldiers out and send the 200... a company of afghan soldiers to take over (oh no, we're not ready. we can't do that. the president comes out of one of these meetings and says to his aides "given that description of the problem, i don't know how we're going to design a solution." >> rose: and what you have said in this conversation, they don't answer tohat question. >> not enough of a one. it's the unsettled state of this war and the relationships that... and then you throw in this powder keg called pakistan and, you know, i don't... i
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don't want to overdramatize but as i said i don't want to underdramatize. >> you don't have to, the characters dramatize it themselves. >> exactly. we are at within of those pivot points in history that we need to get this on the tracks and define where we're going and make some sense of it to everyone or we're going to go and it's going to be ten years, it's going to be... >> rose: but the president has basically said? this book and otherwise "that's not going to happen under my watch. i am not going to do that." has he not? >> well, he said "i'm not going to do ten years." i think you go around and you we minded me, i wrote four books bush and looked at all of that and what happened and there were turning points that weren't identified early enough for the president and in my business in the media and i've faulted
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myself very strongly for not looking at w.m.d. in iraq, which everyone thought was there and that i kind of wasn't hey, let's look at this, let's get this on the table. and i could have been more aggressive, should have been more aggressive and i've looked at this and i've thought about the troops there, i've said you can't blow the whistle loud enough on this this is... one of the intel people, i can't name him, experts on intelligence read this and he said you know what this? s? this is a warning document this is like the president's daily brief that went to president bush a month before 9/11. bin laden determined to strike in u.s. and the headline here is we're
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on thin ice and that not enough has been done to clarify and set the direction of a war which will not... it's not just going to define in part the obama presidency it's going to define where this country is in one year, two years, 50 years. >> rose: well said. obams wa, bob woodward thank you. pleasure to have you on the program. bob woodward for the hour. thank you for joining us. see you next time. >> rose: on the next charlie rose, stewart levy, the man at the treasury department responsible for making sanctions effective. >> i think the key thing to look at the economy, the isolation to the financial system is very significant and it has an effect on lots of different aspects... >> rose: you mean they can't get credit, they can't get working partners, they can't get a whole
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lot of stuff. >> they can't donor mall transactions and while they may be able to obtain... they may be able to do certain transactions of cash in the informal financial system, they can't run an economy like that. they're unable to attract investment, especially in their oil and gas industry. this has been... that effect has been accelerated by the sanctions over the summer both by the u.n. then by the e.u. which has forbidden new investment in iran's energy sector and by unilateral sanctions from the united states congress which has imposed the possibility of sanctions for anyone who participates in the sector. so they're unable to attract this investment. their oil production was already stagnating prior to this sanction because they were unable to attract investment, this is by their own admission and then you add on top of it sanctions and they're unable to
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develop these oil and gas fields which is their future. this is their primary economic enterprise in iran. so they're not getting... >> rose: it operates at what percentage of its capacity do you think now? >> i don't know. but it's interesting, i saw a news report a news report from the this morning predicting their exports would drop precipitously in the next few years because of the combination of sanctions and the investment environment in iran. the thing to note is that even before these sanctions iran was a difficult place for companies to invest. it was a bad investment environment for a lot of different reasons but you add on top of it the reputational harm that comes with the investment now, the possibility of sanctions especially sanctions from the united states, it becomes a very, very grim situation for them.
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no. well, it's just past there. first house in the right after the cottage on the l don't panic. brazen it out. me? - no. - right. here goes. yippee!
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10/05/10 10/05/10 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] >> from pacifica, this is "democracy now!" "democracy now!"


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