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US administration ‘divided’ over Afghanistan

September 22, 2010

President Barack Obama’s special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan believes the current strategy cannot work, according to a new book.

The claim, published in the New York Times, is from a book by veteran reporter Bob Woodward.

Reports say the book paints a picture of in-fighting in the administration.

Some key players doubt the president’s strategy of sending 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan and starting to withdraw next summer.

Bob Woodward, who made his name exposing President Richard Nixon’s cover-up of Watergate has written a searing series of books about President Bush and the Iraq war so his latest work “Obama’s war” has been eagerly awaited in Washington.

Now the New York Times say it has a leaked copy.

It cites quotes from Richard Holbrooke, the special envoy to the region, saying “It can’t work” and the president’s main advisor on Afghanistan says that the painstaking White House review which took months “didn’t add up” to the policy that was adopted.

It says the CIA has a 3,000-strong secret army inside Afghanistan and that intelligence reports suggest the Afghan President Hamid Karzai has been diagnosed as a manic depressive.

Mr Woodward’s book paints a picture of President Obama demanding an exit strategy, saying “I can’t lose the whole Democratic party” and irritated with the military for boxing him.

Perhaps most significantly it hints at conflicts to come over the timetable for a US withdrawal.

It quotes the top US soldier in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, as believing they could “get more time on the clock”, and then being told by a senior advisor: “That’s a dramatic misreading of this president.”

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