Woodward: ‘Surge’ not the main factor

The WashPost is touting its serialization of Bob Woodward’s latest book, The War Within. Here’s a summary of today’s installment:

In the fall of 2006, the nation’s military leaders found themselves badly out of sync with the White House over what to do in Iraq, with one of the Joint Chiefs telling Bush, “You’re stressing the force, Mr. President, and these kids just see deployments to Iraq or Afghanistan for the indefinite future.” But as the surge progressed in 2007, violent attacks began to drop dramatically in Iraq. Was the surge the reason for this reversal? Knowledgeable officials say the influx of troops was just one of four factors, and not the most consequential one.

By the way, in a quick skim of the excerpt, I did not find the reference to the "four factors" mentioned in the summary sent to me today. But I did find them in a WashPost news story from three days ago:

The book also says that the U.S. troop "surge" of 2007, in which President Bush sent nearly 30,000 additional U.S. combat forces and support troops to Iraq, was not the primary factor behind the steep drop in violence there during the past 16 months.

Rather, Woodward reports, "groundbreaking" new covert techniques enabled U.S. military and intelligence officials to locate, target and kill insurgent leaders and key individuals in extremist groups such as al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Woodward does not disclose the code names of these covert programs or provide much detail about them, saying in the book that White House and other officials cited national security concerns in asking him to withhold specifics.

Overall, Woodward writes, four factors combined to reduce the violence: the covert operations; the influx of troops; the decision by militant cleric Moqtada al-Sadr to rein in his powerful Mahdi Army; and the so-called Anbar Awakening, in which tens of thousands of Sunnis turned against al-Qaeda in Iraq and allied with U.S. forces.

11 thoughts on “Woodward: ‘Surge’ not the main factor

  1. Lee Muller

    Does anyone really believe that Bob Woodward knows anything about the war in Afghanistan and Iraq?
    Does anyone really believe that he has these secret sources, supplying him with facts that no other reporter has?

  2. Herb Brasher

    The New York Times has a good article on the Taliban and the Pakistani military being cahoots. Rather than in Iraq, this is where the critical and real (non-)war on terror is happening.

  3. Lee Muller

    Democrats were unanimous in authorizing war in Iraq for Bill Clinton in 1998, citing the WMD and haven given Al Qaeda. As soon as President Bush actually invaded Iraq the Democrats changed 180 degrees, declaring that Iraq was benign.
    They claimed that “the real war is in Afghanistan”, but they have opposed every war effort there, from interrogating the prisoners to calling in air strikes that might kill a few alleged “civilians”.
    Democrats are liars.
    They don’t want America to win.
    Obama, groomed from an early age by Muslims, certainly doesn’t intend to pursue Bin Laden or any other terrorists.

  4. Susanna

    Doesn’t surprise me. History is rarely neat and tidy with simple cause-and-effect relationships. The beginning or end of any war is often due to a combination of factors.

  5. Vanessa Mitchell

    I think the book got it right while, Americans are baking in the glow of Palin, we are forgetting we have not won the war, 80,000 more jobs were lost in August, and the icing on the cake is Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae just got a couple of billion dollar bail out. The stimpulus check was a bandage, we’re in trouble and I don’t think some that took 6 years to finish college is qualified, Bush was a “C” student and now look where we’re at?

  6. faustd

    My sense is that Bob Woodward is a huge liberal, and as such, he’ll say whatever it is that he thinks will boost Obama or bust McCain.
    And on top of that, isn’t he the once famous Woodward of Watergate fame? This joker considers himself to be the guy who once brought down
    a Republican president, and seems to me to be forever trying to regain past glory.
    I’m with Lee onthis one: Why should I believe Woodwards’ version of this story?

  7. p.m.

    You know, Norm, we might be at war in Iraq because Democrats failed. It’s also possible we’re at war in Iraq because it was a good idea. What would have happened had we not gone to war no one knows.
    No matter what, I wouldn’t pick Bob Woodward as my authority on the situation there, or Dan Rather, or Barack Obama.

  8. Norm Ivey

    The problem with the war in Iraq is that it shouldn’t have happened. Hussein was a terrible tyrant and needed to be deposed, but he did not have a role in the attacks on 9/11. Iraq did not pose an imminent threat to the United States. We were not asked to intervene by countries in the region. We invaded a sovereign nation. Whether we were friendly with that nation or not is irrelevant. The information presented to the American people was incomplete, and many of us (myself included) supported the war based on what we were told. When the truth began to be revealed, I was shamed, and I vowed I wouldn’t be misled in the same way again. We have lost over 4100 lives in what even Bill O’reilly has called “the wrong war.” Now, instead of Iran having an adversary next door, they have a friendly government.
    I agree–I would not rely on Bob Woodward, Dan Rather, or even Obama as my only source for accurate information about the war. There are plenty of books out there–including by members of the Bush administration–that illustrate again and again the recklesspath we followed into this war.
    The Afghanistan war was and is the right war. The terrorists who attacked the United States on 9/11 were trained in Afghanistan, and the the Taliban gave them safe haven.
    I honor the sacrifice and service of the service men and women who have done everything their nation has asked of them and more, but we never should have asked them to go to war in Iraq.
    Jesse Odom is a South Carolina Marine who was among the first to enter Iraq, and who was with (the first casualty of Operation Iraqi Freedom) Lt. Shane Childers as he passed away. I challenge everyone to read his book and not be moved–no matter which side of the debate you are on.

  9. Lee Muller

    Saddam Hussein provided safe harbor for Bin Laden and his top staff. Bin Laden decided to spread them out, some to Pakistan, some to Afghanistan.
    Iraq had 2 major hijacker and terrorist training camps, captured intact, along with records of payments financing some of the 9/11 hijackers and bribes to 250 UN and European officials.

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