New York: The White House has seized on a new expose of President Barack Obama`s Afghan war deliberations by ace reporter Bob Woodward, saying it proved he was a thoughtful, decisive leader.
The Washington Post legend`s past blockbusters have often wounded presidents, with their inside-the-room details of political infighting, indecision on the part of the commander-in-chief and West Wing turf wars.
But senior US officials said they hoped Americans would read the book `Obama Wars` which is published on Monday, and reflect on the President`s efforts to frame an exit strategy from the brutal nine-year war.
Excerpts from the book published in two newspapers showed that Obama groped for just such a strategy amid fierce divisions among top advisors and powerplays by the military for more troops last year.
"I hope people read the book. It is in our national interest, as I said a minute ago, to ensure that ... if we have a way in, we have a way out," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said yesterday as Obama flew to New York for UN meetings.
The excerpts suggested that Obama, frustrated with the Pentagon as he sought to stop the war consuming his young presidency, dictated his own new six-page strategy.
Woodward reports that the administration was besieged by warnings of possible terror attacks on US soil and reveals the CIA established a covert Army in Afghanistan to hunt and kill Taliban fighters.
Half of the reporting team that brought down president Richard Nixon over Watergate, Woodward is renowned for deep examinations of successive administrations, which can set media and public perceptions of a new president.
His account is based on a lifetime of contacts in Washington`s political and national security establishment and includes interviews with administration heavy hitters, including Obama.
Senior officials yesterday were already seeking to shape the narrative provoked by the book, saying it portrayed Obama as shrewd and strong leader.
"The President comes across in the book ... as a commander in chief who is analytical, strategic, and decisive, with a broad and clear-eyed view of our national security and his role as president," a senior official said.
"It shines a light on his strong leadership and his commitment to finding the right strategy in Afghanistan," the official said on condition of anonymity.