“A Promised Land” by Barack Obama (5)

Obama campaigned for the White House as an anti-war candidate: he had opposed the invasion of Iraq and, in the presidential election campaign, he argued that the war in Afghanistan had been neglected as a result of the focus on Iraq.

Once in the White House, however, he quickly found himself having to back the withdrawal plan for Iraq signed by Bush a month before inauguration and agreed an extra three months for withdrawal of combat troops compared to the timetable he had proposed in the campaign. He took longer to review the situation in Afghanistan but eventually agreed to the deployment of 30,000 extra troops there.

Obama had something of a reputation for taking his time to make decisions and being very deliberative about the process. In these memoirs, he explains that, over two months, he presided over a series of nine two-to-three-hour meetings in the Situation Room to evaluate the military’s plan for Afghanistan.

The irony was that, a mere nine months after becoming president, Obama was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace. He acknowledges “the tension between getting a peace prize and expanding a war”.


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