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Obama, an Afghanistan war exit plan, and getting 'rolled'

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Brennan Linsley/AP

(Read caption) A US Army Chinook helicopter from the 101st Airborne Division transports US infantrymen from one position to another in Zhari District, southern Afghanistan on Sept.15.

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Bob Woodward's new book on the battle within the Obama administration over commitment to the Afghanistan war, objectives, and exit strategy promises to be awkward for the president and his party as midterm elections in November get closer.

Excerpts published in the Washington Post this morning show Gen. David Petraeus demonstrating the kind of contempt for his civilian bosses that cost former chief of the Afghan war, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, his job. It shows a President Obama deeply leery of an open-ended commitment to war in a country referred to since the 19th century as the graveyard of empires.

Excerpts also show a military establishment pushing for more control over war policy, with senior officers favoring a long-term commitment to a population-centered counterinsurgency strategy, rather than a mission more narrowly focused on Al Qaeda.

IN PICTURES: US soldiers in Afghanistan

What's new?

Little in the substance of this is new. Obama's desire for a withdrawal timeline and a limit on the blood and treasure to be spent in Afghanistan, as well as historical evidence that points to the difficulty of getting a counterinsurgency strategy to work in Afghanistan, have been discussed in the press since at least last summer.

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