Washington (AP) - President Barack Obama's top advisers spent much of the past 20 months arguing about policy and turf, according to a new book, with some top members of his national security team doubting the president's strategy in
The book, "Obama's Wars," by journalist Bob Woodward, says Obama aides were deeply divided over the war in
According to the book, Obama said, "I have two years with the public on this" and pressed advisers for ways to avoid a big escalation in the
"I want an exit strategy," he said at one meeting. Privately, he told Vice President Joe Biden to push his alternative strategy opposing a big troop buildup in meetings.
While Obama ultimately rejected the alternative plan, the book says, he set a withdrawal timetable because, "I can't lose the whole Democratic Party."
A White House official said Wednesday that the president is accurately portrayed in the book as an analytical, strategic, and decisive leader. The official said the book doesn't reveal anything new about the
Lt. Gen. Douglas E. Lute, the president's
Obama was among administration officials that Woodward interviewed for the book. The Washington Post also reported on the book on its website late Tuesday night.
Although the internal divisions described by Woodward have become public, the book suggests that they were even more intense than previously known and offers new details, the Times said.
Biden called Holbrooke "the most egotistical bastard I've ever met," and a number of administration officials expressed scorn for national security adviser James Jones, the Times said.
Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, thought his vice chairman, Gen. James Cartwright, went behind his back, while Cartwright dismissed Mullen because he wasn't a war fighter.
Gen. David Petraeus, who become the Afghanistan commander this summer, told a senior aide that he disliked talking with David Axelrod, the president's senior adviser, because he was "a complete spin doctor."
The book recounts incidents in which Adm. Dennis Blair, then the national intelligence director, fought with Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, and John Brennan, the counterterrorism adviser.
It also reports that the
"This is a baseless, inflammatory comment that has its roots in a defaming propaganda campaign against President Karzai's personal integrity, leadership and his stances on matters of Afghan national interests," he said Wednesday. "The president is safe and sound. I can confirm that he takes no medication."
Associated Press writer Julie Pace reported from