Woodward Book: Bush Reflects on War, Legacy
A few months after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, George W. Bush was a young president, confident in his plan to rid the world of al-Qaeda and self-assured in his gut-over-textbook course of action.
Seven years later, Bush has tempered his rhetoric and changed his idea of "victory," according to interviews with The Post's Bob Woodward.
"By his own ambitious goals of 2001, he had fallen short," Woodward writes.
When asked what advice Bush would give the next commander-in-chief on how to proceed in Iraq and Afghanistan, he replied, "What I'll say is, 'Don't let it fail.'"
The fourth installment of excerpts from Woodward's new book, "The War Within: A Secret White House History, 2006-2008," examines the legacy of the Iraq War on Bush's presidency and the reflections of a leader described by Woodward as having become "the most divisive figure in the country."
The White House has disputed some of the major points of Woodward's book and public reaction has largely focused on its stark differences from his first book on the Bush presidency, "Bush at War," published in 2002.
"The series began with a generally positive assessment of the president in "Bush at War" and has moved down through deepening levels of disenchantment in "Plan of Attack" and "State of Denial," The Los Angeles Times noted. "In this latest volume, the weight of evidence finally produces a verdict -- and it isn't a happy one."
"Again and again, Mr. Woodward contrasts the upbeat picture Mr. Bush and his advisers were giving the American public with their own accelerating worries about the course of the war," Michiko Kakutani writes in The New York Times. "And again and again, he describes intelligence reports indicating a deepening crisis in Iraq and a dithering response from the White House -- shrugging off bad news, postponing decisions or simply calling up another study."
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