Transcript: Sec. Gates and Sen. McCain

STEPHANOPOULOS: And the White House has felt a little bit jammed by the military.

WOODWARD: Well -- well, sure.

STEPHANOPOULOS: In part by the leak that you got.

WOODWARD: But -- but it's very -- you know, we now have the details. This is one of the Pentagon Papers that we got in Vietnam eight years later. We now see it contemporaneously, and you see what Obama is struggling with here, and he's got -- it's delicate. Maybe there will be an inclination to not give these troops, but he can't put himself in a position where he's at war with his military.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And you saw Secretary Gates deny that there is a war with the military, despite this -- despite the phalanx of military officials saying now they want more troops.

But I wonder -- and I want to bring this to you, Tom Friedman -- John McCain rejects the idea of a middle ground. He says you're basically all in or -- or all out. But there's -- there's an interesting line in the McChrystal report where he says that a resource-intensive strategy doesn't necessarily mean that you have to fight everywhere, all the time, that you have to secure the entire country. They could pick their spots.

FRIEDMAN: Yes, I don't really know, you know, where the balance is between the large and the small footprint, George. What -- what I personally am focused on is -- is one thing. Do you have an Afghan partner, OK?

Because it's -- it's that partner that connects your troops with that ultimate goal. And if that partner is rotten to the core, OK, you -- nothing is going to work.

And the question I'm asking and I think the administration is asking, in light of the election -- think how these last two elections, the one in Iran and the one in Afghanistan, have completely overturned our strategies -- is, do we have a partner that is good enough?

You can say what you want about the Maliki government. The conclusion in Iraq was it was good enough to build on. I think McChrystal was shocked when he got over there at how rotten the Afghan parliament was.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Rotten or weak, or both?

FRIEDMAN: I think both. I wouldn't -- you know, when the president's brother is accused of being the leading mafia drug-dealer in Kandahar, that's not a good sign.

WILL: But this also is the president's excuse if he wants to do the most difficult thing a president can do, which is change his mind in public. March 27th, he said, "I am today announcing a comprehensive new strategy." He picks the general. The general picks his strategy. And that's the box he's built.

But Mr. Karzai, by his corrupt election, may have given the president the excuse he needs to rethink.

RADDATZ: But -- but they knew about Karzai before. I know the election made everything worse, but they knew there was corruption in that government. They -- they wrote about it. McChrystal wrote about it. President Obama...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Vice President Biden walked out on the ambassador (ph) earlier this year.

RADDATZ: Walked out on him. Yes, when -- when -- when President Obama set out his strategy, he, in fact, set out a counterinsurgency strategy in many ways, what he talked about, the changes you have to make there.

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