TRANSCRIPT: Bob Woodward Talks to ABC's Diane Sawyer About 'Obama's Wars'


SAWYER: You quote, you quote Podesta saying you compared Obama to Spock from "Star Trek." The president-elect wanted to put his own ideas to work, he was unsentimental, capable of being ruthless. He was not sure that Obama felt anything, especially in his gut. He intellectualized and then charted the path forward.

Is that admiring?

WOODWARD: Well, a president should do what he wants and should be intellectual about it, but I think that's kind of the Obama we know. So I'm not surprised at that and he -- the question – war is in part a question of will, the will to win. And the will to win needs to be conveyed. George Bush, there was no doubt. You know, bring 'em on, I'm going to, you know, take bin Laden dead or alive. He took that back, but you knew there was this will to win and crush.

SAWYER: Does this president have the will to win in Afghanistan?

WOODWARD: That's where -- that's what we don't know. And if I were to look for an overall here, then I'd give it an incomplete. It's not over at all. He's got this remarkable general, General Petraeus, who I've known since he was a major going back more than 20 years. And there's no one in the military, there's an almost an inhuman power of concentration and focus and will, if you will, on the part of Petraeus.

Now the question is, is the task too hard, does he have all the tools he needs, does he have the time? He tells people privately if he shows some measurable progress, he can put more time on the clock. You listen to Obama in this firm, you know, we need a plan, we're going to have a plan to hand off and get out of Afghanistan, there's a different view there. And so we're going to find out in the coming months and year where that lands.

SAWYER: What else about Petraeus? What would surprise us about him?

WOODWARD: That he -- he's very, as you know, with the media. He has his own message machine, which he controls. He realizes that that's important. He has this success or apparent success in Iraq with the counterinsurgency strategy, which is protect the people.

As I report in the book, he wakes up at night and worries that maybe he's the victim of his own success. And one of the questions he is asking and asking all of his people, how does the Iraq model apply to Afghanistan? Some places it does, some places it doesn't.

There's a scene in which he's written a memo, Petraeus, to the president. He hands it out and Admiral Mullen, the chairman, hasn't seen it and he passes a message to Petraeus, said, I haven't seen this. Petraeus, literally, before the president of the United States, in the situation room, Petraeus says, can I have the homework back? And they all hand it in.

And it's a discussion about how much of the reconciliation model in Iraq applies to Afghanistan, and one of the points he makes in this memo is that you need a nuanced understanding of what's going on in each tribe, in each group in Afghanistan.

And General Petraeus' favorite intelligence officer is a man named Derek Harvey, who is kind of like a homicide detective, and he put him on the case in Afghanistan with hundreds of people. And early on, Derek Harvey tells General Petraeus, we don't know what's going on, it's the blind leading the blind.

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