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


SAWYER: But that's changing a history, a culture, essentially.

WOODWARD: This is Riedel's point. He said it may take decades. And then he said -- in a quite direct way -- he said you may never be able to do it.

SAWYER: Just a question again about everything you unearthed. Even you can be rolled, right? Even you can be spun? How can you believe this? These are people who are willing -- who are willing to tell you about private meetings at the White House. How can we believe this?

WOODWARD: Because I have gone over notes. I have seen the documents. I talked to not one person or two, but dozens, and at some points talked to eight or 10 people at these meetings. This happened, that happened.

SAWYER: Does it keep you up at night worrying that some part of it's wrong?

WOODWARD: This is not an engineer's drawing. It's journalism. But it is an honest, intense effort to tell what's really going on.

SAWYER: Anybody going to come after you?

WOODWARD: Oh, always. You know, welcome to our business. You just never know who it's going to be.

SAWYER: But you're absolutely confident that you have done nothing -- nothing that endangers American strategies, endangers American troops, endangers America's approach to the war?

WOODWARD: I am, because I've gone to the experts and the intel people and the other people and said, "This is what I'm going to use." And I'll -- and they weren't happy with some of it. I say, "I'm going to draw the line here."

And, you know, it's -- it's -- it's a green light. I think I should tell you -- and there's one thing I found out about that they asked me not to publish. And I asked, where would it be on the Richter scale, from zero to 10? And one of the top people said a nine. And it's not in the book.

SAWYER: You said that, at the end of the day, you conclude President Obama is a reluctant warrior.

WOODWARD: Now, I'm not saying -- I don't say he's a reluctant warrior. I've -- what he did when I talked to him -- it's fascinating. He -- I said, well, war, you know? Because his famous Iraq speech, he said, well, in -- if there's an Iraq war -- because this was before the invasion -- he said you go into a world of undetermined costs, consequence and time.

And I asked -- said, well, all war's like that, and he jumped on it. He said it sure is. And he quoted General Sherman from the Civil War. He said, "War is hell."

And he went on -- and you listened to him on this, and you realize -- he said his job is to impose clarity on the chaos. And I showed him a quote from a book from a Post colleague about World War II, about how war corrupts everyone, no heart goes unstained, showed it to him. And he read it, and he said, "I'm sympathetic to this view. Go read my Nobel acceptance speech."

And you read that speech, and he talks about war sometimes being necessary. He says it's never glorious, and it is an expression and manifestation of human folly.

SAWYER: So looking at everything you found out and everything you reported, is this any way to run a war?

WOODWARD: You know, the nice thing about being a journalist is you don't have to give grades or make judgments. You just try to chart what happened. I'm convinced people will have very different reactions to this. I think there's so much new about what -- how he looks at this, how his mind works, what the turmoil and danger is out there.

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