I think the president has in his head what he wants to do. One of these meetings before Thanksgiving, and there's a, there's a great line talking about Rahm Emanuel, his chief of staff. He said, "Nothing would make Rahm happier than if I said no to the 30,000," meaning within the White House political staff, there's tremendous pressure on the president to not do this.
SAWYER: He's visited on the eve of the decision again by two of his national security advisers who basically say again, you do not have to do this.
WOODWARD: There is a Saturday morning after Thanksgiving when he's essentially decided on 30,000, and it's kind of one of those meetings where he calls people who are around into the Oval Office, including General Lute, who is a sleeper figure in all of this, to say the least, somebody who is the three-star general who's in charge of Afghanistan through the National Security Council staff.
And the president opens the door and says, "What do you all think?" And one of the colonels says, "Well, you can't defy the military. You're going to have to do what they want."
General Lute then, in one of the most extraordinary interchanges in the White House I've ever heard about, says, "Mr. President, you don't have to do this," that this is not required. And "Let's look at the situation we're in right now."
SAWYER: And there are so many reasons that would worry anybody about the ability to succeed.
SAWYER: -- gambled right.
WOODWARD: He said there are four risks and said these risks are so great in terms of governing and Afghanistan and dealing with Karzai, as we now see unfolding with intense drama right now before our eyes, the issue of training the Afghan security force if they can take over, the issue of Pakistan, which is the X factor in all of this. And then international support, which is not as solid as it should be.
So, General Lute says to him, "All of these risks, they're not independent. They're cumulative. They make it worse and you move from a calculated risk to a gamble." You've got kind of one of the foremost experts saying, "You are taking a gamble, Mr. President."
Obama says, I think rather graciously, "I know that's hard for you to come in here and tell me that, but we are going to have to execute our heart out to make this work."
SAWYER: Yes. He basically says, thank you, I've decided. Done.
WOODWARD: Look, he --
SAWYER: So it's both sides?
WOODWARD: Yeah. And he --- there's a point after these meetings have been going on for about six or seven weeks where he's meeting with Gates and Secretary Clinton and General Jones, and a couple of others, and he just -- this is kind of -- you can see it's what he feels and what his conclusion is. He said, I'm not doing 10 years. I am not doing never-ending nation-building. I'm not going to spend a trillion dollars. He just --
You know, this is Obama wants exit. But he wants it with a certain kind of accommodation to the military.
SAWYER: But it seems, reading the book, how much that any of us knew -- how much firmer he is about 2011 and what that means. He has in his mind a cap? The military will not come back and ask for more? He has a cap?
WOODWARD: He has a cap. And the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Mullen, finally told them at two of the meetings, when pressed by the president, Admiral Mullen said, "We will not come back and ask for more troops again." That's it.
SAWYER: What's the angriest he gets at the military?