Axelrod: Afghanistan Drawdown 'Real' not 'Trivial'

David Axelrod discusses the war in Afghanistan with Christiane Amanpour

ByABC News
September 26, 2010, 10:51 AM

September 26, 2010— -- Contrasting recent statements by administration officials that the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan set to begin in July of 2011 could be small, the president's top political adviser David Axelrod told "This Week" anchor Christiane Amanpour that, "everyone agreed that the drawdown would begin in July of 2011, and not a trivial drawdown, but a real drawdown."

In July Vice President Joe Biden told "This Week" that the drawdown "could be as few as a couple of thousand troops."

The comments from Axelrod come on the eve of the release of Bob Woodward's new book, "Obama's Wars." In the book, Woodward writes about internal divisions between key military officials and political advisers over the Afghanistan war strategy.

General David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, said in an interview with the Times of London this week that, "It is not a date when we rush for the exit and reach for the light switch to turn it out before leaving the room."

President Obama set the deadline during a speech at West Point last December. Critics say political considerations rather than circumstances on the ground in Afghanistan influenced the deadline -- a view that some say has been reinforced by Woodward's book.

According to excerpts published by the New York Times, Woodward writes that Republican Senator Lindsay Graham described a conversation he had with the President in which he was told, "I can't let this be a war without end, and I can't lose the whole Democratic Party."

General Petraeus, according to published accounts of the book, told an aide he dislikes speaking with Axelrod because he is a "complete spin doctor." Asked about that quote on "This Week," Axelrod said, "I've seen General Petraeus in interviews with you and others and I've always been impressed with how deft he is on TV, so I assume he meant that as a compliment."