Woodward: Bush ‘too often failed to lead.’

In his fourth book on President Bush, called “The War Within,” journalist Bob Woodward reveals a president who was hardly at the helm of his own Iraq war policy. The Washington Post offered a preview of the book:

According to Woodward, the president maintained an odd detachment from the reviews of war policy during this period, turning much of the process over to [National Security Adviser Stephen] Hadley. “Let’s cut to the chase,” Bush told Woodward, “Hadley drove a lot of this.” […]

In response to a question about how the White House settled on a troop surge of five brigades after the military leadership in Washington had reluctantly said it could provide two, Bush said: “Okay, I don’t know this. I’m not in these meetings, you’ll be happy to hear, because I got other things to do.”

Woodward also notes that “groundbreaking surveillance techniques” — and not the surge — were largely responsible for the drop of violence in Iraq, and he details the conflict between Bush and his top military advisers, particularly Gen. George Casey:

Casey had long concluded that one big problem with the war was the president himself,” Woodward writes. “He later told a colleague in private that he had the impression that Bush reflected the ‘radical wing of the Republican Party that kept saying, “Kill the bastards! Kill the bastards! And you’ll succeed.”‘” […]

Calling Bush “the nation’s most divisive figure,” Woodward ends his book with a stinging indictment of the president, saying he was “rarely the voice of realism on the Iraq war.”