A former senior adviser in the Obama administration says that “ravenous” political faction-fighting between aides to the president and those around then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, President Obama’s presidential-primary rival in 2008, hobbled U.S. policymaking in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“Turf battles are a staple of every administration, but the Obama White House has been particularly ravenous,” writes Vali Nasr, an academic who worked for Richard C. Holbrooke, the special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan in Mr. Obama’s first term.
Mr. Nasr’s book, “The Dispensable Nation,” is to be published next month. A lengthy excerpt is being published on Monday by Foreign Policy magazine, and the book’s contents were reported in The New York Times.
“Those in Obama’s inner circle, veterans of his election campaign, were suspicious of Clinton. Even after Clinton proved she was a team player, they remained concerned about her popularity and feared that she could overshadow the president,” Mr. Nasr writes, according to The New York Times.
The bureaucratic turf conflicts, Mr. Nasr writes, excluded Holbrooke from secure video conferences that Mr. Obama had with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and from a presidential trip to Kabul, undermining the diplomat’s credibility with the Afghans.
The rivalry between the White House and State Department staff did not extend to the two principals, Mr. Nasr says, and indeed, whenever possible, Mrs. Clinton went directly to Mr. Obama on policy issues to get around the “Berlin Wall” of his staffers.
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Shaun Waterman is an award-winning reporter for The Washington Times, covering foreign affairs, defense and cybersecurity. He was a senior editor and correspondent for United Press International for nearly a decade, and has covered the Department of Homeland Security since 2003. His reporting on the Sept. 11 Commission and the tortuous process by which some of its recommendations finally became ...
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