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Speed Reading 'the War Within': Heck Of A Job, Casey

The first thing you notice out in the early pages of Bob Woodward's The War Within are the showy indictments of President Bush, who leans on poor General George Casey, Jr. like a fraternity pledge-master disappointed with his charge. Casey, who's something of an academic (he studied IR at Georgetown and the University of Denver, and he'd never been in combat) accuses Bush of focusing on body counts, an attitude that Casey identifies with the "Kill the bastards! Kill the bastards!" wing of the Republican Party--which is presumably the Douglas MacArthur wing that believes we lost (or tied) in Vietnam and Korea because we held back.

Casey wants to draw down U.S. forces because he believes the occupation is undercutting Iraqis' sense of self-reliance. Bush thinks that means Casey wants to lose. "George, we're not playing for a tie. ... I want everybody to know we're not playing for a tie. Is that right?" he asks during a video conference in 2006. Attempting to motivate his general through mutual deprecation, Bush tells Casey, "you're doing a heck of a job. ... But then, I said the same thing to Brownie."

--Barron YoungSmith