Bob Woodward’s book Obama’s Wars should scare the hell out of you. It is essential reading—between the lines—for anyone seeking a map out of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Here is one example: If and when a terrorist attack occurs in the United States which can be traced to Pakistan, the American military response will be a “retribution plan” to bomb at least 150 targets in Pakistan. The plan is “one of the most sensitive and secret of all military contingencies,” Woodward writes. There is no discussion of The Day After in this scenario of saturation bombing. Nor did the President and his advisers have “anything on the shelf [which] specifically addressed securing Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.”
Such an attack already has been attempted this year, when Faisal Shahzad, who was funded and trained by the Pakistani Taliban, placed a car bomb in Times Square on May 1. Last year the FBI arrested an AQ operative, Najibullah Zazi, for planning to blow up New York subways with 14 backpack bombs, and also nabbed Chicago resident David Coleman Headley for planning an attack in Europe. Both individuals were trained in Pakistan.
In addition, Woodward reveals a May 26, 2009 secret presidential briefing headlined “North American al Qaeda trainees may influence targets and tactics in the United States and Canada.” According to the briefing, twenty Al Qaeda with Western passports were training in Pakistan safe havens to return to the West for high-profile actions. Elsewhere Woodward says Al Qaeda is recruiting and training people from 35 countries who don’t need visas to enter the US.
The reader is left with the impression that another massive and traumatic assault is to be expected in the US in the near future. We are living “on borrowed time,” according to one adviser. Obama himself vows to Woodward that “we can absorb a terrorist attack” and that “we are stronger” after absorbing the 9/11 attacks. He adds, in his low-keyed manner, “a potential game changer would be a nuclear weapon in the hands of terrorists, blowing up a major American city.” Such is the new realism.