Biden Goes Rogue on Afghanistan?
9:15 AM, Dec 15, 2009 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
This morning on MSNBC's Morning Joe, Vice President Biden said that U.S. troops would rapidly withdraw from Afghanistan. "You're going to see that [troop numbers] chart coming down as rapidly over the next two years," Biden said after looking at a chart showing troop numbers surging from 33,000 at the beginning of 2009 to 98,000 in the summer of 2010. "This is not a Coin [counterinsurgency] strategy," Biden said. "We just want to make sure that the Taliban is diminished enough so that the Afghan government can contain it."
Perhaps most troubling, Biden said: "the president has made something exquisitely clear to each of the generals: He said do not occupy any portion of that country that you are not confident within 18 months you're going to be able to turn over to the Afghans. Do not occupy what you cannot turn over."
Placing this requirement on the generals seems to contradict statements by the president and his advisers that July 2011 is the beginning of a gradual conditions-based withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Secretary Gates has said that the withdrawal will be a "kind of gradual conditions-based transition province by province, district by district, that we saw in Iraq." President Obama himself said during his address on Afghanistan at West Point "Just as we have done in Iraq, we will execute this transition responsibly, taking into account conditions on the ground."
Gates has said of the Afghan war "We are in it to win." Don't Biden's remarks diminish our ability to win?
Watch Biden discuss Afghanistan on MSNBC here: