WAR STORIES

Was Biden Architect of Afghan Strategy?

President Obama has just unveiled his new Afghanistan strategy to the world, a plan to bolster the 17,000 US troops scheduled to join the fight with an additional 4,000 noncombat advisers. But how did he come to his decision? According to The New York Times, Obama's thinking process was as advertised during the campaign—he first consulted with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who passed on commanders' requests for a long-term increase of combat troops and billions in new spending to bolster Afghanistan's own security forces. But Vice President Joe Biden cautioned against sinking into a possible quagmire and questioned whether more far reaching plans could make it past Congress. He also influenced Obama with his on-the-ground reporting from a recent visit, where he warned that "if you asked 10 people on the ground what American objectives were, he would get 10 different answers." Obama responded by narrowing American goals from broad nation building to defeating Al Qaeda first and foremost.