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Biden urges Obama privately not to send more troops to Afghanistan [Updated]

Vice President Biden greets U.S. troops at airport in Baghdad, Sept. 17, 2009

President Obama is spending much of the next two days -- at least until he jets off to Copenhagen for his midnight diplomacy for Chicago's Olympics bid -- on Afghanistan.

Today, he met with NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. On Wednesday he meets with the major players on Afghanistan strategy, an Oval Office meeting that includes Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen and Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the student of Afghanistan who said in a recent report that the 8-year-old war would end in failure without additional troops and changes in strategy aimed at gaining the trust of the Afghan people.

But perhaps the key meeting on Afghanistan policy comes this afternoon when Vice President Biden joins the president and the Pentagon secretary in a private, serious sit-down in the Oval Office.

[Updated at 3:58 p.m.] The vice president's plan: Scale back the overall American military footprint in Afghanistan, drop the mission of rescuing the country from the Taliban, focus on strikes against Al Qaeda along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border -- the real threat to U.S. national security -- using special forces and Predator missile attacks.

Biden, with a son serving in the military and years as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also brings one memory to the table that the 48-year-old Obama does not. At 66, Biden has a visceral feel for the American casualties in Vietnam.

Obama, who campaigned for the presidency arguing that President Bush had focused too many troops in Iraq at the expense of Afghanistan, rejected Biden's advice during the first round of Oval Office meetings back in March. Amid signs he is rethinking Afghan strategy, will Obama agree this time?

The White House is trying to douse expectations of a decision meeting for any of this week's get-togethers.

"This isn't going to be finished in one meeting," said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs. "It's not going to be finished in several meetings,"

-- Johanna Neuman

Photo: Vice President Biden meets with U.S. troops at Baghdad Airport Sept. 17. Credit: Associated Press

An earlier version of this post said that the vice president had made speeches recently about his plan. Aides say Biden, in deference to the confidential relationship between a president and vice president, has been careful to keep his advice to the confines of the Oval Office.

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Comments () | Archives (4)

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I'm with JOE! Here is a man who makes no bones about what he thinks, what he is saying is what he feels.He has the decades of experience most every one else does not, he responds by instinct based in that experience. GOD Bless Joe!

Where's Obama? Off to Denmark campaigning for the Olympics?
Obama get your head in the game!!! US soldiers are dying in Afghanistan!!!

They leaked this information to Pakistan's military.Specifically it was directed to those officers in charge of Pakistan's missile program and nuclear weapons program.
The US can gladly pay for mercenaries from Turkey,Nepal and Rwanda to enter Pakistan's border areas with Afghanistan and Iran.These men can be classified as friendly advisors.
We can also offer trade agreements with both Pakistan and India,since the Chinese and North Koreans have helped Iran.
It's time to get the US land forces out of Moslem countries and use the cruise missiles in the Indian Ocean to deliver some hints about possible retaliation measures.
It would be most helpful if the Libyan leadership called on Iran and Afghanistan to show them what can happen,and to witness the rewards for showing some interest in American policies.

Vice President Biden is correct. The only goal is to prevent Al Qaeda from striking again. We can accomplish this without massive military on the ground. The Taliban and other insurgents are the Afghan's and Pakistani's concern. They should deal with the insurgents, we and our allies should focus on Al Qaeda, wherever they are.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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