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Joe Biden update: If it's Thursday, this must be Iraq

January 13, 2011 |  7:12 am

Democrat vice president Joe Biden smiles at Afghan troop Trainees 1-11-11

Vice President Joe Biden -- remember him? -- has fled the non-political violence of the United States to visit the distant lands of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq not yet wracked by the violence of civilian peace times.

The ex-senator is putting on a lot of frequent-flier miles this week. He first showed up in Afghanistan unannounced. Well, actually, he wasn't unannounced. For security concerns, Americans back home had no idea where their vice president was.

But, it turns out, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and probably one or two others in that troubled land knew all about it last week.

And all the heavily-armed Afghan soldiers lined up for the foreigner's brief photo-op may have had a hint that someone important would soon be smiling around -- even if not everyone standing there holding a gun as they were told knew that the grey-haired grinning guy entered the U.S. Senate, whatever that is, when President Obama was a sixth-grader, whatever that is.

In all three countries Biden met with political and military leaders. Everyone was smiling and jokey for the 60 seconds that the traveling media pool was allowed to witness. Much of the usual talk about working together and increasing security and turning things over to whomever is left standing. And how the U.S. is only helping out and isn't interested in staying anywhere.

In Afghanistan, Biden chatted up some U.S. troops at breakfast, and when he discovered a bunch from somewhere called Delaware, he hung around to commiserate over football losses by the Eagles and the Delaware whatevers in the Div. II NCAA Championship game.

This morning in Iraq, as bombs exploded in the distance, the VP told reporters, "I'm here to help the Iraqis celebrate the progress they made. They formed a government. And that's a good thing. They have a long way to go."

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Pool via Getty Images (Biden smiles at Afghan Army trainees).

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