October 21st, 2009
03:31 PM ET
4 years ago

Possible decision on U.S. troops before Afghan runoff election

Afghan President Hamid Karzai failed to score a first round win in August's election.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai failed to score a first round win in August's election.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama could decide how many additional U.S. troops to send to Afghanistan before the country's scheduled November 7 runoff election, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Wednesday.

Gibbs said he did not know when Obama would make the decision, but left the door open for the president to move forward sooner rather than later.

The comment came as the administration is trying to demonstrate it willingness to work with any legitimate Afghan government regardless of the election outcome.

The upcoming runoff election presents a critical opportunity for Kabul "to reestablish the credibility of its governance," Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry said Wednesday.

Kerry, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, recently returned from a fact-finding trip to Afghanistan.

White House officials are taking pains to show the United States is heeding Afghan President Hamid Karzai's decision not to interfere in the election.

Obama pledged Tuesday that U.S. officials "will continue to work with our (international) partners as well as the Afghan government, however this election turns out."

Gibbs downplayed hints of a rift between Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel over the urgency of Obama's decision on U.S. troop levels.

Emanuel said Sunday that the United States had to determine it had "a credible Afghan partner" first. Gates, however, stated that "we're not just going to sit on our hands, waiting for the outcome of this election and for the emergence of a government in Kabul."

–CNN's Suzanne Malveaux contributed to this report.


Filed under: Afghanistan • President Obama
soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. Obama Victim

    sending more troops??? it was my understanding that The Messiah was going to end all these wars??..............well, perhaps just another lie

    October 21, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  2. Paul from Phoenix

    Take your time Mr. President. You started getting briefings the day after the election, so you have only had 1 year to think about this.

    Please, don't rush into anything. It isn't like our troops are dying in larger numbers since you moved into the White House. And your time has been much better spent fighting for the Olympics then determining our nation's course of action in its current conflict.

    October 21, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  3. LacrosseMom

    The Republican war-mongers, are upset that President Obama is carefully discerning escalating the war in Afghanistan. When it took BUSH THREE MONTHS to decide on the ...... "surge" in Iraq!

    People forget that Afghanistan has been at war constantly throughout time; with each other, with the Brits, with the Soviets.

    We can not afford the wars any longer! Its time to bring our Troops home from Bush's wars! We will not win the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan. We must win over the hearts and minds of the Muslim world.

    Thanks to a Republican president Ronald Reagan the Taliban is well trained! Reagan's Regime trained the Taliban to help them fight the Soviets! What a joke! Now we are fighting the Taliban! Bush sent our sons and daughters there to fight Al-qaeda they are gone.

    PLEASE PRESIDENT OBAMA END THIS SENSELESS WAR!

    October 21, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  4. ANONYMOUS

    The man just cannot make a decision!! Our men and women over there are left to his mercy and he wants to make sure HE looks good! What a loser you liberal chose.

    October 21, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  5. victim of republican greed

    Obama sent 20,000 additional troops to Afghanistan in March to shore up the holes in Bush's Swiss Cheese approach of waging war.

    October 21, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  6. victim of republican greed

    Since they want to wage war so badly, it is time to draft 60,000 wingnuts to fight in Afghanistan.

    October 21, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  7. Greg Hodges

    I have been of the opinion over the last year or so that there is no real hope of defeating the Taliban or wiping out Al -Quada as long as they could safely hide out in Pakistan. Now that the gov`t. of that country has FINALLY woken up to the fact that you can`t make deals with the Devil; and are now ready to step up and fight the thugs in an attempt to drive them out of Pakistan; would it not be both ironic and tragic that they could once again hide out in Afghanistan due to Western forces giving up the fight just when it MAY be possible to really have them in a position where there is NO WHERE TO RUN; if Pakistan`s military is up to the task. We owe it to ourselves to hang in there for at least one more year. Time may actually be on OUR side for once!!!

    October 21, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  8. Mike Syracuse, NY

    In a surprise White House announcement, Obama's decision is: 'present'.

    October 21, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  9. Beryl Lindsey

    A truly responsible US government would not let John Kerry, the ex-Army officer who threw his medals into the Potomac out of disrespect for his own troops, anywhere around the military now.

    October 21, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  10. Scott, Tucson

    I guess it's a good thing this crisis wasn't a 3 AM phone call huh.

    October 21, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  11. phoenix86

    I am sure that the troops now in Afghanistan don't mind being without direction or reinforcements while the doper in chief makes up his mind.

    October 21, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  12. Diane Dagenais Turbide

    The fact that the U.S. with the international communities has convinced the Afgan official to have an election runoff; it is a major step to pressure in the right direction a more solid Afghan partner with us and for the Afghan people in facing the Afghan situation; the vital partner needed will have to step up and this has been the first step up; indeed it does not stop the U.S. from making a decision but that pressure step was well needed after eight years!!!

    October 21, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  13. Padraig

    If we cannot fully support our military forces with what they actually want and need then get them out! By not supporting them our adminstration is equally as guilty as our enemies.

    It is time to pack up and get out of both Afghanastan and Iraq.

    October 21, 2009 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  14. obummer, 1 and done

    Will wonders never cease, obummer is going to make a decision!!!

    Well it hasn't happened yet so don't hold your breath!

    October 21, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  15. Joe

    Welcome to Vietnamistan.

    October 21, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  16. Will Obama be the 10 trillion dollar man

    What do you expect from " PRESENT MAN"

    October 21, 2009 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  17. jobless recovery

    Obama has no idea what to do. Our troops are in danger because we elected a leader who has no experience or substance. God bless the troops.

    October 21, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  18. stan

    All the Democrats have to do is start talking about immigration reform,and ask the Gop is they for it or against it,then you will see the gop true colors because their base wont go for it,the Democrats can get back in the race in Virginia,because the Gop base is going to tick off alot of Hispanics in Asians,so what is the Democrats waiting for,the Gop is scared to death of talking about illegal immigration,just like he Whitehouse is scared to death of talking about race,why cant the Democrats see this,right now Mcdonnell in Virginia is getting 50% of the latino vote,but if the Democrats go after him on immigration his true feelings will come out because he cant upset his base,thats why the Gop dont want to talk about it,because they dont want to upset the base ..or the latino cummunity,but they need both to survive in the future.the Democrats has got to go after the Gop weakness on immigration,ive been waiting to see this for weeks.can they see how terrified the Gop is to talk about immigration and any form.

    October 21, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  19. Sue

    I thought Mr. Obama HATED WAR????? What the Heck is he doing to us NOW?????

    October 21, 2009 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  20. Kevin in Ohio

    He got the plan on Sept 2. What is taking this president so long? I am starting to think he is in favor of a Taliban takeover.

    October 21, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  21. Liberals are Sneaky

    Yeah, that's right. Take your time Obambi. It's not like our soilders lives are on the line.

    October 21, 2009 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  22. phyllis

    I hope that, this run off that they are having, will be honest, and not like the last one, and the election in Iran. I hope that, Mr. Abdullah Abdullah wins this one by a land slide, so their want be any questions, about who won. I think maybe he should be given a chance to see what, he can do for these poor people. They need someone who is honest, and will put their interest, and the interest of their country first. I don't think that the present government can do that. Mr. Karzai has not been able to stabilize his government or his country. thank you.

    October 21, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  23. Matt

    This idiot is out Limbo dancing while my brother waits to see if he can get some back up.

    Can't we impeach for gross incompetance?

    October 21, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  24. Chris D.

    Reality check.....even if or when the President orders the troops to go to Afghanistan, they would not arrive there in entirety until sometime next year......The 20k he ordered to Afghan, in February have just arrived in the past two to three months, and I think(not sure) that all 20k have not touched the ground yet........So oir GOP hacks to criticize the Pres. for taking a month to go over the intricates of warfare, is a non starter since this war was not paid attention to until January 2009......

    October 21, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |