September 17th, 2009
11:33 AM ET
11 years ago

Biden: Too soon to say if more troops needed in Afghanistan

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="It's too early to say whether more troops are needed for Afghanistan, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday."]

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) - It's too early to say whether more troops are needed for Afghanistan, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday, days after the top U.S. military officer said more forces are probably needed in order to effectively fight the insurgency.

"I think that's premature," Biden told CNN's Chris Lawrence in Baghdad, Iraq, while the vice president was on a brief trip there. "The president made a decision back in March setting clearly what our goal was - (it) is to defeat al Qaeda in that region - and made a significant deployment of resources, civilian and military. They're now only getting in place; they're not all fully in place and deployed."

Biden said a reevaluation of resources in Afghanistan should only happen after the result of last month's presidential election in Afghanistan is
cleared up. There are widespread allegations of massive fraud in the August 20 vote.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai secured more than 54 percent of the vote, according to the final uncertified results announced Wednesday. But the results won't be certified until investigations of election irregularities are completed.

The Afghan people must feel they have a legitimate government, because "the prospect of success is in direct proportion to the legitimacy of the government," Biden said. "And I still think that is very possible, but it is not done yet."

Adm. Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told U.S. senators this week he wants a "fully resourced counterinsurgency" in
Afghanistan. The Afghan people are waiting on the sidelines to see how committed the United States is, he said.

"A properly resourced counterinsurgency probably means more forces," Mullen said, but how those forces will be composed in terms of combat troops and trainers will be a matter for discussion in the coming weeks.

"I have a sense of urgency about this. I worry a great deal the clock is moving very rapidly," he said.

Biden pointed out there has been no formal request for additional troops in Afghanistan, a decision that can only be made once the election outcome is determined and the present troops are in place.

"There's a lot of discussion going on, there's a lot of hypotheticals being raised by all of us," Biden said. "But as the president said, a decision
on resources is not imminent - additional resources."

Biden spoke to CNN the same day that the United States was announcing it would scrap the controversial missile defense shield in Eastern Europe. He explained the logic of the decision, saying Iran - a key concern for the United States - was not a threat.

"I think we are fully capable and secure dealing with any present or future potential Iranian threat," Biden said. The Iranians "have no potential
at this moment. They have no capacity to launch a missile at the United States of America."

The concern for the United States and its allies with Iran right now is whether they develop and deploy a nuclear capability, because that could set off a destabilizing arms race in the Middle East, Biden said.

The vice president closed the interview by addressing the controversial remark by former President Jimmy Carter, who said he believes racism is an issue for President Barack Obama in trying to lead the country.

Carter's initial comments came after Rep. Joe Wilson interrupted Obama's speech on health care to a joint session of Congress by shouting that the president was lying.

Biden acknowledged it is an "incredibly controversial issue" but said Obama doesn't see it the way Carter does.

"The president does not believe, nor do I believe, it's racially based," Biden said.

Filed under: Afghanistan • Joe Biden
soundoff (58 Responses)
  1. Proud Member..Party of No

    Yeah, the complete dunderhead Biden knows better than the generals what we need...............sheeesh, this administration just gets worse and worse.

    September 17, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  2. Fair is Fair

    Whatever, Biden. I'm sure you know soooooooo much more than the Generals on the ground. Buffoon.

    I'll tell you this, though. I live near an air force base... and there has been an incredible increase of cargo plane activity both coming in and going out. Something is going on.

    September 17, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  3. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    I like the stepped up efforts of the administration for this war. Not only are we fighting these terrorists in AfPak, but abroad. The killing of the Al Queda lieutenant in Somalia is excatly the way this war needs to be fought. We need to identify strongholds and fid they enemy where ever they may hide.

    September 17, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  4. Pee Wee

    Since Iran is not a threat, we have no need to expend the resources to attend the six party talks set up for October. Further, we can pull all of the troops now in Iraq out, since there is no threat. We can also get out of Afghanistan, since the neighborly actions Iran is destined to make will keep the peace there as well. With all of the savings, we could extend Medicare to all citizens of the US, not just seniors.

    September 17, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  5. Sam Sixpack

    "Too early to say?" In three weeks we'll been there for eight years!

    Oh, I get it, you mean POLITICALLY too soon.

    What a bunch of lairs.


    September 17, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  6. Lilarose

    There is NO WAY we can "win" a war in a place like Afghanistan.

    There is no end to the people who are willing to fight for the Taliban and al Qaeda.. Kill ten, twenty more join up. They are impoverished people, they are uneducated, they are afraid not to cooperate.

    Considering twenty percent of the world's population is Muslim, there is a steady supply of these people to join in what they perceive as their war against the West.

    We can gain an upper hand on them, but eventually they regroup and will fight forever.

    September 17, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  7. Jenn, Philadelphia

    During the campaign, Obama said one of the problems in Iraq was that the Bush administration didn't listen to the generals and give them whatever they needed for their mission. Now, "it's too soon to say more troops are needed" when that's what the generals want. I sure am glad he "isn't like other politicians" and says whatever he needs to get elected.

    September 17, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  8. Enough

    Too soon!! Just goes to show they don't have a clue what they are doing. Let's ask Biden about ACORN and the racism claims by Carter. Would love to hear his opinion...............always entertaining!

    September 17, 2009 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  9. T22

    Since we've ordered our troops not to fight back, we'll need more to replace all the ones this administration is killing. They sent more troops without a change in strategy, except not to fire when fired upon if they're anywhere near civilians, who are aiding the enemy. The reason the enemy is getting help from civilians is they know the US won't hurt them but the Taliban will. Seems like we need to make the price for harboring the people who attacked us a little higher.

    Screw nation building, go after the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

    September 17, 2009 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  10. Wake Up

    It's scary when Biden is the most qualified foreign policy person between him and Obama. Wow, both are just so unqualified and incorrect.

    September 17, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  11. Sam Sixpack

    We could ask when we're pulling out of there, but these guys would just lie to us again.

    September 17, 2009 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  12. gary davis Harbor Oregon

    you tell em Joe Biden
    I am tickled every time I see you on TV . always a nice honest smile and you are one of the few that truely beleive in what this country needs to do . if anyone thinks not .then walk a mile in Joe Bidens shoes . I think you are great ..

    fire it up
    ready to go !


    Gary Davis
    Harbor Or.

    September 17, 2009 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  13. Sam Sixpack

    When a hypocrite's liar lies its magically OK.

    September 17, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  14. phoenix86

    Someone best tell Joe that Obama surrendered to the Russians and Iranians yesterday and won't bother to protect Poland or the Czechs before he makes any commitments to help the Afghan's against the Taliban.

    Obama is surrendering US leadership almost as fast as he is increasing the deficit.

    September 17, 2009 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  15. Kevin in Ohio

    How about a "surge"???? Oh, that's right....this administration has never acknowledged that it was successful in Iraq. Obama running this war is probably alot like the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders running the NFL.

    September 17, 2009 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  16. SLM

    Translation – We Don't know what we are doing.

    September 17, 2009 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  17. Really

    Where are the war protesters? Wasn't this war suppose to be over by now. I thought Obama was anti-war. We need people to camp outside Obama's house until the war is over. His missle strikes are terrorizing poor innocent people. He should be tried for war crimes. Oh wait, I am sorry, this was a cut and paste if there was a republican president in office. No – Obama is doing a great job and he is fighting for freedom across the globe. Long hail the chief.

    September 17, 2009 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  18. David

    I see ol' Joe is leaving it open to increase war. this figures. These guys take their marching orders and spin it to the country. Ever wonder why BO has not lived up to promises he tried to sell like those on the Patriot Act and the war on terror? It's because he is a puppet to the same group that Bush was.

    September 17, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  19. DJ

    Afganistan doesn't even know who their own President is yet alone being able to have a secure government. Carl Levin is right that we need to focus on a political solution to help stabilize and build-up their own security forces.

    September 17, 2009 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  20. Scott, Tucson

    Looks like we may be sending in more troops AFTER the 2012 election when the two Chamberlain's wannabes i.e. Obama and Biden, have been removed from office.

    It's controversial for these two because to send in more troops would go against their leftist base who wanted all troops pulled out.

    September 17, 2009 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  21. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    Continue to prevaricate and pretend you don't yet support a plan to kill more soldiers for many years to come in a Third World country whose major export is 90% of the world's opium supply. Help make your Boss a one-term wonder in foreign affairs as well as domestic.

    September 17, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  22. Willy Brown

    Democrats are weak on national security and protecting our service members.

    September 17, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  23. Sam Sixpack

    Your kids are in continuing danger because of Obama's personal political agenda.

    What makes you think he isn't going to, at the earliest opportunity, pull the plug on your Grandma?

    September 17, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  24. Bluebonnet

    So, let me get this straight. Biden is in Iraq, presuming to estimate troop needs in another country fighting another war?? and after top brass have asked, begged, for more troops??? And Obama campaigned on this war, said it was the correct war, etc.??? More change we can believe in? I want my money back.

    September 17, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  25. New American Poll

    Biden is lost also. He doesn't know because it is too soon? And he is suppose to be a leader of this country. Folks, if you haven't already realized it, we are in trouble!

    September 17, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
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