From what we know of Joe Biden’s “skunk at the White House picnic” skepticism of increasing troop deployments to Afghanistan during President Obama’s three month strategy review process, it would appear — on the surface — that Biden didn’t come up with the winning hand.
After all, Obama is committing to sending 30,000 more US troops next year on top of the 68,000 there now. Doesn’t sound like the Biden plan.
Or does it?
Scratching beneath the surface, the fact is that a lot of the new framing and focus — and the so-called exit horizon — are all solidly Biden.
Given what I have seen of the speech leaks thus far, Joe Biden deserves significant credit for key parts of the President’s plan and also gave President Obama what he wanted through this process — a public airing of civil debate and heterodoxy of thought that came smack dab up to President Obama’s desk.
Biden played his advisor-in-chief role and worked vigorously for a “narrowing” of America’s objectives and commitments in Afghanistan.
According to a senior White House source, Vice President Biden believes that the review led by the President has produced a sound strategy — but that the Vice President’s contributions helped shape clear, narrow and achievable goals for Afghanistan: denying Al Qaeda sanctuary, disrupting the Taliban so it can’t topple the government, and accelerating transition to Afghan responsibility for their own security and governance.
Biden has helped choke down the nation building script and encouraged that the surge Obama will outline not be open-ended.
According to this senior White House official, “the strategy calls for a commitment of additional resources up front, but it also tells American people how and when this ends.”
The how and when it ends part is very much Bidenesque.
Tomorrow morning, Vice President Joe Biden will be appearing on all three network morning shows explicating and defending President Obama’s plan.
— Steve Clemons