Intense Debate Led to Obama Afghan Compromise
Biden warned against being dragged into political, military quagmire
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 28, 2009 6:49 AM CDT
Afghan police patrol near the wreckage of a car after an explosion near the Koohekarak shrine on the outskirts of Khost, south of Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, March 21, 2009.    (AP Photo/Nashanuddin Khan)
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(Newser) – President Obama's new Afghan strategy was forged after intense debate among advisers, reports the New York Times, with VP Joe Biden being the voice of caution, warning against being dragged into a quagmire there. All advisers agreed that the goal should narrow to tackling al-Qaeda, rather than Bush-style nation-building. But military chiefs called for more troops while Hillary Clinton and Richard Holbrooke wanted focus on fighting corruption and the poppy production that is fueling the Taliban.

Biden's advice carried a lot of weight with the president, officials said—especially his observation from his recent trip to Afghanistan that 10 people there, asked what American objectives were, would give 10 different answers. The final strategy, according to officials, was a wide-ranging compromise: 4,000 more troops devoted to training Afghan forces, and more diplomats and resources focused on development in both Pakistan and Afghanistan.