Obama's Top Advisers Split on Afghan Troop Levels

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 4, 2009 10:13 AM CDT
Vice President Joe Biden speaks about the economy Thursday.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
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(Newser) – President Obama's advisers are divided over the Pentagon's expected request for more troops to be deployed to Afghanistan, reports the New York Times. Joe Biden is leading the just-say-no camp, arguing that the mission in Pakistan is more important. The opposition includes envoy Richard Holbrooke, who says US troops are vital to the task of protecting Afghan civilians. It's a "healthy debate," said one administration official.

Hillary Clinton hasn't weighed in on the current deliberations, but she's expected to side with Holbrooke. In comments he made this week, defense secretary Robert Gates seemed open to an increase—a shift from his previous position, rooted in concerns about the US looking like an occupying force. “Obviously, there are a variety of opinions," said a diplomatic David Axelrod, "and it's important to hear those views."