Eight years in Afghanistan
With the war in Afghanistan reaching its somber eight-year mark Wednesday, President Barack Obama is on the cusp of a decision that could redefine his presidency.
He faces a clamor of opinions from military advisers, Congress, the American public and even Vice President Joe Biden — all clashing on whether to escalate the fighting or refocus efforts on Pakistan or elsewhere.
A withdrawal, however, seemed to be off the table.
“The president is going to make a decision — popular or unpopular — based on what he thinks is in the best interests of the country,” said White House press secretary Robert Gibbs on Tuesday, adding that Obama is focused on the right strategy, not on “who’s for or who’s against what.”
Nevertheless, Obama met Tuesday with a bipartisan group of congressional leaders at the White House to help him with the call.
The president added 21,000 U.S. troops to the war earlier this year. Since then, public opinion of the military effort has eroded and Biden and others have voiced their concerns with raising troop levels again.
This week alone, Defense Secretary Robert Gates called for a more limited war debate and national security adviser James Jones said that military advice should be relayed through the chain of command. Jones’ comments were an ostensible rebuke to Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, who has lobbied for a troop increase.