On Sunday, Vice President Joe Biden appeared on the CBS news program, Face the Nation. Biden was asked about several domestic and foreign policy initiatives that the Obama administration is pursuing.
Biden Discusses Afghanistan Policy
During the foreign policy discussion, Biden was asked if there would be more US military casualties in Afghanistan because of the new administration’s commitment to increase US troop levels by 30,000. Biden said:
“I hate to say it, but yes I think there will be. There will be an up-tick, because as the Commander in Afghanistan said, ‘Joe we will get this done, but we will be engaging the enemy much more.'”
Biden’s admission was discussed in a Los Angeles Times article that appeared in the Grand Rapids Press on Sunday titled, “Expect US casualties to rise in Afghanistan, Biden says.” The Press version of the article omitted about half of the original content but did mention there was “an outcry from Afghanistan over a U.S. operation that the United States said killed 15 militants but Afghan officials said had claimed the lives of 16 civilians, including two women and three children.” Reuters news service reported that thousands of Afghanis gathered on Sunday to protest “against President Hamid Karzai and the United States on Sunday over reports of fresh civilian deaths caused by U.S.-led troops during a raid against Taliban militants.”
Continuing the Bush Policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan?
Omitted from much of the US news coverage on Monday were other parts of the Biden interview on Face the Nation about Afghanistan and Pakistan. When asked about a US drone attack inside Pakistan last week and whether or not the new administration will continue the Bush policy of allowing he US military and CIA to go into Pakistan to fight Al Qaeda terrorists, Biden said:
“I can’t speak to any particular attack. I can’t speak to any particular action. It is not appropriate for me to do that. But I can say that the President said during his campaign and during the debates that if there are actionable targets that he would not hesitate to use action to deal with that. But here is the good news, and I have been to Pakistan many times, there is a great deal more cooperation going on between the Pakistan military. We are working with the Pakistanis to help training up their counterinsurgency capabilities and we are getting new agreements with them on how to deal with these cross border movements, so we are making progress.”
Biden doesn’t really answer the question as to whether or not the new administration will continue what the Bush policy began but it seems for now to be a continuation with last week’s attack inside Pakistan killing up to 20 civilians.