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Vice President Joe Biden says Afghanistan policy still developing

8:14 PM, Jul 28, 2010   |    comments
Vice President Joe Biden.
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By David Jackson, USA TODAY

FORT DRUM, NY -- Vice President Biden said Wednesday it is "much too premature" to begin judging the Obama administration's policy in Afghanistan, but he said this week's release of classified war documents increased public skepticism.

"I'm sure it does raise concern with the American people," Biden told USA TODAY during an interview here, after greeting troops returning from Iraq. "I don't blame them for being confused."

Biden said the White House won't be able to assess whether President Obama's decision to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan is working until December, when a formal review is due. "We will know by then whether or not the approach we're taking is bearing fruit," he said.

Asked if the U.S. would send more troops if the strategy isn't working, Biden said: "I do not believe so."

Biden emphasized that the administration must do a good job continuing to explain the current plan. "No war can be sustained without the informed consent of the American people," he said.

Most Americans continue to support the war as part of a broader mission to wipe out al-Qaeda. Support has eroded, however. In a Gallup Poll two weeks ago, six in 10 said the war was going badly for the United States.

The release of nearly 77,000 classified reports to the website WikiLeaks.org probably didn't help, Biden said. The reports bolstered concerns that the war is unwinnable and our Pakistani allies unreliable.

Biden said the documents, covering 2004-09, related mostly to events during the Bush administration. "There's a war that was neglected for basically eight years, six years at least," he said.

In Congress, some Democrats aren't willing to wait for Obama's policies to pan out. On Tuesday, when the House passed $33 billion for war funding, 102 Democrats voted "no."

Biden said there will be some Democrats and Republicans who oppose continued U.S. presence in Afghanistan. "I'm not criticizing them," he said. "I respect their view."

USA TODAY

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