Clinton, Gates: Obama Has Big Decision to Make on Afghanistan
(3am call ringing for 9 months)
President Barack Obama's top defense and diplomacy advisers said the United States retains the Afghanistan war goal that he outlined just two months into his presidency -- to sideline Al Qaeda -- but changing circumstances require a reassessment of how to get there.
A "snap decision" on whether to add more U.S troops would be counterproductive, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday.
Whatever the president decides, the military will salute, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said.
"It's important that at the end of the day that the president makes a decision that he believes in," Clinton added.
The question of whether to further escalate the conflict after adding 21,000 U.S. troops earlier this year is a major decision facing Obama and senior administration policy advisers this week.
"We are not leaving Afghanistan. This discussion is about next steps forward and the president has some momentous decisions to make," Gates said.Obama invited a bipartisan group of congressional leaders to the White House on Tuesday to confer about the war. And Obama will meet twice this week with his national security team.
Divided on Afghanistan, Congress takes up a massive defense spending bill this week even before the president settles on a direction for the war.