Politics

Pelosi Jumps Into Obama, Cheney Feud Over Afghan War

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday joined the battle between former Vice President Dick Cheney and Obama administration officials over the strategy of the war in Afghanistan.

Pelosi chided Cheney for asserting Wednesday that President Obama is "afraid" to make a decision about whether to ramp up war at the request of his military advisers or scale back the effort and focus on going after Al Qaeda in Pakistan, as some of his political advisers are urging.

"That's really not a dignified statement," Pelosi said Thursday. "The president has a very difficult decision to make. I don't think that's a constructive comment to make."

On Wednesday, Cheney pushed Obama to support his top military commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who was chosen in May by the president to take over the war and is now reportedly seeking up to 40,000 additional troops on the ground where there are currently 68,000 U.S. soldiers.

"Having announced his Afghanistan strategy last March, President Obama now seems afraid to make a decision, and unable to provide his commander on the ground with the troops he needs to complete his mission," Cheney said in a speech to the Center for Security Policy.

Cheney also criticized Obama for the pace of his deliberations.

"The White House must stop dithering while America's armed forces are in danger," he said.

Obama has said he will make a decision soon, possibly before the Nov. 7 runoff election between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his rival Abdullah Abdullah.

Cheney also countered a recent claim by White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel that the Obama administration had to form an Afghan war strategy from scratch because the Bush administration hadn't asked any key questions about the war and left it "adrift."

Cheney said that the Bush administration had developed a new strategy on the war in Afghanistan before leaving office -- a strategy that he said "bears a striking resemblance" to the one announced by Obama in March.

Cheney said the Bush administration handed Obama's transition team a policy review of the Afghan war conducted last fall to meet the new challenges posed by the Taliban.

"They asked us not to announce our findings publicly, and we agreed, giving them the benefit of our work and the benefit of the doubt," Cheney said.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Cheney's statements were "curious."

"I think it's pretty safe to say that the vice president was for seven years not focused on Afghanistan," he said Thursday. "Even more curious, given that an increase in troops sat on desks in this White House, including the vice president's for more than eight months -- a resource request filled by President Obama in March."

"What Vice President Cheney calls 'dithering', President Obama calls his solemn responsibility to the men and women in uniform and to the American public," he said. "I think we've all seen what happens when somebody doesn't take that responsibility seriously."