President Obama: U.S. Troops to Afghanistan at 'Fastest Pace Possible'

Gibbs responded by pointing out that Obama has doubled the number of security forces since he took office, making the country more safe.

"I would be a busy man if all I did was respond to the poppings off of the former vice president," Gibbs said on "GMA." "I'm not entirely sure what qualifies the former vice president to render an opinion on Afghanistan."

Obama Faces Skeptical American Public

Obama addressed some of the criticism and concerns that have been aimed at his administration during the strategy review. First, the president said that there are some who suggest "suggest that Afghanistan is another Vietnam," but he dismissed that as "a false reading of history"

"Unlike Vietnam, we are joined by a broad coalition of 43 nations that recognizes the legitimacy of our action. Unlike Vietnam, we are not facing a broad-based popular insurgency," he said. "And most importantly, unlike Vietnam, the American people were viciously attacked from Afghanistan, and remain a target for those same extremists who are plotting along its border."

Obama said that to abandon the Afghanistan-Pakistan region would "significantly hamper" the United States' ability to keep pressure on al Qaeda and risk future attacks at home.

As he increases the number of troops in Afghanistan, Obama is faced with the ghosts of wartime presidents past. The annual approval ratings of the last three presidents enmeshed in unpopular wars -- Harry S. Truman, Lyndon B. Johnson and George W. Bush -- declined sharply during their presidency.

How the ongoing war in Afghanistan affects Obama remains to be seen, but there clearly are challenges.

The president's approval rating on handling Afghanistan has fallen more steeply than on any other issue, down from 63 percent last spring to 45 percent in the most recent ABC News/Washington Post poll.

Of those polled, 52 percent said the war in Afghanistan has not been worth fighting and 64 percent thought the risk of terrorism is the same whether the United States remains in Afghanistan or withdraws.

Gibbs said the president "sure believes" this is the last time he will be sending new troops.

ABC News' Martha Raddatz, Z. Byron Wolf and Gary Langer contributed to this report

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...