A forthcoming book about the Afghanistan war claims that Vice President Joe Biden warned President Barack Obama that military leaders’ plans for an Iraq-style “surge” were deeply flawed and would not produce the same results as they did in Iraq.
The book, “Little America: The War Within the War for Afghanistan,” by Washington Post reporter Rajiv Chandrasekaran, details internal debates leading up to the president’s decision to send more soldiers to Afghanistan. His prior book, “Imperial Life in the Emerald City,” exposed vast contractor fraud and the opulent living conditions inside the U.S. military’s “green zone” in Iraq’s capital.
It also reveals for the first time that Biden sent a secret memo to Obama in November 2009 arguing that “anyone who took part in our discussions” would hold “profound questions” about the military’s preferred counterinsurgency strategy, namely because the Afghan government sorely lacked the capabilities to assert itself in security and domestic matters.
President Obama ultimately decided in 2009 to send more than 30,000 additional soldiers to the war zone following a lengthy review, bringing the total number of American troops deployed in the country to roughly 100,000. The “surge” level President Obama settled on was 10,000 less than what General Stanley McChrystal recommended and 10,000 more than what Biden had pushed for.
President Obama has since set a withdrawal date for NATO forces in 2014, but warned last month that the U.S. and its allies must not “rush for the exits,” which he said could give rise to a situation where coalition forces were “having to go back in.”
According to iCasualties.org, 1,388 U.S. soldiers have died in Afghanistan since President Obama took office in 2009 — significantly more than the total who died during President George W. Bush’s two terms, despite the current president overseeing just a quarter of the nearly 11-year-long war’s duration.
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