Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said Sunday that there will be an “uptick” in American casualties in Afghanistan as the U.S. military increases its presence in that country, which he characterized as “a real mess.”
The vice president’s prediction prompted outrage from liberal antiwar groups who characterized it as “cavalier,” although a leading scholar at a Washington neoconservative think tank called the Biden remarks an overdue recognition of reality.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai foreshadowed other difficulties Sunday with any “surge” of U.S. forces into his country, condemning a U.S. operation he said killed 16 Afghan civilians and demanding greater Afghan control of U.S. military operations.
Mr. Biden, in an interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation” conducted from his home in Wilmington, Del., said the situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated, blaming a “failure to provide sufficient resources - economic, political and military - as well as failure to get a coherent policy among our allies - economically and politically and in terms of the military resources.”
He said corruption is “rife” because the Taliban is in “effective control of significant parts of the country they were not before” and because of the opium and heroin drug trade.
“The bottom line here is, we’ve inherited a real mess. We’re about to go in and try to essentially reclaim territory that’s been effectively lost,” Mr. Biden said. “There are going to be some additional military forces. There are going to be additional efforts to train their police and to train their Afghan army. And all of that means we’re going to be engaging the enemy more now.”
President Obama has said he will send more troops to Afghanistan as he withdraws combat soldiers from the war in Iraq, insisting it is the real front to the “war on terror.”
CBS host Bob Schieffer asked Mr. Biden whether his comments mean more American casualties should be expected.
“I hate to say it, but yes, I think there will be. There will be an uptick. Because as the commander in Afghanistan said, he said, ‘Joe, we will get this done, but we’re going to be engaging the enemy much more,’” the vice president said.
Leaders of antiwar groups that opposed Mr. Obama’s campaign calls to escalate the fight in Afghanistan were frustrated Sunday by Mr. Biden’s choice of words.
“It shows a kind of cavalier treatment of U.S. casualties by calling it an ‘uptick,’ as if there is just some little meter,” said Brian Becker, national coordinator of the Answer Coalition. “Behind the statistics are going to be grieving families and of course tragic loss of life.”
Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Code Pink, found Mr. Biden’s words “offensive” and called it a “terrible sign” that Mr. Biden is preparing the nation for the intensified conflict.
“We only need look at history of the British and Soviets to know that sending more troops is not going to solve the problem, it’s only going to mean more deaths on both sides,” she said.
Answer plans a march on the Pentagon on March 21 to “end the war and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan,” Mr. Becker said.
“There were no Afghanis on those airplanes on September 11, yet since October 7, 2001, many thousands of Afghani people have died,” he said. “A military option is something of a fantasy. There’s no light at the end of that tunnel.”View Entire Story
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