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.
Associated press Rescuers attend to a wounded U.S. soldier after a blast in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Saturday. Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said Sunday that the Obama administration “inherited a real mess” in Afghanistan” and warned that “we’re going to be engaging the enemy more now.”
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.