On Sunday, an old Army friend sent me a note to let me know that an officer with whom we both served had died in Afghanistan. I first fought in Afghanistan more than a decade ago, so the fact that friends are still fighting and dying there more than 10 years later gave me pause.
Despite President Barack Obama’s promise to reverse the neglect of the Afghanistan War that had marked his predecessor’s time in office, most of the United States is eager to forget the war. So it will be interesting to see the reception that greets Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s new book on the dysfunction that has plagued the U.S. war effort since Obama took office in 2009.
Chandrasekaran (disclosure alert) wrote much of the book in an office just a few doors down from mine at the Center for a New American Security, while on leave from reporting on the Afghanistan War for the Washington Post. He gave me a copy late last week, and I read it in two sittings over the weekend. The book argues that the United States squandered its best chance at reversing the momentum of the war in 2009 by sending a massive portion of its “surge” forces into Helmand province, one of the more sparsely populated areas of Afghanistan. Chandrasekaran further alleges that vicious infighting among members of the Obama administration doomed efforts to promote reconciliation among Afghanistan’s warring factions for the first 18 months of the president’s term in office.