01/12/2013 01:19 pm ET Updated Mar 14, 2013

How Many Dead and Wounded Soldiers Ago Did Obama Give Up on Afghanistan?

Fred Kaplan writes for Slate that President Obama has called it quits in Afghanistan, to which I say darn right and about time.

But how many dead and wounded soldiers ago did he realize it was hopeless?

In the spring of 2009, Obama announced his decision to send what turned out to be 33,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, a 50 percent increase above what was already there. The death toll shot up.

But David Sanger, in his book Confront and Conceal, wrote that within just a few months, as early as the summer of 2009, Obama had begun a "reassessment of whether the war was as necessary as he first believed."

And according to Sanger's murky sources, the recognition that things were hopeless came by June 2011 -- more than a year and a half ago. "Obama had learned … that he could not remake Afghanistan. …. He had come full circle in his ambitions for the country where empires and armies have met ugly stalemates," Sanger wrote.

Cynics have long suspected that Obama’s hawkish campaign talk about Afghanistan was purely a political ploy, in order not to be written off as a dove. After all, the conclusions Sanger says Obama finally reached by mid-2011 were pretty darn obvious to the vast majority of foreign policy watchers well before he even took office.

So why did Obama wait two years to "change his mind," and four years to pull out? Over 1,300 American servicemembers have died in Afghanistan since the summer of 2009 -- well over half of all the dead during the entire war.

When did he know it was hopeless?