Monday, September 14, 2009

... and counting ...

(Occasional sobering thoughts.) U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) (below left) said this yesterday about the ongoing NATO role in Afghanistan:

'My view is that the mission has to be very clear. I believe it is not now. ... I don’t believe we can build a democratic state in Afghanistan. I believe it will remain a tribal entity.'
Not encouraging words from the Chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. But not much of a surprise, either, given recent news from that Central Asian country:
► An airstrike 10 days ago is said to have killed as many as 90 persons near Kunduz, and though it is hard to say how many were "militants," it is known that among the injured was a 10-year-old boy. NATO is investigating the decision to strike of German troops, who place the death toll closer to 50. In Berlin yesterday, Chancellor Angela Merkel (below right) promised "full clarification," "and expressed regret for possible civilian casualties, stating as parliament renewed debate regarding Germany's ongoing involvement:
'Every innocent person who is killed in Afghanistan is one too many.'
► The passage of 3 weeks since voting for President has yet to yield a winner, and tarnishing indications that incumbent, Hamid Karzai, will be the likely winner is a "chaotic count ... marred by allegations of widespread irregularities including phantom polling stations and stuffed ballot boxes."
As for Iraq, scattered violence persists even as the United States continues its plan to withdraw combat troops before next summer comes to an end.
With all this in mind, here's the casualty count since our post 6 weeks ago:
► Iraq Body Count reports that between 93,081 and 101,578 Iraqi women, children, and men have died in the conflict in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003, representing an increase of between 562 and 572 deaths in the last 6 weeks. According to the U.S. Defense Department, 4,343 American servicemembers have been killed in Iraq, representing 15 servicemember deaths in the last 6 weeks. (As posted, U.S. troops are the only foreign forces remaining in Iraq.)
► Respecting the conflict in Afghanistan, military casualties in Afghanistan stand at 830 Americans and 55 other coalition servicemembers. That's an increase of 67 and 37, respectively, in the last 6 weeks, and a total servicemember casualty count of 1,384.

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