Sunday, March 21, 2010

...and counting...

(Occasional sobering thoughts.) The U.N. Security Council has begun debate on whether to renew the mandate of UNAMA, the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan; it's set to expire this Tuesday.
Debate started with the presentation of the latest report of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon respecting Afghanistan. The presenter, Alain Le Roy (below left), Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, told the Council:
'Concrete steps must be taken by the international community to allow Afghans to be in charge of, and lead, processes while providing the capacity-building and support required for Afghan institutions to take on this role, including in civilian areas.
'At the same time, the Afghan Government must concretely demonstrate that it can deliver on the accountability required for a real transition process to be sustainable.'
No doubt hindering efforts is the Dutch decision to pull out of the NATO coalition in Afghanistan. That withdrawal has the United States thinking about looking for help outside NATO, according to the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, Michèle A. Flournoy (below right).
A story just published in Newsweek, moreover, contends that the idea of Afghanistan taking over is a pipe dream -- that $6 billion that's gone to training Afghan police to take over for coalition forces was money not well-spent.
In Washington, meanwhile, "thousands" protested U.S. intervention yesterday, not only in Afghanistan, but also in Iraq. The 7th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was Friday.
With those developments in mind, we revisit the casualty count since our last "...and counting..." post 6 weeks ago:
► The U.S. Department of Defense reports that coalition military casualties in Afghanistan stand at 1,024 Americans, 275 Britons, and 393 other coalition servicemembers. That's an increase of 34, 17, and 2 casualties, respectively, in the last 6 weeks. The total coalition casualty count in the Afghanistan conflict is 1,692 service women and men.
► Respecting the conflict in Iraq, Iraq Body Count reports that between 95,724 and 104,427 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 409 and 430 deaths in the last 6 weeks. According to the U.S. Defense Department, 4,385 American servicemembers have been killed in Iraq, representing 9 servicemember deaths in the last 6 weeks. (As posted, U.S. troops are the only foreign forces remaining in Iraq.)

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