Monday, October 10, 2011

...and counting...

(Occasional sobering thoughts.) In the 18 weeks since the last installment of this recurring feature, I visited Ottawa, where I encountered the sign at left. Ironic at initial glance, but probably not so: can't imagine that the signmaker missed the jarring nature of pointing war in one direction, civilization in another.
As had occurred as well just before our last post, just last week came confirmation that NATO would continue the aerial combat begun in Libya, a U.N. Security-authorized intervention that began "[m]ore than six budget-busting months ago," as The New York Times' Steven Erlanger wrote in a recent story on the negative lessons to be learned from this NATO intervention. Confirmation of further NATO involvement, nevertheless, came from Leon Panetta, the United States' new Secretary of Defense and former CIA Director, came in the wake of a Los Angeles Times report of division among NATO allies.
► In Libya, counting casualties is especially uncertain. As The New York Times recently reported, recently the post-Qaddafi regime claims "30,000 to 50,000" of their fighters died, while in "the country’s morgues, the war dead registered from both sides in each area so far are mostly in the hundreds, not the thousands."
Meanwhile, U.S. presence remained in Iraq, and conflict in Afghanistan and in Afghan-Pakistan border regions continued.
► In the latter conflict, killings but drones, planes without pilots, remained controversial. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, a London-based nongovernmental organization, contended in August " that bombing raids by unmanned aircraft had killed up to 168 children in Pakistan over the last seven years," but the United States "strongly rejected" the assessment.
credit for 2008 Associated Press photo, by Alauddin Khan, of funeral of
victim of suicide bombing in Kandahar, Afghanistan)
For servicemembers, meanwhile, this past August saw more casualties of U.S. servicemembers than any other month since the conflict began 10 years ago.
The U.S. Department of Defense reports that in Afghanistan, coalition military casualties stand at 1,803 Americans, 382 Britons, and 572 other coalition servicemembers. That's an increase of 198, 13, and 37 casualties, respectively, in the last 18 weeks. The total coalition casualty count in the Afghanistan conflict is 2,757 service women and men.
► Iraq Body Count reports that between 102,868 and 112,419 Iraqi women, children, and men have died in the conflict in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003. That represents an increase of between 1,747 and 1,965 persons in the last 18 weeks. August passed in Iraq without a single U.S. casualty. According to the U.S. Defense Department, 4,477 American servicemembers have been killed in Iraq, representing 23 servicemember deaths in the last 18 weeks. (As posted, U.S. troops are the only foreign forces remaining in Iraq.)

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