Tuesday :: Aug 25, 2009

2009 Is Now Deadliest Year For U.S./Allies In Afghanistan

by Turkana

It's official. This is now the deadliest year for U.S. and allied troops in Afghanistan. The BBC:

Four US soldiers have been killed by a bomb in southern Afghanistan, a Nato spokesman has said.

Brig Gen Eric Tremblay said they were struck "while patrolling in one of the most violent areas of Afghanistan", but did not give an exact location.

The deaths bring the number of foreign forces killed in Afghanistan in 2009 to 295, according to icasualties.org, which compiles official data.

The previous deadliest year was 2008, when 294 military personnel died.

Got that? The two deadliest years were last year and this year. Seven and eight years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Which would suggest that things are getting worse, not better. As I wrote on Sunday: the election turmoil wouldn't be that big a deal if it didn't come at a time when Afghan President Hamid Karzai is increasingly at odds with the Obama Administration, if July hadn't seen a record number of U.S. and allied military deaths, and if the Taliban weren't resurgent. In other words, nothing is getting better, in Afghanistan. Other than record after record opium harvest. And as the New York Times reported, Sunday:

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said on Sunday that conditions in Afghanistan were “deteriorating,” even as Afghans awaited results of their presidential election last week and as the new American commander in the region worked to complete a major progress assessment and perhaps to propose a further troop increase.

“I think it is serious and it is deteriorating,” Adm. Mike Mullen said on CNN’s “State of the Union,” “and I’ve said that over the past couple of years, that the Taliban insurgency has gotten better, more sophisticated, in their tactics.” Top American commanders have been making similar grim pronouncements for months, but Admiral Mullen’s remark came amid the election, the strategy review by General Stanley McChrystal and a steady decline in American public support for the war. Recent polls show those opposing the war now slightly outnumber those favoring it.

Admiral Mullen, who as chairman is the nation’s highest-ranking military officer, said that General McChrystal was still completing his review and had not yet requested additional troops on top of the 17,000 decided on earlier by President Obama. “His guidance from me and from the secretary of defense was to assess where you are and tell us what you need, and we’ll get to that point,” the admiral said.

Not yet requested. More troops. On top of the 17,000 more troops already sent over there, this year. Dying at a record pace. Four more. And the Pentagon may be asking for more? For what, exactly? What does victory look like? What is our goal? Can a war that Bush lost, years ago, suddenly now be won by sending more troops?

In Salon, yesterday, Juan Cole wrote:

I think support for the Afghanistan war depends on the administration effectively tying it to concerns about Americans' safety and security. And since that argument is so hard to make convincingly, I can't see how public support for the war is going to come back. With dozens of U.S. troops killed in July, moreover, people are hearing more bad news than good.

What I think is true is that a poorly executed Afghanistan policy could turn Obama into a one-term president. It is too early to judge exactly what Obama's policy will be in Afghanistan, but it should become clear within a few months. So far, Obama has not made the case and hasn't explained what the end game is.

But the Pentagon is considering asking for more troops. Will someone please tell me how this ends?

Turkana :: 9:05 AM :: Comments (32) :: Digg It!