Another three U.S. soldiers have paid the ultimate price in Afghanistan this week. While this is far less than the normal ten per week during previous weeks this year, it is still three too many. The United Kingdom and Australia have also lost at least four soldiers this week. Another NATO soldier was killed today. The nationality has not been released.
Interestingly enough, while the U.S. election campaign is in full swing and the election approximately 120 days away, the war in Afghanistan is getting very little mention other than the occasional comment that the troops are coming home. They may be coming home, but there will still be troops in combat until the middle of next year and perhaps much longer. The United States has committed support to Afghanistan for at least another decade beyond 2014.
While young Americans and other NATO troops continue to put their life on the line, the U.S. election has reached a stage where spin machines manipulate the data in order to influence voters. This past week, after the passage of the Affordable Health Act, there was the discussion on whether or not the mandate was a tax or a penalty. Really? Does it matter? Either way you pay. The discussion should be around what is contained in the act and how it affects Americans. Obviously, the Obama campaign should emhasize how it improves lives, while the other side should point out why it negatively affects the economy. Innuendo may work, but it certainly is not useful.
Syria and Iran continue to be serious foreign policy issues. Iran tested long range missiles this week and threatened to attack Israel and U.S. military bases in the Middle East should an attempt be made to attack its nuclear facilities. World leaders met in Paris in the "Friends of Syria" summit, but no real action was taken. It was again more talk, with an impotent international community standing by as people in Syria get slaughtered.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Statement:
Today the international community sent a clear and unified message: The violence in Syria must stop, a democratic transition must start, and Assad must go. Last week in Geneva, all five permanent members of the UN Security Council and other key players agreed to Kofi Annan’s plan that Assad transfer full executive authority to a transitional governing body that is broadly inclusive and chosen by mutual consent, which means the opposition has a veto on its membership. Here in Paris, more than one hundred nations and organizations endorsed that plan and dispelled any doubt about Assad’s role in a transition. He has none. Full Statement
Amidst the upheaval in the international community, with Russia and China basically giving Syria's President Assad a free ride, the jobs figures were released yesterday. Needless to say they were not flattering and the unemployment rate remained at 8.2%.
What is missed in the election campaign is real empathy for main stream America. Americans are interested in bread and butter issues and not spin. Sexual orientation, gay marriage, abortion and contraception may all be important issues, but first and foremost it is the American economy.
In a country that considers itself a world leader, there should also be much more discussion on foreign policy, to include a vision on the way ahead in Afghanistan once combat ends.
While the death toll in Afghanistan is down this week, there are still young Americans and NATO soldiers killed. Lest We Forget.
Roll of Casualties
Below are this week’s updated DoD casualty figures:
Op Enduring Freedom Total Deaths KIA Non Hostile WIA
DoD Civ Casualties--------------3-------- --1-----------2
Accumulated 2012 Casualties:
KIA Non Combat Deaths WIA