Another 11 US soldiers have paid the ultimate price during the past week in Afghanistan. The world woke up to the news this mornining that 23 people were killed by a suicide bomber, when he blew himself up in a wedding hall in northern Afghanistan.
The total U.S. military death toll so far this year is 136 soldiers, while another 1041 have been wounded in action (WIA). Add to that the civilian casualty rate, which is much higher than the military's, the question arises "What exactly has been accomplished during 11 years of war?"
In May, on the anniversary of Bin Laden's death, President Obama had his "Mission Accomplished" moment, when he declared that the war in Afghanistan as we know it, is over. He secretly traveled to Afghanistan, met with troops, then went to Kabul to sign the Strategic Partnership Agreement with President Hamid Karzai.
In his prime time address to the American people from Kabul, President Obama said in part:
"Tonight, I can tell you that we are fulfilling that commitment. Thanks to our men and women in uniform, our civilian personnel, and our many coalition partners, we are meeting our goals. As a result, starting next month, we will be able to remove 10,000 of our troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year, and we will bring home a total of 33,000 troops by next summer, fully recovering the surge I announced at West Point. After this initial reduction, our troops will continue coming home at a steady pace as Afghan Security forces move into the lead. Our mission will change from combat to support. By 2014, this process of transition will be complete, and the Afghan people will be responsible for their own security. Read More.
Since then, a Strategic Partnership Agreement has been signed with Afghanistan and last week the international community pledged another $16 Billion through 2017, conditional on Kabul implementing measures to combat corruption and bolster democracy. Read More
Last week the US apologized for a drone attack into Pakistan and the NATO supply routes were reopened. While Pakistan, objects to drone attacks on its territory, they continued just one day later. The apology by the United States came with the restoration of all aid to Pakistan, which had been cut back earlier.
Meanwhile the U.S. election campaign is ramping up, with character assassinations by both campaigns. Romney is being attacked for his tenure at Bain capital and accused of outsourcing jobs, while the President's character is being attacked and the question raised whether or not he can be trusted. The campaign is turning out to be a demonstration of politics at its worst. Attack ads have worked in the past and neither side is backing down from using them. Sound bytes work to influence a pre-occupied public.
Mitt Romney gave a speech at the NCAAP this week and was booed when he said that he would repeal ObamaCare. Some on the left insinuated that he wanted to get booed to energize his base.
Meanwhile, there is specualtion on who Romney will chose as a running mate. The latest fad this week was Condaleeza Rice. The VP pick has become a game of speculation by the main stream media, but Romney is keeping the pick close to his heart. Needless to say until the announcement is made, journalists and bloggers will have ample material to speculate on.
On the international scene, the situation in Syria is deteriorating and the Assad regime is accused of killing 200 or more people in Hama. There are no signs of Assad giving up his post, although some high level officials have defected. The international community is at odds, with China and Russia not falling into line. The UN Security Council will debate another resolutions on Monday.
The same situation exists with a defiant the regime in Iran. The U.S. announced additonal sanctions on Iran this week. More Here
While the attacks during the election campaign continue on both sides, neither camp has said much about the turmoil in the Middle East or foreign policy as a whole. In contrast, Secretary of Statehas been on a whirlwind tour reminiscent of a farewell tour.
While the war in Afghanistan may be over as we know it, it is clear that it is far from over. Hopefully the lives lost in four years of conflict have not been in vain. 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