“We are leaving in 2014, period, and in the process, we’re going to be saving over the next 10 years another $800 billion. We’ve been in this war for over a decade. The primary objective is almost completed. Now all we’re doing is putting the Kabul government in a position to be able to maintain their own security. It’s their responsibility, not America’s.”
“Marc Grossman, the State Department’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan … said Tuesday that the point of the upcoming negotiations is to agree on an extension of the U.S. troop presence well past 2014, for the purposes of conducting counterterrorism operations and training and advising the Afghan security forces.”
Part deux of Joe Biden’s false promises (or lies if you prefer the term).
“We’re going to be totally out of [Afghanistan], come hell or high water, by 2014.”
- Joe Biden, December 18, 2011
“American and allied military planners are drawing up the broad outlines of a force that would remain in Afghanistan following the handover to Afghan security after 2014, including a small counterterrorism force…”
- New York Times, November 25, 2012
That’s the number of American soldiers who have died in Afghanistan since the inception of the war. The New York Times has an excellent infographic that breaks down the numbers further by branch, province, age, and so forth.
Most telling, in my view, is the graph which demonstrates that the most violent years come after 2008, when we of course saw a policy shift from the Obama administration away from Iraq and focused on “winning” the war in the Afghanistan. As you can see from the graph, the 2009 troop surge was consonant with the heaviest period of American casualties in the history of our involvement in Afghanistan:
More at the link.
And of course with the surge came more civilian casualties. The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan estimates 2,412 deaths in 2009 (14% increase from 2008), 2,777 deaths in 2010 (15% increase from 2009) and another 1,462 in just the first 6 months of 2011 (a 15% increase from the same period in 2010). The Afghanistan Rights Monitor also estimates that over 100,00 civilians have been forced to flee their homes.
Two U.S. troops have been shot to death and four more wounded by an Afghan solider who turned his gun on his allies in apparent anger over the burning of Qurans at a U.S. military base in Afghanistan, an Afghan official tells CBS News.
A statement from the International Security Assistance Force - Afghanistan, the international coalition in the country, confirmed that two troops were killed in Eastern Afghanistan on Thursday by “an individual wearing an Afghan National Army uniform.”
Protesters in Kabul shouted, “Death to America!” and threw stones at Camp Phoenix, the main US base in the city.
Riot police used water cannon to disperse protesters, some of whom were blocking the road leading to Jalalabad, one of the main trade routes into the capital.
Witnesses said security guards were firing into the air. There were also reports of people chanting pro-Taliban slogans.
One protester in Kabul, 18-year-old Ajmal, told Reuters: “When the Americans insult us to this degree, we will join the insurgents.”
In case you’re wondering how these protesters expect Korans to be disposed of, here is the proper ritual:
“If one decides to get rid of religious literature, the right thing would be to bury them by wrapping them in something pure first, in a place where people would not walk very rarely. Similarly, it would be permitted to tie the books and papers with something heavy and cast them into a flowing river. You may also burn [texts other than the Koran], but in this case, only after erasing the names of Allah, his Angels and his Messengers (peace and blessings be upon them all). As far the old and unusable Qur’ans are concerned, it is not permitted to burn them unless there is no other way to dispose them.” Muslim scholar Allamah Haskafi
“We must never allow our differences to harden into divisions.
It may be tempting to think it doesn’t matter what happens to a villager in Afghanistan or a child in Africa, but the temptation of isolation is deadly wrong.”
- George W. Bush
Truer words are rarely spoken. I’d like to point out that with this statement, the former President seems far more moderate than any Republican currently running, with the lone exception of Jon Huntsman.
When deciding not to release the bin Laden death photos, Obama argued that the photos could incite violence and be used for propaganda purposes. This argument is almost laughable. We risk inciting violence from Islamic extremists nearly every day. We risked it when we killed bin Laden. We risked it when we invaded Afghanistan and Iraq. We risk it every time we affirm our support for Israel. One wonders, when could our foreign policy decisions not potentially incite violence and hatred?
Furthermore, it seems implausible that a single photo would cause an attack. Killing bin Laden is OK but releasing his photo would push his supporters over the edge? Certainly the photo could, and probably would, be used for propaganda purposes. But so what? Are we denying ourselves access to evidence and information due to other people’s nefarious intentions? Since when has misuse of information justified withholding information?
What concerns me most is that the President and his inner circle are deciding what we can and cannot look at. We all have the right to view films and photographs of bodies on Omaha Beach or concentration camp victims. At the Holocaust Museum in D.C., one can see the dismembered victims of Nazi medical experiments.
Is it necessary to see these kinds of images? I would argue “yes.” They function both as evidence and as powerful reminders of our history. But my opinion, just like Obama’s or anyone else’s, is meaningless. Americans should not be treated like children incapable of seeing gory images or photographic evidence. The decision to view the bin Laden death photos is simply not the President’s to make. It is our choice and ours alone. An administration that honored its commitment to transparency and didn’t infantilize its citizens would release the photos.