Five more US soldiers have paid the ultimate price in Afghanistan, bringing the total so far this year to 343, while another 44 were wounded in action. These figures don’t include the number of those affected by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The death toll in Iraq is up to 4,486, of which 65 have been killed since combat operations in Iraq ceased.
Iran keeps flexing its nuclear muscle, another issue working its way through the UN Security council, with no resolution in sight.
President Obama is due to wrap up his nine day Asian trip, where he announced and agreement with Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard to deploy 250 US Marines, a contingent that will eventually be increased to 2,500. The closer military cooperation with Australia and US troop deployment is to send a message that the US wants to have a larger influence in the regions. China is not thrilled with the move. There was a short notice meeting yesterday between Obama and the Chinese Premier. No print media was permitted and no details of their discussion have been announced.
Meanwhile back in North America, mayors of municipalities are struggling with ending the occupation by the “Occupy Movement”, in many cases seeking court injunctions to remove them. This drama is still playing out in communities all over the continent.
Meanwhile the European debt crisis continues. Both Greece and Italy have their backs against the wall in an attempt to manage their debts. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and UK Prime Minister Cameron are at odds on how to deal with the problem. Germany, which is the economic engine of Europe, has been urged by Japan to solve the problem. Merkel is running into increased pressure by Germans, who are tired of bailing out failed nations, who won’t swallow he austerity pill.
The United States passed the $15 Trillion debt threshold and the Super Committee is no closer to a solution. Europe has some valuable lessons for the US Congress. The bottom line is, if the Super Committee does not make the hard decisions now to take care of the overwhelming debt, eventually the austerity measures required, will be punitive in nature. The longer the Obama Administration and Congress drag their feet, the more difficult it will be to solve the problem.
SCOTUS has agreed to take up the case to decide whether or not mandated health care is constitutional. The decision is believed to be announced in mid 2012, in the middle of the 2012 election campaign.
The GOP Presidential field is not much closer to selecting a nominee to run against Obama, while front runners keep changing, only Mitt Romney continues to have the same overall support. Bachmann, Perry and Cain have taken turns of challenging Romney but not prevailed. The flavour of the week, this week is Newt Gingrich. Attacks against his character have already been launched by the main stream media and the DNC. While Newt is probably prepared for the attack, time will tell if he can withstand them. Next Tuesday’s CNN GOP Presidential Debate in Washington, D.C should provide some answers. Politisite’s James George will be attending the debate.
With all the drama in Washington, the war in Afghanistan often takes a back seat to political talking points. Afghanistan remains a dangerous place for US and NATO troops. The UK this week has also lost two soldiers. With the 2014 deadline for the withdrawal of NATO troops closing rapidly, the priority has shifted to training Afghan Security Forces to assume Afghanistan’s security.
A week after Veteran’s Day, take a moment and remember the young soldiers that continue to do an excellent job in Afghanistan and Iraq. While all the attention has been on Congress and the Occupy Wall Street movement, people and soldiers are still dieing. Lest we forget.
Below are this week’s updated DoD casualty figures:
Op Enduring Freedom Total Deaths KIA Non Hostile WIA
Afghanistan Only 1722 1441 281 14837
Other Locations 103 12 91
DoD Civ Casualties 3 1 2
Worldwide Total 1828 1454 374 14837
Accumulated 2011 Casualties
KIA Non Combat Deaths WIA
343 87 4721