As Americans celebrated Thanksgiving on Thursday and pursued the madness of Black Friday yesterday, with shootings and pepper spraying, young American men and women in Afghanistan continued to put their life on the line in the service of their nation. The Department of Defense (DoD) reports that another five Americans paid the ultimate price. The DoD report shows no change in those wounded in action. That number should be taken with a grain of salt and may not have been updated due to the Thanksgiving long weekend.
Earlier this week, the CNN National Security Debate, moderated by Wolf Blitzer, had GOP candidates face off on issues of national concern. While little time was devoted to Afghanistan as a whole, the candidates touched the issue of Pakistan. Funding of Pakistan was an issue. Michelle Bachmann says U.S. funding for Pakistan must continue because of the country’s nuclear arsenal, while Rick Perry said he would not send a penny. Needless to say, the issue is much more complicated than the time allowed to get into depth at these debates.
This morning Pakistan is alleging that a NATO helicopter attacked a military installation in Pakistan, yesterday, killing 25 military personnel.
Pakistan on Saturday accused NATO helicopters of firing on two army checkpoints in the northwest and killing 25 soldiers, then retaliated by closing a key border crossing used by the coalition to supply its troops in neighboring Afghanistan.
The incident Friday night was a major blow to already strained relations between Islamabad and U.S.-led forces fighting in Afghanistan. It will add to perceptions in Pakistan that the American presence in the region is malevolent, and to resentment toward the weak government in Islamabad for co-operating with Washington. Washington Post
Meanwhile Iraq continues a very dangerous place and at least 15 people were killed and more than 20 wounded on Saturday in a bomb attack. The attack comes amidst the withdrawal of U.S. troops, who are scheduled to be home by Christmas. Approximately 18,000 troops remain in Iraq, responsible for the dismantling of U.S. installations and shipping equipment back to the States or to relocate it to Afghanistan.
Bomb attacks in central Iraq killed at least 15 people and wounded more than 20 on Saturday, security officials and a doctor said.
The latest bombings came two days after triple blasts killed 19 people in the southern port city of Basra.
In the first attack, bombs on each side of the main road from Abu Ghraib, west of Baghdad, to Fallujah hit a truck carrying construction workers, First Lieutenant Omar Zawbai of the Abu Ghraib police told AFP.
Dr Omar Delli of Fallujah Hospital said “the hospital received seven bodies and seven wounded,” two of whom later died.
An interior ministry official put the casualty toll at eight dead and 13 wounded from the Abu Ghraib attack. AFP
The Assad regime has missed a deadline to stop the violence against its people. The next move is up to the Arab League and Turkey. There has been speculation that everything is on the table to deal with Syria. It is not likely though that NATO would involve itself in another Libya type operation. Russia and China would not tolerate it.
The so called “reset button” with Russia apparently malfunctioned. Russia warned this week, if the United States continues with its missile defense program, that it would have Russian missiles facing it.
Recent events seem to indicate that the United States’ position in the world is becoming irrelevant. The Obama Administration seems to have made one fumble after the other. The Middle East is in disarray, with the Arab Spring turning into an Arab Winter of violence. Iran, despite sanctions continues its pursuit for a nuclear weapon. Syria is on the brink of civil war and the last chapter on Libya has yet to be written.
The European Debt Crisis is threatening to throw the global economy into disarray. Germany and France are at odds with each other on how to resolve the increasingly troubling problem.
With all the tension in the world, the Congressional Super Committee failed in its attempt to find a compromise to deal with spending. Failure to reach a deal will trigger automatic cuts to both the defense budget and medicare. While the President and Democrats are quick to blame Republicans for the disarray, it is the Democrats that won’t budge on cutting entitlement programs. The President has been missing in action and has not lead. This has caused senior Democrats to ask the President not to run for re-election. Can you blame them? The President, who promised to unite the country has done exactly the opposite and those calling for him to step down also assert, even if Obama was re-elected, he would be unable to govern.
Taking politics aside, young men and women continue to serve around the world selflessly. They are oblivious of politics in Washington and just want your support. Take a moment this Thanksgiving weekend and remember those that have lost their lives and the heroes that won’t be sitting down for Thanksgiving dinner. Lest We Forget.
Below are this week’s updated DoD casualty figures:
Op Enduring Freedom Total Deaths KIA Non Hostile WIA
Afghanistan Only 1727 1446 281 14837
Other Locations 103 12 91
DoD Civ Casualties 3 1 2
Worldwide Total 1833 1459 374 14837
Accumulated 2011 Casualties
KIA Non Combat Deaths WIA
348 87 4721