The war in Afghanistan is in its tenth year and the last three years have been the bloodiest since the war began. According to icasualties.org, the number of casualties doubled from 2008 to 2009 from 155 U.S. deaths in 2008 to 319 in 2009. 2010 was by far the bloodiest year with 499 US casualties, while 2011 comes in as a close second.
Meanwhile during the past week North Korea has been mourning “Dear Leader” Kim Jong Il and his funeral took place after more than a week of mourning. His son Kim Jong Un, who is 20 something, appears to have consolidated power and gave notice yesterday that there would be no change in North Korea and has issued a threat to South Korea.
The stakes have also been raised by Iran, which is currently conducting a naval exercise in the Strait of Hormuz. The Iranian regime has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, stating that it would be as easy as drinking a glass of water. The US Navy has issued a statement, which states that the closure of the Strait, which carries much of the world’s oil, would not be tolerated.
As the year comes to an end, the U.S. is once again within $100 Billion of the debt ceiling and the Administration will be looking for an increase of another $1.2 Trillion. Obama has delayed the request for now, permitting Congress to mull over the increase. Either way it will happen, bringing the total U.S. debt to $16 Trillion by election day.
This week two arms deals were announced. 84 F15 Fighter jets will be sold to Saudi Arabia in an arms deal worth $30 Billion. Another Arms Deal with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) worth $3.48 Billion, involving as many as 96 missiles, has been reached.
While the announcement of the deal came yesterday, at a time of increased tension with Iran, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said in a statement that the deal was inked on December 25 when the US and UAE signed a Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LOA) for a Foreign Military Sales-configured Terminal High Altitude Area Defence System, valued at approximately USD 3.48 billion. Zeenews.com
The GOP primaries are now coming down to crunch time with the Iowa caucauses on the agenda for Tuesday. While it appears that Mitt Romney and Ron Paul lead the way, there could be some surprises. Rick Santorum appears to have surged at the right time. Look for some surprises.
As the year comes to a close, 2012 promises to be a politically charged year, with probably one of the dirtiest campaigns ever. Obama will find it difficulty to run on his dismal economic record and will rely largely on demonizing his opposition and using the divide and conquer principle with class warfare. Hopefully the electorate won’t be fooled again. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. With the deficit approached 97% of GDP, something has to give.
Meanwhile U.S. troops are still paying the ultimate price in Afghanistan. NATO is preparing to draw down a good portion of the total troop strength as it hands over responsibility to Afghan Security Forces. At the end of the year 1851 U.S. troops have died in Afghanistan and more than 15,000 have been wounded. Coalition Forces have lost close to 1000 soldiers, with 394 from the UK and 158 from Canada. Lest We Forget.
Below are this week’s updated DoD casualty figures:
Op Enduring Freedom Total Deaths KIA Non Hostile WIA
Afghanistan Only 1744 1464 280 15157
Other Locations 104 12 92
DoD Civ Casualties 3 1 2
Worldwide Total 1851 1477 374 15157
Accumulated 2011 Casualties:
KIA Non Combat Deaths WIA
365 93 5071