Kevin B. Zeese / Voters for Peace & Agence France-Presse & Reuters – 2010-09-24 00:38:30
2010 the Deadliest Year for
Troops in Afghanistan
Another sad milestone was reached in Afghanistan this week. Even though it is only September, 2010 is already the deadliest year for our troops. More troops have been killed so far this year than in any previous year of this war, the longest war in American history.
Nine US troops were killed in a helicopter crash in southern Afghanistan, making 2010 the deadliest year for international forces since the war began in 2001. The cause of the crash is unknown, but the incident brings to 529 the number of foreign troops killed this year, surpassing the previous record of 521 deaths in 2009.
The violence is likely to get worse for US troops as allies leave the country. Last week, the British transferred responsibility for one of the most violent Afghan districts to the US. One-third of all Britain’s casualties were in this district. Now the Marines will face that violence.
In addition, Afghan insurgents are expanding their fighting. Violence has risen sharply in recent months; the insurgency spread from its heartland in the south and east into once relatively calm areas in the north and west.
There has been an uptick in violence as Afghans went to the polls in what can only be described as another failed election. Only 4.3 million votes were cast, the lowest number of voters in any of the four elections held since the Taliban was ousted in 2001. In addition to the low turnout, the country’s Electoral Complaints Commission said it had received almost 3,000 formal complaints about the weekend voting.
When President Obama announced the massive increase in US troops in Afghanistan he also announced a review of the war scheduled to occur in December of this year. Since then, the importance of the review has been toned down, as has the likelihood of the US beginning to leave Afghanistan July 2011. Recent events indicate that a review is urgently needed and needs to be much broader than one conducted by pro-war Pentagon generals.
Please urge President Obama to emphasize the importance of the year-end review in light of the increasingly obvious failure of the Afghan War. Further, the generals should not dominate the process as the decision is more than a military one. More and more Americans are saying the war is a mistake and do not see any goals worth pursuing in Afghanistan. It is time for the president to listen to Americans and really examine whether the war should be continued.
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The Following Letter:
The news from Afghanistan is not good. There are record casualties of troops, failed elections, and corrupt leadership. More and more Americans are asking — why is the US in Afghanistan? In fact there are no worthy reasons to continue this war. The war undermines our economy and security.
When you announced the significant escalation of troops in Afghanistan you also promised a thorough review of the war policy scheduled for this December. In light of the failure of the war please recommit to the importance of this review. Further, the revelations about the aggressive support for the war by Pentagon generals make it essential that this review is not dominated by the military.
The Afghan War has implications beyond whether the war can be “won.” It has economic effects as every penny spent is borrowed. The deficit increases and the economy is undermined. The war is also undermining US national security; more and more people from the region see the brutality of the US military and its impact on the civilian population. Finally, the recent election demonstrates the US is failing in its effort to bring democracy to Afghanistan and failing to create a credible, rather than a corrupt, government.
It is urgent that the Afghanistan War be reconsidered so that US troops can be brought home rapidly. The United States must not sink further into this war quagmire.
Contact: President Barack Obama
Chopper Crash Makes 2010
Afghanistan’s Deadliest Year
(September 22, 2010) — Nine US troops have been killed in a helicopter crash in southern Afghanistan, making 2010 the deadliest year for international forces since the war began in 2001.
A US official said there was no sign that the chopper came under hostile fire from insurgents before going down in the Daychopan district of Zabul province.
In Kabul, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said the cause of the crash was under investigation.
It said another NATO soldier, an Afghan soldier and a US civilian were also injured.
The Taliban, who have been waging an increasingly deadly insurgency against foreign troops since the 2001 US-led invasion, immediately claimed responsibility.
Taliban spokesman Yousuf Ahmadi alleged the insurgents shot the helicopter down and killed “more than 10 foreign soldiers.” The militia routinely exaggerate its claims.
The incident brings to 529 the number of foreign troops killed this year, surpassing the previous record of 521 deaths in 2009.
Crash Kills 9 US Troops, 2010 Deadliest Year of Afghan War
Tim Gaynor and Hamid Shalizi / Reuters
KABUL (September 21, 2010) — A helicopter crash killed nine American troops from the NATO-led force in Afghanistan’s south on Tuesday, making 2010 the deadliest year of the war for foreign troops.
Violence is at its fiercest across Afghanistan since the Taliban was ousted by US-backed Afghan forces in 2001, with military and civilian casualties at record levels.
The crash came soon after one of the bloodiest days of the year on Saturday, when the Taliban launched scores of attacks across the country in a bid to disrupt a parliamentary election that has been tarnished by a growing number of fraud complaints.
The Afghan Independent Election Commission said counting had finished at all 5,897 polling stations that had opened, and a total of 4.3 million ballots were cast.
That would be the lowest number of voters out of all four elections held since the Taliban was ousted in 2001. The ballots now have to be taken to provincial centers before coming to the capital, Kabul, for a final tally.
The country’s Electoral Complaints Commission said it had received almost 3,000 formal complaints about the weekend poll and was considering extending Tuesday’s deadline for submitting grievances because thousands more were expected.
The election, a test of credibility for the Afghan government, was watched closely in Washington before President Barack Obama’s planned war strategy review in December, which is likely to examine the pace and scale of US troop withdrawals.
Obama’s Democrats also face difficult congressional elections in November amid sagging public support for the war.
Record troop casualties and electoral fraud in Afghanistan are likely to make their task harder.
The crash took place in the volatile southeast, the heartland of the Taliban. The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, declined to immediately give more details about the crash site or the nationalities of the dead.
A US defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters all the victims were Americans.
Mohammad Jan Rasulyar, a spokesman for the governor of southeastern Zabul province, said the aircraft came down there. US troops form the largest contingent in the area.
One ISAF service member, an Afghan soldier and a US civilian were injured and were taken to a hospital for treatment, ISAF said in a statement.
VIOLENCE UP SHARPLY
ISAF said there were no reports of enemy fire before the crash. A Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said insurgents shot down the aircraft, but the Islamists often make exaggerated or unsubstantiated claims about attacks on foreign troops.
The deaths took the toll in 2010 to at least 529, according to monitoring website iCasualties.org. Last year, the previous deadliest of the war, 521 foreign troops were killed.
At least 2,097 foreign troops have been killed since the war began, about 60 percent of them American.
Violence has risen sharply in recent months as the Taliban spread the insurgency from its heartland in the south and east into once relatively calm areas in the north and west.
Foreign troops have increased the reach and scale of operations to seek out the Taliban, especially in Helmand and Kandahar provinces in the south, and US commanders have warned of more tough times ahead.
There are now almost 150,000 foreign troops fighting a growing Taliban-led insurgency, supporting about 300,000 Afghan security forces. Obama ordered in an extra 30,000 troops late last year, the last units of which arrived this month.
Saturday’s election, in which widespread fraud and violence were reported, has underscored the challenges facing the United States and other NATO nations as they decide how long they will keep troops in Afghanistan.
The complaints have ranged from vote-stuffing and intimidation to repeat voting or a shortage of ballot papers. Both President Hamid Karzai and the most senior UN diplomat in Afghanistan, Staffan de Mistura, have said it is too early to describe the poll as a success.
Afghanistan’s corruption has long been a point of friction between Karzai and his Western allies. Transparency International ranks Afghanistan as one of the world’s most corrupt countries.
Washington believes graft weakens the central government and its ability to build up institutions like the Afghan security forces, which in turn determines when troops will leave. Obama has pledged to start drawing down U.S. forces from July 2011.
(Writing by Paul Tait; Additional reporting by Phil Stewart in Washington; Editing by Bryson Hull and Peter Cooney)
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