‘Dire’ Straits in Afghanistan

November 8, 2008

afghan cemetary

A woman moves through a graveyard near Kabul in December 2001. In the first seven months of this year, at least 540 Afghan civilians were killed in fighting related to the armed conflict, and add more from recent incidents just this past week. (Illustration found here).

According to CNN yesterday, the situation in Afghanistan appears to be getting worse by the hour.
Violence in the last five years is up a staggering 543 percent, and the poppy trade: up 100 percent since 2003.

  • The review, under way since September 20 and led by Lt. Gen. Douglas E. Lute, the senior National Security Council official responsible for Afghanistan and Iraq, has yet to reach any definitive conclusions.
    But according to one of the participants in the review there was no disagreement among the 24 government agencies that participated that Afghanistan is in a “dire situation.”

    The review also is likely to conclude that the United States does not have sufficient forces for an Iraq-style “surge” in Afghanistan.
    While President-elect Barack Obama has talked about the necessity of sending a substantial force to Afghanistan, the review’s initial assessment suggests, according to the official, that the largest number of additional forces that could be mustered there in the next few months is several thousand.
    According to a U.S. official familiar with troop deployments, even if Obama pulled substantial numbers of American soldiers out of Iraq the day he comes into office on January 20, 2009, and redeployed them immediately to Afghanistan, they wouldn’t arrive there until June or July 2009 because of the complicated logistics of redeploying.

And thus would miss the Taliban’s expected spring offensive and the violence to surround national elections to be held in August.

Last September, Time magazine even reported the slaughter to Afghan civilians is soaring:

  • Whatever the tally, officials both inside and outside the U.S. military say attacks that kill civilians occur with distressing regularity; they generate headlines only when dozens die.
    Afghans vividly recall the July 2002 bombing of a wedding party — celebratory gunfire led to retaliation by an AC-130 — that killed up to 48 civilians and wounded 117 in Oruzgan province; many were women and children.
    This past July, 47 people were killed and nine wounded on their way to a wedding in eastern Afghanistan. Among the dead were 39 women and children, including the bride-to-be, Afghan authorities said.

The “dire” situation is more deadly for bystanders.

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