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Tuesday, February 23, 2010


"U.S. Afghan death toll hits 1,000"?

So read today's headlines, bizarrely relying on a privately maintained website instead of anything official. The Pentagon is pushing back, claiming that "It's significantly less than 1,000 in Afghanistan."

Well, let's see, shall we? iCasualties says that 930 Americans have died "in and around Afghanistan," with the remaining 75 fatalities of "Operation Enduring Freedom" in "Guantanamo Bay (Cuba), Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Jordan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Philippines, Seychelles, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkey, and Yemen." OK, we can argue if 930 is "significantly less" than 1000; personally I'd say when it comes to counting dead people, the two numbers are more or less indistinguishable.

But the real nonsense, of course, is the jingoism inherent in talking about only Americans. After all, "OEF" is a "NATO" operation (so we're told), not an American operation. And not 1000, but 1661 coalition troops have died in that operation, which by any definition is "significant more" than 1000. 264 Britons have died, 130 Canadians, etc. I'm not even going to get into Afghan resistance fighters defending their country against a foreign invasion, or even into Afghan civilians, but since we're told that we're "partners" to the Afghans, surely we should add in Afghan police and army who are also part of the "coalition" and who have been killed. I'm afraid I can't do that, though, because that number is completely unavailable.

Have 1000 Americans died "in Afghanistan"? No. Have the fatalities of the occupying force and their Afghan allies (who pretty much qualify as mercenaries since they're really soldiers working for a foreign command, the classic definition of mercenary) significantly exceeded 1000? Without any question, and for quite some time.

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