Friday, August 31, 2012


Romney is human.
This is the best PR can come up with?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

By the numbers

I've been reading Dexter Filkins piece in a recent New Yorker about future prospects for Afghanistan.  In sum: they're grim.

As they are in Iraq.

Which made me think that for everyone who was sent to conduct those wars/occupations/ counterinsurgencies/nation-building exercises -- regardless of how right or wrong they believe their actions to be -- the futility of both campaigns must be overwhelming.

In Iraq, after 7½ years and at a cost to the U.S. of at least $800 billion, 4486 American troops died and 32,223 were wounded; well over 50,152 Iraqi citizens have been killed (we didn't start keeping count until 2005), and about 4.6 million were displaced, either internally or as refugees. Today, the Iraqi government is riven, the infrastructure is shaky, and violence continues, with 977 civilians killed in sectarian clashes in 2011 alone. (Imagine if that many Americans were killed in “domestic terrorism” incidents.)  The only one of our ever-shifting goals that we accomplished there was to depose Saddam Hussein.
U.S. forces are scheduled to leave Afghanistan after 13 years, and as I write this, at a cost of about $554 billion dollars, 2075 U.S. soldiers have died,15,322 have been wounded, 50,152 Afghan civilians have been killed (again, since 2005), and still, the Taliban, along with a long list of war lords, hold sway in much of the country, the government is head-swivelingly corrupt, and the only purported goal we've accomplished has been to kill Osama bin Laden, who neither came from Afghanistan, nor was killed there. 

Is the world better off without the two despots?  Probably.  Were there better, less costly ways to get rid of them? Very likely.  Did the United States corrupt itself in the process?  Undoubtedly.

It's quite an equation.