The Numbers Game
U.S., NATO deaths in Afghanistan pass Iraq toll
Analysts say the grim tally underscores the Taliban's growing strength
Couldn't the headline also have been written to highlight Iraq's growing reduction in violence? NYTimes by way of Bottomline Upfront:
Violence in all of Iraq is the lowest since March 2004. The two largest cities,Baghdad and Basra, are calmer than they have been for years. The third largest,Mosul, is in the midst of a major security operation. On Thursday, Iraqi forces swept unopposed through the southern city of Amara, which has been controlled by Shiite militias. There is a sense that Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s government has more political traction than any of its predecessors.
Consider the latest caricatures of Mr. Maliki put up on posters by the followers of Moktada al-Sadr, the fiery cleric who commands deep loyalty among poor Shiites. They show the prime minister’s face split in two — half his own, half Saddam Hussein’s. The comparison is, of course, intended as a searing criticism. But only three months ago the same Sadr City pamphleteers were lampooning Mr. Maliki as half-man, half-parrot, merely echoing the words of his more powerful Shiite and American backers. It is a notable swing from mocking an opponent perceived to be weak to denouncing one feared to be strong.
When latenight comedians start lampooning the prime minister as well, then we'll know Iraq's made it.
Continuing with the AP report:
Numbers reflect rising violence
Defense Secretary Robert Gates has noted that more international troops died in Afghanistan than in Iraq in May, the first time that had happened. While that trend — now two months old — is in part due to falling violence in Iraq, it also reflects rising violence in Afghanistan.
At least 45 international troops — including at least 27 U.S. forces and 13 British — died in Afghanistan in June, the deadliest month since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion to oust the Taliban, according to an Associated Press count.
"Including around 440 militants" according to the AP, toward the end of the article.
In Iraq, at least 31 international soldiers died in June: 29 U.S. troops and one each from the former Soviet republics of Georgia and Azerbaijan. There are 144,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and 4,000 British forces in additional to small contingents from several other nations.
The 40-nation international coalition is much broader in Afghanistan, where only about half of the 65,000 international troops are American.
That record number of international troops means that more soldiers are exposed to danger than ever before. But Taliban attacks are becoming increasingly complex, and in June, increasingly deadly.
Something else of interest coming also from the New York Times, again by way of Bottomline Upfront, where they question Iraqi teenagers:
“If you could see one man put on trial for his crimes, who would it be: George W. Bush or Osama bin Laden?”
Too bad for the NYT, but the Iraqi teens didn’t hesitate to answer “Osama bin Laden”.