Republican party leaders like Senator John McCain and President Bush are proclaiming the drop in violence in Iraq after five years of war, but even as those figures decline, there has been a steady rise in the number of dead and wounded American soldiers fighting in Afghanistan. During the past week, seven Marines attacked to the 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, died in combat. They were either killed while on military operations against the Taliban or by roadside bombs. The Marines are doing an outstanding job in Helmand province which surely raises questions as to why they were not sent there in the fall of 2001 when the Taliban were on the run and Osama bin Laden was fleeing for his life.
President Bush wants to take “credit” for the drop in Iraq casualties, but, of course, he forgets that Chief of Staff Shinseki told him in 2003 the American armed forces lacked sufficient numbers to control Iraq. For his bluntness, the general was shown an early retirement. The rise in Afghanistan casualties is a result of incompetent policies of the past and the lack of any long-term goals in the present. We will witness in the coming months more Americans dying in Afghanistan. Of course, by then Bush would have left the presidency and will go around the country blaming high Afghan casualty rates on whoever is the current president.