Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day

I'll mostly be over at Greg's place today, but wanted to pop in at least once to wish everyone a nice Memorial Day.

I'll contribute one item, really a follow-up to the weekend questions. There was one new coalition death in Afghanistan recorded yesterday. It was the first one in ten days -- ending a streak which had dramatically improved the pace of May casualties after a very disappointing first half of the month. The death yesterday put this month's coalition total up to 25. That's the highest this year (and in fact the highest since September), but that's to be expected given the seasonal nature of the war in Afghanistan. More promising is that May will wind up down from the 45 coalition deaths last year. There have been 67 coalition fatalities to date in 2013; last year, there were 183 through the end of May. There's still a plausible chance that coalition deaths will wind up under 200 for 2013.

There are (at least) two obvious interpretations of Barack Obama's policy with respect to all of this. The negative one is to question whether any of these deaths are in the service of anything more than a graceful exit; given that Obama continues to define the mission down, John Kerry's famous question would seem to apply here just as much as it applied to Iraq.

The positive interpretation would be that Obama has shown a solid pattern of actually following up on his stated plans to withdraw, even if it opens him up to criticism for "retreating" or for losing a war which (supposedly) was about to be decisively won. That interpretation would also give Obama credit for how difficult it is to turn the boat around, and stress that at least for now it appears that the Obama Administration will have successfully ended two wars and started no new ones. Remember, a lot of people in 2008-2009 believed that the US would find a way to keep a major troop presence in Iraq; that didn't happen.

(Yes, Libya, and yes, drone wars...but even there Obama displays an impressive ability to avoid escalations and to move to end things).

Is one of these interpretations correct? I don't know; perhaps they both are.


  1. Good post, and you may well be right that both interpretations are (at least partly) correct. To my mind the positive interpretation carries more weight, especially given the power of what Eisenhower termed the military-industrial complex, and of the dominant foreign/military policy groupthink in Washington.

    For an anti-war black Kenyan Muslim socialist to successfully wind down two wars and avoid getting entangled in any new ones in those conditions is, from my perspective, an impressive accomplishment.

  2. You're positive interpretation would be my answer to yesterday's question for Liberals.

  3. And here's hoping that you've managed to keep your feet dry despite San Antonio's flooding.

  4. Remember, a lot of people in 2008-2009 believed that the US would find a way to keep a major troop presence in Iraq; that didn't happen.

    (Yes, Libya,....

    Is there still oil in Iraq? Then we still have troops there. We have to. It just stands to reason. Like the thousands of US troops still stationed in Libya, after the invasion last year, again because of the oil. They'll be there till the last drop is pumped.

    The government is just lying to us.

    It's always about the oil. And US imperialism never changes.

    Look, I learned certain ways of looking at what drives American foreign policy thirty, forty years ago, and I just don't have the time, or the energy, to learn any new ones just now.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Who links to my website?