326 U.S. soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan so far this year, passing last year’s record of 317. 56 more troops were killed in August, while President Obama and General Petraeus continue to warn of higher casualty counts over the next several months.
Also in August, the United States spent an additional $43 billion as the final troops of Obama’s second surge made their way into the Af-Pak war theater. Since 2001, the U.S. has now spent over $329 billion on the nearly nine-year old war.
Finally, two recent polls provided critical insight into public sentiment regarding the rising costs and casualty figures associated with the war. According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll, 62% of respondents opposed the war, and 70% claimed that Afghan President Hamid Karzai was incapable of handling the crisis. And when asked by a 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll “Which one of the following would most signify victory to you in the war in Afghanistan?”, 35% stated that removing the Taliban and instituting a stable government would be the key benchmark, 30% responded that withdrawal of US troops would be sufficient, 20% claimed capturing Osama Bin Laden would be the main criterion, and 8% said removing the Taliban alone would mark victory.
If recent trends serve as any indication, the American people should expect higher death tolls, increased deficit spending, and vague declarations of “progress” from the Obama administration and Pentagon officials.
*Editor’s note: To track casualty counts, visit iCasualties.org