Friday, June 22, 2007

NATO strike kills 25 civilians

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- Suspected Taliban militants attacked southern Afghanistan police posts, triggering clashes and NATO airstrikes that left 25 civilians and 20 militants dead, a senior police officer said Friday.

The militants attacked police and used civilian houses for cover in Helmand province's Gereshk district late Thursday, said provincial Police Chief Mohammad Hussein Andiwal.

NATO responded by calling in airstrikes that killed 20 suspected militants -- but also 25 civilians, including nine women, three babies and the mullah of a local mosque, Andiwal said.

Al Jazeera provides a bit more in-depth coverage:

In the afternoon, de Hoop Scheffer privately met Stephen Harper, the Canadian prime minister, in Ottawa, as well as Peter MacKay, the foreign affairs minister and Gordon O'Connor, the defence minister.

Canada has deployed 2,500 troops in southern Afghanistan, fighting the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

Harper's minority Conservative government has refused to say if it is considering an extension, but managed to scuttle an opposition motion in the House of Commons in April demanding a fixed withdrawal date.

De Hoop Scheffer's request to extend the mission comes one day after three Canadian soldiers died in a roadside blast in the Kandahar region.

Ninety-one foreign soldiers have now died in Afghanistan this year, most of them in combat and about half of them from the US which has the most soldiers in the international operation in Afghanistan.

Wednesday's attack brought Canada's death toll in Afghanistan since 2002 to 60. A senior Canadian diplomat was also killed in an attack.

Things appear to be heating up on both fronts, and this whole two-front war we've been in may be coming to a head. Unless things improve significantly by next year, I don't see these wars dragging on too much longer.

What? Did I just say that? Yeah, I did. I can't see how any President, regardless of party affiliation, can possibly let this continue. It has been a drain on President Bush's legacy, and I know full well that whomever gets elected will want to get re-elected. Regardless of what they think now, once they're in the hot seat, presiding over a war that likely 80% or more of the American public will oppose out-right by the time they get in, they'll want to get this heat off of their backs, no matter what it takes.

The question is: how long will it take said President to realize that it's not salvageable and that we need to cut our losses? Lives depend on the answer to that question.

Maybe I'll feel differently later, but the fact that this is all a complete cluster-fuck has become such a consensus with friggin' everybody that the politicians will have to notice at some point.

Here's hoping.

Discussion at BCF:

Throgg says:
So we'll mark you down for 2 Freidman Units.

All the prominent GOP candidates are pro-war so I don't see how it'll help them to pull out before the election. That would just pull the rug out from under them and leave them scrambling to come up with post war plans on short notice. If anything, Smirk has to stay for thier sake if nothing else. The GOP is locked into this and there's no way out for them before election time.

After that they can do whatever they have to. It won't matter anymore, and if it stands everything they've been saying on it's head so what, it'll be what the people want and they'll be forgiven.

Of course the war itself will make it that much harder for any of them to get elected, but that's the box they've put themselves in.
I clarify my point:
I didn't intend to imply that this administration would pull the plug on it, just that any future administration will have little choice but to withdraw completely within the first two years of their administration. Also, unless "the surge" is the smashing success that none of us expects it to be, Congress is going to incrementally make it more difficult for the President to continue escalating matters. Even a GOP candidate is going to want an "out".

Bush is "staying the course" right now, but I think his intention is to get the oil law passed before he leaves office. That way his potential GOP successor can declare victory and withdraw, and his potential Democratic successor can't screw up his plans for the Big Oil Grab. Naturally, not all of them would screw it up for him, but it's a long primary season and anything can happen.

We're not going to have the strategic military location that this administration wanted, but we can still maintain control of the oil flow. That will constitute victory in of itself.

If a Democrat is elected, I'm sure Bush will do anything he can to piss in the punch bowl before he leaves. Attack Iran, something like that. Legislation putting a leash on him will be necessary to prevent that, but we'll need some significant Republican support in order to pull it off. That or an impeachment if he tries it. Maybe legislation that will give commanders enough wiggle room to refuse the order? They'll know that he's on his way out and that they'll will have to answer to his Democratic successor soon enough. That's our only hope, I think.

But again, maybe I'll feel differently tomorrow.
To add: I don't find any scenario by which the Democrats restrain Bush to be terribly likely, but it's the only way I can envision us not starting something with Iran. Attacking Iran at this point in the game would be stupid, but when has that every stopped these guys?

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