David Coates

Chapter 9: May 2010 Update

The war in Afghanistan has largely vanished from public view in 2010. The death toll among US service personnel crossed the 1000 mark in late February, but went largely unreported. The rising cost in US lives reflected the new military push against the Taliban in Helmund province. US casualties in Iraq have now leveled out, at just under 4,500 since 2003. An increasing number of the soldiers killed in Afghanistan were on their second or third tour of duty in the Middle East, survivors of military operations in Iraq at the height of the insurgency there. That was true of 73 US casualties in Afghanistan between December 2009 and February 2010 (data in The Washington Post, February 24, 2010). Continuing dissatisfaction with the levels of corruption in the Karzai Government continued into 2010 – and was regularly reported by the mainstream media, but it brought no apparent change of practice in Karbul.

The US seems to have settled back into a state of permanent if largely invisible war, with the entire American burden carried directly and only by overstretched US military personnel.

David Coates holds the Worrell Chair in Anglo-American Studies at Wake Forest University. He is the author of Answering Back: Liberal Responses to Conservative Arguments, New York: Continuum Books, 2010.

He writes here in a personal capacity.

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