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Bloodiest Month in Afghanistan?

2:30 PM, Jul 13, 2009 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
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It looks like we're well on our way. According to iCasualties.org, the number of coalition troops killed in just the first two weeks of this month is no less than forty. Roughly half of those killed have been Americans, the other half largely a mix of British and Canadian troops. Prior to this month, the highest number of soldiers killed came in June and August of last year, with 46 killed in each month. Unfortunately, it's hard to imagine that the second half of July doesn't see a new record high with an ongoing offensive by U.S. Marines in Helmand province.

Meanwhile, in Iraq, just one U.S. soldier has been killed this month, but that seems to be more a result of the current withdrawal from major urban centers than any major drop in violence over the last few months, which have been marked by a series of high-profile, high-casualty attacks in Baghdad and beyond.

For some reason, the spiraling death toll in Afghanistan doesn't seem to be getting much play in the news or in Congress, but at the rate things are going, even the press's partisan instinct to obscure this administration's setbacks from public view will not be enough to cover up the deteriorating situation. True, increasing violence and higher U.S. casualties in Iraq were, particularly in the spring of 2007, touted as evidence that the surge was working. But it's not at all clear that the administration has the troops necessary to do the job right in Afghanistan. More troops are already on the way as part of Obama's new strategy, but as the Washington Post reported late last week, McChrystal and his staff believe even that increase won't be enough.

Obama's incremental escalation will continue, as will the violence. And at some point Democrats in Congress are going to face a very tough choice between supporting this administration's goals and catering to the party's antiwar base.