As of Tuesday, April 17, 2012, at least 1,810 members of the U.S. military have died in Afghanistan as a result of the U.S.-led invasion of that country in late 2001, according to an Associated Press count, and 15,672 U.S. service members have been wounded in hostile action, since the start of U.S. military operations there, according to the Defense Department.
Since Osama bin Laden was killed -- ostensibly the reason we went into Afghanistan -- approximately 380 American troops have been killed in Afghanistan.
As if this wasn't a high enough price paid by America and Americans, on Tuesday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai was haggling over the price it would take for America to continue to help defend his country, his government.
While the United States "already pays the vast majority of the budget to train, equip and run the Afghan security forces and expects to do so for years to come to compensate for Afghanistan's moribund economy" and while U.S. officials have said they expect to pay about $4 billion a year to fund the Afghan forces, Karzai wants the U.S. to commit to pay at least $2 billion a year for his forces.
"They are providing us money, there is no doubt about that. But they say they will not mention the amount in the agreement. We say: Give us less, but mention it in the agreement. Give us less, but write it down," Karzai said in a speech in the capital marking the anniversary of the birth of a revered Afghan writer.
American administrations request money for specific countries in the foreign aid budget and work with Congress to determine amounts. A guaranteed sum would be highly unusual, especially with the current Democratic administration and a Republican-controlled U.S. House.
At a time when the U.S. is facing budget cuts in domestic programs and a sluggish economy, members of Congress have increasingly questioned the wisdom of spending billions of dollars in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Attacks by Afghan troops against the American forces who are supposed to be training them has also raised doubts about whether the money is worthwhile.
Mr. Karzai, with all due respect, our government at the moment can't even decide how much money will be spent on our own people, on our own needs, on our own security.
Please be patient -- and appreciative.
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