Friday, November 20, 2009
War Notes: November 20, 2009
(I know the cartoon is about Iraq, but man, it was too good to pass up)
The military has apparently lifted it's Don't Ask Don't Tell policy. No, there has been no formal change, but when Bethany Smith, a lesbian soldier suffering from harassment over her sexuality ask for a discharge, she was sent to Afghanistan instead. The military's need for boots on the ground outweighed their treasured policy. Fearing for her safety after enduring threats from her fellow soldiers, Smith fled to Canada as a deserter. The Canadian court system is now determining whether or not to turn her over to the United States or accept her as a refugee. Smith said that she would fear for her life if she were returned to the military.
The Netherlands and Canada have scheduled their departures from Afghanistan. Netherlands will be peacing out next year, though Canada, with its relatively significant 2,800 troops, will stick around until 2011.
The friendly folks at the Associated Press, via the CIA World Handbook, thought fit to publish some statistics about Afghanistan today. It can't hurt to know:
Population: 28.4 million
Median Age: 17.6
Life Expectancy: 44.6
Percentage living below poverty line: 53% (Not sure what this number means)
Ethnic composition: 42% Pashtun, 27% Tajik, 9% Hazara, 9% Uzbek, 13% other.
Religious compostion: 80% Sunni Muslim, 19% Shiite Muslim, 1% other.
Can you name the six countries that border Afghanistan? The answers are...
s Iran, Pakistan, China, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. If you knew all six, you are legit.
In the most depressing news of the day, the United Nations has ranked Afghanistan as the worst place on earth to be born. The report cites the endless war, the worst infant mortality rate in the world, the fact that only 30% of the country has access to clean drinking water and outbreaks of measles and polio as among the reasons for Afghanistan's ranking. For those who want to send more troops, just remember you are sending them to literally the worst place on earth. For those proud of all the good work we've done, just remember it's still the worst place on earth. For those who want to "rebuild" the country, the road ahead is long, when you are rebuilding the worst place on earth.
All of you have a great weekend!