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Gaining Perspective via Interactive Media

written by Matt Elliott
on August 18, 2010

As the war in Afghanistan drags on, it is difficult not only to keep pace with the headlines each day or week, but also to fully grasp the scope of the United States' and NATO's efforts there. One way to better understand what is happening in Afghanistan now and what its future may hold is to look at the past.

Council on Foreign Relations Timeline - Afghanistan

The Council on Foreign Relations published a instructive and interactive timeline of the war in Afghanistan a year ago today, which it continues to update. It includes a summary of the major events, starting with the United Nations Security Council imposing sanctions against al-Qaida and the Taliban on October 15, 1999. It also includes a great many useful links that will broaden your understanding of the war.

CNN Casualties in Afghanistan Interactive Map

The casualties in Afghanistan have risen sharply this summer, as you can clearly see from this interactive guide on CNN. Using two side-by-side maps, it shows each fatality from the war, placing a dot on the map for the hometown of each soldier and another where he or she died in the war. For each soldier killed, a photo and brief details about his or her death is provided. Below the maps, three bar graphs illustrate the number of deaths by age, location and date.

There is also a tab for the war in Iraq. Looking at both, you can see how the violence in Iraq has trailed off in recent years while spiking since July 2009 in Afghanistan. Also, you can see how the fighting forces in Iraq are younger than those fighting in Afghanistan. Poke around each and you'll gain a better understanding of the human cost of both of these wars.

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