Afganistan

Obama WH falsely downplaying risks of retreat in Afghanistan: Military, intel sources

Posted on October 12, 2009. Filed under: Afganistan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

by Ed Morrissey

Sources within both the intelligence and military communities tell McClatchy that Barack Obama’s White House has not been honest about the risks of moving away from a robust strategy of counterinsurgency in Afghanistan.  Obama and his advisers have begun publicly discussing the Taliban as a moderate alternative to al-Qaeda in terms of enemies, but the latest intelligence shows just the opposite.  Taliban leadership and AQ have integrated even more tightly than ever since 9/11 and act in concert on strategy and tactics:

As the Obama administration reconsiders its Afghanistan policy, White House officials are minimizing warnings from the intelligence community, the military and the State Department about the risks of adopting a limited strategy focused on al Qaida, U.S. intelligence, diplomatic and military officials told McClatchy.

Recent U.S. intelligence assessments have found that the Taliban and other Pakistan-based groups that are fighting U.S.-led forces have much closer ties to al Qaida now than they did before 9/11, would allow the terrorist network to re-establish bases in Afghanistan and would help Osama bin Laden export his radical brand of Islam to Afghanistan’s neighbors and beyond, the officials said.

McClatchy interviewed more than 15 senior and mid-level U.S. intelligence, military and diplomatic officials, all of whom said they concurred with the assessments. All of them requested anonymity because the assessments are classified and the officials weren’t authorized to speak publicly.

Bob Kerrey openly wonders why the White House has begun to tread the ground of retreat, in an op-ed for today’s Wall Street Journal:

Yet despite these setbacks, our leaders must remain focused on the fact that success in Afghanistan bolsters our national security and yes, our moral reputation. This war is not Vietnam. The Taliban are not popular and have very little support other than what they secure through terror.

Afghanistan is also not Iraq. No serious leader in Kabul is asking us to leave. Instead we are being asked to withdraw by American leaders who begin their analysis with the presumption that victory is not possible. They seem to want to ensure defeat by leaving at the very moment when our military leader on the ground has laid out a coherent and compelling strategy for victory.

When it comes to foreign policy, almost nothing matters more then your friends and your enemies knowing you will keep your word and follow through on your commitments. This is the real test of presidential leadership. I hope that President Obama—soon to be a Nobel laureate—passes with flying colors

Read the rest at HotAir.com

 

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Senators Escalate Call for Obama to Send More Troops to Afghanistan

Posted on October 12, 2009. Filed under: Afganistan | Tags: , , , , , , |

The Obama administration is deep in deliberations over whether to build on its counterinsurgency strategy with thousands more troops in Afghanistan or focus more on taking out top Al Qaeda targets, particularly in Pakistan. Sen. Dianne Feinstein is joining Senate Republicans in calling for the president to approve the request for more troops. 

Top Republican senators escalated their call Sunday for President Obama to grant Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s request for more troops in Afghanistan, and one prominent Democrat warned that a failure to do so could jeopardize U.S. forces. 

The Obama administration is deep in deliberations over whether to build on its counterinsurgency strategy with thousands more troops in Afghanistan or focus more on taking out top Al Qaeda targets, particularly in Pakistan. The bloody clash this weekend at the Pakistan army headquarters, where commandos freed dozens of hostages early Sunday after militants attacked the facility, underscored the instability in the region. 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the attack emphasized the “danger of the Taliban not only in Afghanistan but in Pakistan as well.” 

But he said any attempt by the administration to scale back the fight against the Taliban in favor of a tactical battle against Al Qaeda would damage security. 

“They are different. But they are inter-connected,” he said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” 

He said Republicans would “almost overwhelmingly support” the president if he opts to grant McChrystal’s request for more troops, estimated to be for about 40,000. 

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, also said the counterinsurgency strategy pursued by McChrystal is “really critical.” She said the American people don’t have the stomach to stay in Afghanistan for another 10 years, but that the mission there is in “serious jeopardy” and Obama has an obligation to follow his commander’s advice. 

“I don’t know how you put somebody in who was as crackerjack as General McChrystal, who gives the president very solid recommendations, and not take those recommendations if you’re not going to pull out,” Feinstein said on ABC’s “This Week.” 

“If you don’t want to take the recommendations, then you put your people in such jeopardy.” 

She suggested some elements of the Taliban could be won over, but warned that the Taliban in Afghanistan will have a “dramatic impact” on Pakistan if allowed to flourish. 

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., also said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that the Taliban and Al Qaeda will become “inextricably tied.” 

McCain, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the president is right to take his time and deliberate but that a failure to accept the advice of his military commanders would be “an error of historic proportions.” 

But many Democrats are pushing back on a call for more U.S. troops, questioning whether a larger U.S. military footprint will help change the course of the war. 

Read the rest of the story at FoxNews.com

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Krauthammer:Young Hamlet’s Agony

Posted on October 10, 2009. Filed under: Afganistan | Tags: , , , , , , |

 
by Charles Krauthammer

WASHINGTON — The genius of democracy is the rotation of power, which forces the opposition to be serious — particularly about things like war, about which until Jan. 20 of this year Democrats were decidedly unserious.

When the Iraq War (which a majority of Senate Democrats voted for) ran into trouble and casualties began to mount, Democrats followed the shifting winds of public opinion and turned decidedly anti-war. But needing political cover because of their post-Vietnam reputation for weakness on national defense, they adopted Afghanistan as their pet war.

I was part of the 2004 Kerry campaign, which elevated the idea of Afghanistan as ‘the right war’ to conventional Democratic wisdom,” wrote Democratic consultant Bob Shrum shortly after President Obama was elected. “This was accurate as criticism of the Bush administration, but it was also reflexive and perhaps by now even misleading as policy.”

Which is a clever way to say that championing victory in Afghanistan was a contrived and disingenuous policy in which Democrats never seriously believed, a convenient two-by-four with which to bash George Bush over Iraq — while still appearing warlike enough to fend off the soft-on-defense stereotype.

Brilliantly crafted and perfectly cynical, the “Iraq War bad, Afghan War good” posture worked. Democrats first won Congress, then the White House. But now, unfortunately, they must govern. No more games. No more pretense.

So what does their commander in chief do now with the war he once declared had to be won but had been almost criminally under-resourced by Bush?

Perhaps provide the resources to win it?

You would think so. And that’s exactly what Obama’s handpicked commander requested on Aug. 30 — a surge of 30,000 to 40,000 troops to stabilize a downward spiral and save Afghanistan the way a similar surge saved Iraq.

That was more than five weeks ago. Still no response. Obama agonizes publicly as the world watches. Why? Because, explains national security adviser James Jones, you don’t commit troops before you decide on a strategy.

No strategy? On March 27, flanked by his secretaries of defense and state, the president said this: “Today I’m announcing a comprehensive new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan.” He then outlined a civilian-military counterinsurgency campaign to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan.

And to emphasize his seriousness, the president made clear that he had not arrived casually at this decision. The new strategy, he declared, “marks the conclusion of a careful policy review.”
Read the rest on Page 2- Townhall.com

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It Looks Like GIs Are on Their Own

Posted on October 10, 2009. Filed under: Afganistan | Tags: , , , , , |

It Looks Like GIs Are on Their Own

By JENNIFER LOVEN

WASHINGTON — President Obama appears unlikely to accept his top Afghanistan commander’s recommendation for a surge of 40,000 troops, and is inclined to send only as many more forces as needed to keep al Qaeda at bay, a senior administration official said yesterday.The sharpened focus by Obama’s team on fighting al Qaeda above all other goals, while downgrading the emphasis on the Taliban, comes in the midst of an intensely debated administration review of the increasingly unpopular eight-year war.Though aides stress that the president’s final decision on any changes is still at least two weeks away, the emerging thinking suggests that he would be very unlikely to favor a large military increase of the kind being advocated by the top US commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal.

McChrystal’s troop request is said to include a range of options, from adding as few as 10,000 combat troops to — the general’s strong preference — as many as 40,000.

Obama’s developing strategy on the Taliban will “not tolerate their return to power,” the senior official said in an interview with The Associated Press.

But the United States would fight only to keep the Taliban from retaking control of Afghanistan’s central government — something it is now far from being capable of — and from giving renewed sanctuary in Afghanistan to al Qaeda, the official said.

Obama has conferred nearly every day this week on the war, and was continuing that yesterday with Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

On Wednesday, the eighth anniversary of the war launched by President George W. Bush after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Obama and more than a dozen officials in his war council met for three hours to focus on Afghanistan’s neighbor, Pakistan.

Read the rest of the story at New York Post

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Analysis: Al Qaeda is the tip of the jihadist spear

Posted on October 10, 2009. Filed under: Afganistan | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

By Thomas Joscelyn & Bill Roggio

 Today, in Washington, there is a debate over how to proceed with the war in Afghanistan. One school of thought that has reportedly gained prominence is based on the belief that America should focus its resources on counterterrorism efforts in Afghanistan, and especially Pakistan, instead of a counterinsurgency (COIN) campaign in Afghanistan. According to this line of thinking, the US should expand its campaign of airstrikes in northern and western Pakistan, while downgrading the contest for Afghanistan’s future.

This approach is driven in part by an assumption that al Qaeda is a narrow problem that can be neatly disentangled from all of the other geopolitical issues, including especially the rise of Islamic extremism, that plague Central and South Asia. If we focus our efforts on Osama bin Laden and his not-so-merry band of men, proponents of this approach argue, then we can adequately protect America’s interests while avoiding getting further enmeshed in a potentially disastrous Afghan conflict. The Taliban and their fellow insurgents, then, the argument goes, are not our principal concern and we should not be overly concerned if they regain power in their one-time Islamic Emirate.

General Stanley McChrystal and other top military officials do not believe the strategy outlined above is adequate. The McChrystal plan for Afghanistan calls for America to wage a counterinsurgency campaign similar to that which evolved in Iraq. Underlying the McChrystal plan is the belief that if the US and its coalition partners prevent the Taliban and its allies from returning to power in Afghanistan, then this will necessarily weaken al Qaeda’s allies and, in turn, al Qaeda itself. In the military’s view, al Qaeda is not a standalone problem but instead one head of several on a jihadist hydra.

In the piece below, we take a look at the insurgency in Afghanistan more closely – from al Qaeda’s perspective. We do not think that a shift to a predominately counterterrorism campaign utilizing airstrikes and the like is sufficient to beat back the threat to America’s interests. In fact, we argue that such thinking is rooted in a dangerous ignorance of al Qaeda and our terrorist enemies. Al Qaeda was never a self-contained problem that could be defeated by neutralizing select individuals – even though capturing or killing senior al Qaeda members surely does substantially weaken the network.

Instead, Osama bin Laden and his cohorts deliberately fashioned their organization to be the tip of a much longer jihadist spear.

This was true during the years of the Soviet Jihad, when al Qaeda established a vast rolodex of like-minded jihadist leaders who, despite what were sometimes deep differences of opinion over tactical issues, could nonetheless be called upon as allies. It was true in the pre-9/11 world, from the early 1990s through September 10, when al Qaeda forged relationships with allied terrorist organizations first in the Sudan, al Qaeda’s base from roughly 1991 until 1996, and then in Afghanistan.

And it is true in the post-9/11 world, where al Qaeda continues to leverage its decades-long relationships with jihadist allies around the globe and especially in the heart of Central and South Asia. Thus, we find that each of the three primary Afghan insurgent groups discussed in General McChrystal’s analysis – the Quetta Shura Taliban (QST), the Haqqani Network (HQN), and the Hezb-e Islami Gulbuddin (HIG) – is a core ally of al Qaeda with long-established personal ties between these groups’ senior leaders and al Qaeda’s senior leaders. Moreover, al Qaeda cooperates with each of these organizations in substantive ways in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. If anything, General McChrystal’s analysis actually downplayed the interconnectivity between these organizations and al Qaeda.

Taking a broader view, General McChrystal’s team identified two foreign states that are especially problematic in Afghanistan: Pakistan and Iran. Al Qaeda’s relationships with these states, or core parts of them, give it strategic depth in the region.
In Pakistan, the current civilian government has no interest in seeing al Qaeda live on. And General Musharraf’s regime provided vital assistance in tracking down senior al Qaeda members. But there is a hardened core within Pakistan’s military-intelligence establishment – in particular, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Agency – that is dedicated to jihad and sponsors al Qaeda’s allies, including each of the primary three insurgent groups in Afghanistan today. We should never forget that Mullah Omar,Jalaluddin Haqqani, and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar – the commanders of the Afghan insurgency – were all originally ISI proxies and, to some degree, remain so today. Parts of the ISI have also worked with al Qaeda proper for years as well.

Then, there is Iran, which has its own longstanding ties to al Qaeda’s senior leadership. In the pre-9/11 world, the Iranian regime cooperated with al Qaeda in a variety of ways. In the post-9/11 world, Iran has harbored senior al Qaeda terrorists and even armed and trained the Taliban – Iran’s one-time enemy.

What is the significance of all this? Simply put, a strategic defeat of the West in Afghanistan today is a victory for all of these forces. Even though they are not all equal partners in the Afghan insurgency, they all hold deeply anti-American, anti-Western views and are heavily invested in a Coalition defeat. Should the insurgency permanently capture large swaths of Afghanistan, then these views will be vindicated. America will be seen as the “weak horse,” in Osama bin Laden’s words, once again. That al Qaeda is not the prime mover in the Afghan insurgency does not mean that its interests in the outcome are small. A victory for any of the three chief insurgency groups, or all of them together, including their sponsors, is a victory for al Qaeda and will surely strengthen its hand. And, contrary to widespread reporting, al Qaeda does play a noteworthy role in the Afghan insurgency.

The Quetta Shura Taliban (QST) and al Qaeda

The Taliban’s leadership, including Mullah Omar, consistently refused to turn over Osama bin Laden prior to the September 11 attacks. And after al Qaeda’s most devastating attacks, Mullah Omar again refused to answer calls for bin Laden to be turned over – even under the threat of war. The 9/11 Commission detailed the repeated efforts of both the Clinton and Bush administrations to get the Taliban’s leader to give up his most notorious friend. Those efforts failed – every time.

In all likelihood, this will never change. Mullah Omar simply will not abandon his longtime ally. Mullah Omar is the “Leader of the Faithful” and al Qaeda has sworn allegiance to his Emirate. Osama bin Laden himself has sworn his personal fealty to Mullah Omar. For Omar to betray bin Laden and al Qaeda now would be a colossal blemish on the Taliban’s legitimacy in the broader jihadist community’s eyes. Indeed, al Qaeda leaders have long recognized that Mullah Omar is firmly behind them.
Abdullah Sa’id, an al Qaeda commander who leads its “Shadow Army,” has openly mocked the idea that Mullah Omar would betray al Qaeda now. “US and Western sources talk about their readiness to accept the Taliban in the Afghan future political structure should it leave the Al Qaeda,” he has said. But that is not reality, Sa’id explained:

Read the rest of this article at LongWarJournal.org

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Lose Afghanistan, Lose Pakistan, Lose Iran, Lose It All

Posted on October 8, 2009. Filed under: Afganistan |

By James Lewis

The gangster regimes of the world are on the march, and they’ve got our number. They know how to squeeze more civilized nations. Our weakness is cowardice, and that goes double or triple in the face of nuclear weapons. That’s why all the rogues are trying to get nukes as fast as they can. They know it’s the perfect blackmail weapon, and it makes them invulnerable to attack.

That is also why President Obama’s public rejection of General McChrystal’s advice on Afghanistan affects your personal safety and mine. Gen. McChrystal wants more troops. Obama doesn’t want to send them because he needs the money to promote his socialist take-over of America. You can’t have both. Look at Europe, where the military have become pathetic social welfare programs. All the air is sucked out by bigger and bigger victim programs.

Obama must be realizing by now that the chance of a major war in the Gulf next year is rising to 100 percent. Ahmadinejad will have nuclear weapons too, and he already has enough radioactive materials for a dirty nuke, a low-tech weapon that can spread terror everywhere in the world. The Left always puts the burden of proof for WMDs on America, which can never prove their existence because the CIA rarely can penetrate totalitarian regimes. You can’t prove a negative.  Ever. So the Left is always asking the impossible. It makes them sound reasonable when they are just sabotaging common sense.

But Saddam had a warehouse full of yellowcake uranium, as we now know, and to make a terror weapon all he had to do is load a plane full of that stuff and crash it into the LA Library Tower. You don’t need a nuclear explosion to spread terror. All you need is a lot of radioactive stuff thrown together with explosive; agricultural fertilizer will do.  For radioactive material you could use the Cesium in your local X-ray unit. Saddam did not do that because he feared our inevitable retaliation.

via American Thinker: Lose Afghanistan, Lose Pakistan, Lose Iran, Lose It All.

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Obama Moves to Muzzle Top Military Commanders

Posted on October 7, 2009. Filed under: Afganistan | Tags: , |

By: David A. Patten

Sources tell Newsmax the Obama administration is muzzling its top military leaders, and keeping them from publicly airing their views on how to fight the war in Afghanistan.

The administration’s primary target: top Afghanistan commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal, whose speech in London last week apparently caught administration officials off guard.

In fact, The Daily Telegraph reported that Obama’s advisers were “shocked and angered” by McChrystal’s speech.

“This is a food fight in the war room, and it’s getting ugly,” observed Pulitzer Prize winning correspondent and Manhattan Institute scholar Judith Miller, regarding the sharply contrasting views being aired within the administration over how to fight the war.

n his speech, McChrystal defended his request for 40,000 more soldiers to wage a counter-insurgency campaign in Afghanistan, warning “a strategy that does not leave Afghanistan in a stable position is probably a shortsighted strategy.”

Without mentioning Vice President Joe Biden by name, McChrystal said the vice president’s proposal to scale back the objectives for the war would lead to “chaos-istan.”

Shortly after those remarks, McChrystal was summoned to a face-to-face meeting with President Obama aboard Air Force One in Copenhagen, where Obama was making his ill-fated attempt to support Chicago’s bid to host the 2016 summer Olympic games. Obama’s National Security Adviser, Jim Jones, described their discussion as an exchange of “very direct views.”

On Monday, in an obvious reference to McChrystal, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told the Association of the U.S. Army that “It is imperative that all of us taking part in these deliberations — civilian and military alike — provide our best advice to the president candidly but privately.”

That statement appeared to echo remarks on Sunday from Jones, a retired Marine general. He told CNN, “Ideally, it’s best for military advice to come up through the chain of command.”

The none-too-subtle message to America’s top military leaders: Don’t share your candid views on the war in public. It appears McChrystal received the message loud and clear. According to The Washington Independent, McChrystal spokesperson and Air Force Lt. Col. Tadd Sholtis stated: “General McChrystal concurs with the secretary and shares his perspective that the president’s military and civilian policy advisers need to provide candid but private advice.”

Sholtis also said that McChrystal has no current plans for additional public appearances, The Washington Independent reported.

McChrystal became the top U.S. general in Afghanistan after Gates fired Gen. David D. McKiernan in May. McKiernan, who was criticized in some circles as insufficiently innovative, presided over a troop-strength increase of 21,000 soldiers. He had filed a request with the Pentagon for 10,000 more at the time he was replaced.

At the time, Gates ordered McChrystal to provide “fresh thinking” and “fresh eyes” on Afghanistan. But apparently it was McChrystal’s fresh tongue that got him in trouble.

The New York Times reported Monday that Gen. David H. Petraeus, who was widely credited with carrying out the successful surge in Iraq, has already toned down his remarks since Obama attained the presidency.

“General Petraeus’s aides now privately call him ‘David the Dull,'” the Times reports, “and say he has largely muzzled himself from the fierce public debate about the war to avoid antagonizing the White House, which does not want pressure from military superstars and is wary of the general’s ambitions in particular.”

The concern among some experts is that President Obama’s effort to tone down his military leaders may indicate he wants to triangulate a more politically palatable approach to fighting the war that may fall short of being militarily decisive.

Read the rest at NewsMax.com

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Dem: House GOP is “80 percent male, 100 percent white”

Posted on October 7, 2009. Filed under: Afganistan | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

By Glenn Thrush

The National Republican Congressional Committee is urging Gen. Stanley McChrystal to put House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “in her place” for weighing in on Afghanistan — prompting one female Pelosi ally to  blast the House GOP as “80 percent male,” “100 percent white” — and completely out of touch.

On Monday night, Pelosi told Charlie Rose “should go up the line of command” instead of publicly opining on strategy — prompting a swift, sneering reaction from the GOP committee.

Mocking the first female speaker as “General Pelosi,” an NRCC spokesman wrote, “If Nancy Pelosi’s failed economic policies are any indicator of the effect she may have on Afghanistan, taxpayers can only hope McChrystal is able to put her in her place.”

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), who is close to Pelosi, could barely contain her anger.

“I think the place for a woman is at the top of the House of Representatives,” said Wasserman Schultz.

“It’s evidence they long for the days when a woman’s place was in the kitchen. Now a woman is third in line for the presidency… But it’s not surprising, coming from a party that’s 80 percent male and 100 percent white,” she added, referring to the composition of the House GOP conference.

NRCC Spokesman Ken Spain was unrepentant, telling POLITICO that Pelosi is “playing out of her league,” and questioned the reluctance of Democrats to call for McChrystal to testify in a hearing on the war.

Spain: “Spare us the lectures and mock-outrage. The Speaker of the House is taking on a highly decorated general who has outlined a strategy in Afghanistan that she once claimed to advocate… [S]he’s playing out of her league and she knows it.”

Read more Politico.com

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