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Power User
Posts: 42467

« Reply #150 on: March 28, 2011, 11:19:01 AM »

Is it true they are calling for NFZ's over Yemen and Syria?!?
Power User
Posts: 15532

« Reply #151 on: March 28, 2011, 11:36:10 AM »

Power User
Posts: 9464

« Reply #152 on: March 28, 2011, 02:04:40 PM »

Yemen and Syria would be 2 examples of countries more strategic to our interests than Libya. Egypt, Israel, Bahrain perhaps, Saudi, Jordan, Iran, Pakistan, etc. are more strategic to our interests.  Sec. Gates says Libya is not in our vital interest.  Tonight the President will imply something else.  I am not trivializing the importance of Libya, but can anyone name all the countries more strategic to our interests at this moment than Libya?

Regarding NFZ's in Syria and Yemen, I do not know.  Yemen voted for the no fly zone in Libya.  My understanding is that the 'rebels' in Yemen are even more clearly al Qaidi affiliates than Libya's rebels and that the leadership is more with us on anti-terror, and less tied to things like shooting done American civilians.  In normal times we would be more on the side of the regime than with the rebels (I would think).  With Obama in charge, who knows.  In that sense an NFZ doesn't make sense.  Obama ruled out troops a year ago,  but again, who knows.

Yemen was once North and South Yemen, the south was a cold war Communist state.  Yemen supported Saddam's invasion of Kuwait.  Now they fight against their own harboring of terrorists and camps. (?)  A sea border with Somalia only thickens the plot.  Yemen is deserving of its own thread if only we knew enough to post in it.
Power User
Posts: 42467

« Reply #153 on: March 28, 2011, 03:51:51 PM »


Power User
Posts: 15532

« Reply #154 on: March 28, 2011, 04:21:20 PM »
White House says Libya decision based on 'best interests'
By Michael O'Brien - 03/28/11 12:54 PM ET
No sense of precedent guided President Obama’s decision to intervene in Libya, administration officials said Monday.

"We don’t make decisions about questions like intervention based on consistency or precedent,"
said Denis McDonough, the administration's deputy national security adviser, amid an off-camera gaggle of reporters. "We make them based on how we can best advance our interests in the region."

Power User
Posts: 15532

« Reply #155 on: March 29, 2011, 04:00:28 PM »

Since the conflict began, a squadron of 18 RAF Typhoon pilots has enforced the Libya no-fly zone from an air base in southern Italy. However, a shortage of qualified fighter pilots means the RAF may not have enough to replace all of them when the squadron has to rotate in a few weeks.

The situation is so serious that the RAF has halted the teaching of trainee Typhoon pilots so instructors can be drafted on to the front line, according to air force sources. The handful of pilots used for air shows will also be withdrawn from displays this summer.

The shortage has arisen because cuts to the defence budget over the past decade have limited the number of pilots who have been trained to fly the new Typhoon.

There are also fewer newly qualified pilots coming through after the RAF was forced to cut a quarter of its trainee places due to cuts announced in last year’s Strategic Defence and Security Review.

The Government’s decision to decommission HMS Ark Royal, Harrier jump jets and the Nimrod reconnaissance aircraft — all of which could have played a role in the Libya conflict — has exacerbated the problem. Serving RAF pilots contacted The Daily Telegraph to warn of the risks to the Libya operation. “We have a declining pool of pilots,” one said. “There’s less people to do twice as much work. If we are not training any more we are going to run out of personnel very soon.”

Power User
Posts: 15532

« Reply #156 on: March 30, 2011, 12:30:58 PM »

Libya: What’s Really Behind the U.S. Action
By LIZ PEEK, The Fiscal Times
March 30, 2011Self interest is at the core of diplomacy. Therefore, the acknowledged lack of apparent U.S. self interest in containing Gaddafi’s troops in Libya has led some to question our military intervention in that country. Last night President Obama defended our engagement in Libya, suggesting that the United States is “different” from those countries that can stand by and witness atrocities; unlike others, Mr. Obama said, we have a moral mandate to protect innocent citizens. Naturally, we are led to wonder whether that same obligation extends to Syria or to Bahrain, or to any other country where a desperate government decides to slaughter its own people.

Is there something that President Obama is not telling us? Is it possible that we have a greater vested interest in squashing Gaddafi’s belligerence than we are letting on? Could it be that Gaddafi’s reported threats to bomb his country’s oilfields lit the fuse under the leaders of France and Britain who all but shamed us into climbing aboard? Or was it Gaddafi’s prediction that a flood of immigrants would “swamp” Europe that aroused Sarkozy’s energies? 

It is possible that the U.S. is more vulnerable to chaos in Libya than is generally known. Our economic recovery is hanging by a thread — a thread which weaves through the EU and also through Asia. Our modest recovery has been threatened repeatedly — by the government debt crisis in Europe last year and more recently by the tsunami in Japan. Rising oil prices and the prospect of more wide-spread inflation appears to be taking a toll. The recent swoon in consumer confidence presages a fall-off in all-important spending while the housing numbers continue dismal.

Europe’s leaders might have convinced Obama that
Gaddafi’s threats to attack oilfields or create chaos
through disruptive immigration could sow the seeds of a
double dip in Europe.

As important as the consumer is in the U.S., it is also essential that our major export markets remain healthy. As in our country, the OECD members are challenged by fiscal difficulties and more recently by inflation. Consumer prices rose 2.4 percent in the OECD in February — the highest rate of increase since October 2008. Concerns about price hikes are likely fueling anxiety among consumers in Europe as well as in the U.S.

All of these developments mean that the upturn from the banking crisis remains fragile. Fed Chair Ben Bernanke repeatedly has used this uncertainty to argue for the quantitative easing program (QE2) that many view as dangerously encouraging inflation. Bottom line: It is not a stretch to imagine that Europe’s leaders might have convinced President Obama that Gaddafi’s threats to attack oil fields or create chaos through disruptive immigration could sow the seeds of a double dip in Europe.

They could have made the case that a slump would have pulled the U.S. down as well — the worst of all possible preludes to the 2012 election for Mr. Obama. Were that case made, it is equally believable that Obama would engage all possible measures to thwart such a development.

In Europe, Italy is especially vulnerable to threats by Gaddafi to bomb his own oilfields and to unleash a massive wave of illegal immigrants. Because of its location, that country is already dealing with the exodus of large numbers of Tunisians and would be the natural entry point for Libyans as well. Italy, like other countries in the E.U., is already struggling and in no position to support a wave of dependent newcomers. At the same time, Italy has sizeable economic interests in its former colony — its state-owned oil company is the largest in the North African nation.

Power User
Posts: 42467

« Reply #157 on: April 01, 2011, 07:49:35 AM »

I want to step back from the controversy over Libya and take a look at one definition of what foreign policy is, or rather what its broader purposes might be. Then I want to make a small point.

The other day I came across an extract from a debate that took place in the British House of Commons in July 1864. Benjamin Disraeli, the future prime minister, was arguing that the government's policy in Germany and Denmark was a failure and deserved Parliament's formal censure. In damning Westminster's mismanagement, he drew a pretty good, broad-strokes picture of what a great nation's foreign policy might look like.

First the damning. "Do you see," Disraeli asks, "the kind of capacity that is adequate to the occasion? Do you find . . . that sagacity, that prudence, that dexterity, that quickness of perception" and that mood of "conciliation" that are necessary in the transaction of foreign affairs? No, he suggests, you do not. All these characteristics have been "wanting," and because they are wanting, three results have accrued: The policy of Her Majesty's government has failed, England's "influence in the councils of Europe has been lowered," and that waning of influence has left the prospects for peace diminished.

He stops to define terms: Regarding influence, "I mean an influence that results from the conviction of foreign Powers that our resources are great and that our policy is moderate and steadfast." He seeks the return of a conservative approach. "I do not mean by a Conservative foreign policy a foreign policy that would disapprove, still less oppose, the natural development of nations. I mean a foreign policy interested in the tranquility and prosperity of the world," one condition of which is peace. England should be "a moderating and mediatorial Power." Its interest, when changes in the world are inevitable and necessary, is to assist so that the changes "if possible, may be accomplished without war; or, if war occurs, that its duration and asperity be lessened."

Disraeli's censure motion would narrowly fail and in the end not matter much. But there's something satisfying and refreshing in his clear assertion of basic principles, of beginning points for thinking about foreign policy. A nation, to have influence, must be understood by all to be both very strong and very sober. Prosperity and tranquility are legitimate goals, peace a necessary condition. And there's a paradox as great nations move forward in the world: In order to have a dramatically good influence, you must have a known bias toward the nondramatic, toward the merely prudent and wise. A known bias, that is, toward peaceableness. And here is my small point.

View Full Image

Benjamin Disraeli at the Bucks election, 1847.
.All this speaks to something I think we have lost the past 10 years—the generally understood sense in the world that the U.S. has a known bias toward the moderate and peaceable. I don't here argue or debate the many reasons, the history, or the series of actions that have brought this about, only to note: It was a lot to lose! I think we want to get it back, or try to re-establish a good portion of it. Because there is great benefit in seeming to be a big strong nation that is unroiled, unruffled and unbattered by the constant high seas of the world. Passivity isn't an option, and what's called isolationism is an impossibility—we live in the world—but we are too much taken by the idea of dramatic action. We've become almost addicted to it, or that our presidents have.

There are always many facts and dynamics that prompt modern leaders toward dramatic and immediate action as opposed to reflection, serious debate, and the long slog of diplomatic effort. But are we fully appreciating that our media, now, seem to force the hand of every leader and require them to decide, move and push forward?

The bias of the media is for action, passion and pictures. It is television producers and website runners who are the greatest lovers of "kinetic" events. They need to fill time. They need conflict and drama. At CBS News years ago there was a producer who called the film, as it then was, of a military or street battle "the bang-bang." The bang-bang was good for a piece. In a good minute-30 report there would be the stand-up opening by the correspondent, the statement of the besieged ruler or the aggrieved rebel, the map with arrows, the bang-bang, and then the closing summation. It was good TV! It is still good TV, and there is more TV than ever.

Every president has to know now that if there is fighting somewhere in the world, if there is suffering somewhere in the world, and the U.S. does not become involved, the scandal of that lack of involvement will become an endless segment on an endless television show full of endless questions. Why the inaction? Why are we doing nothing?

It should be noted that we are fighting now in Libya not because of mass slaughter but because of the threat of mass slaughter. Let's say what the president's supporters can't say and his opponents won't say: If the slaughter had happened, those pictures would have been very bad politically for the president.

Our foreign policy is increasingly driven by the needs of television programmers. I think I'll repeat that: Our foreign policy is more and more being dictated by the people who do the rundowns for tv new shows.

A president who "does nothing" in the face of trouble, who does not respond to the constant agitation of dramatic videotape on television and the Internet, is called weak. He is called cowardly, dithering, unworthy. He is called Jimmy Carter.

More Peggy Noonan
Read Peggy Noonan's previous columns

click here to order her new book, Patriotic Grace
.So he and his administration feel forced to share the media's bias toward action. No longer are leaders allowed to think what previous generations of political leaders knew, or learned: that when 10 problems are walking toward you on the street, you don't have to rush forward to confront them. It's wiser to wait because, life being messy and unpredictable, half the problems will fall in a ditch or lose their strength before they get to you. The trick is to handle with dispatch ones that do reach you. The talent is in guessing which ones they might be.

I know that this particular challenge to foreign policy sobriety is not new and is in fact at least 30 years old. But with the proliferation of media and technology, it is getting more intense. It will never lessen now. It will only build.

There ought to be a word for something we know that is so much a part of our lives that we forget to know it, we forget to see it, and yet it has a profound impact on the world we live in. We forget to fully factor it in, or we do factor it in but don't notice it is a primary factor.

Every leader now must know the dynamic and be an active bulwark against it. He will have to discuss why we cannot allow our nervous, agitating media to demand our involvement in every fight.

A president has to provide all the pushback. Republicans should keep that in mind, too. They'll have the White House soon enough. Some of their decisions will be at the mercy of television programmers too.

Power User
Posts: 42467

« Reply #158 on: April 05, 2011, 06:22:04 AM »

April 5, 2011


By George Friedman

There are wars in pursuit of interest. In these wars, nations pursue economic or
strategic ends to protect the nation or expand its power. There are also wars of
ideology, designed to spread some idea of "the good," whether this good is religious
or secular. The two obviously can be intertwined, such that a war designed to spread
an ideology also strengthens the interests of the nation spreading the ideology.

Since World War II, a new class of war has emerged that we might call humanitarian
wars -- wars in which the combatants claim to be fighting neither for their national
interest nor to impose any ideology, but rather to prevent inordinate human
suffering. In Kosovo and now in Libya, this has been defined as stopping a
government from committing mass murder. But it is not confined to that. In the
1990s, the U.S. intervention in Somalia was intended to alleviate a famine while the
invasion of Haiti was designed to remove a corrupt and oppressive regime causing
grievous suffering.

It is important to distinguish these interventions from peacekeeping missions. In a
peacekeeping mission, third-party forces are sent to oversee some agreement reached
by combatants. Peacekeeping operations are not conducted to impose a settlement by
force of arms; rather, they are conducted to oversee a settlement by a neutral
force. In the event the agreement collapses and war resumes, the peacekeepers either
withdraw or take cover. They are soldiers, but they are not there to fight beyond
protecting themselves.

Concept vs. Practice

In humanitarian wars, the intervention is designed both to be neutral and to protect
potential victims on one side. It is at this point that the concept and practice of
a humanitarian war become more complex. There is an ideology undergirding
humanitarian wars, one derived from both the U.N. Charter and from the lessons drawn
from the Holocaust, genocide in Rwanda, Bosnia and a range of other circumstances
where large-scale slaughter -- crimes against humanity -- took place. That no one
intervened to prevent or stop these atrocities was seen as a moral failure.
According to this ideology, the international community has an obligation to prevent
such slaughter.

This ideology must, of course, confront other principles of the U.N. Charter, such
as the right of nations to self-determination. In international wars, where the
aggressor is trying to both kill large numbers of civilians and destroy the enemy's
right to national self-determination, this does not pose a significant intellectual
problem. In internal unrest and civil war, however, the challenge of the
intervention is to protect human rights without undermining national sovereignty or
the right of national self-determination.

The doctrine becomes less coherent in a civil war in which one side is winning and
promising to slaughter its enemies, Libya being the obvious example. Those
intervening can claim to be carrying out a neutral humanitarian action, but in
reality, they are intervening on one side's behalf. If the intervention is
successful -- as it likely will be given that interventions are invariably by
powerful countries against weaker ones -- the practical result is to turn the
victims into victors. By doing that, the humanitarian warriors are doing more than
simply protecting the weak. They are also defining a nation's history.

There is thus a deep tension between the principle of national self-determination
and the obligation to intervene to prevent slaughter. Consider a case such as Sudan,
where it can be argued that the regime is guilty of crimes against humanity but also
represents the will of the majority of the people in terms of its religious and
political program. It can be argued reasonably that a people who would support such
a regime have lost the right to national self-determination, and that it is proper
that a regime be imposed on it from the outside. But that is rarely the argument
made in favor of humanitarian intervention. I call humanitarian wars immaculate
intervention, because most advocates want to see the outcome limited to preventing
war crimes, not extended to include regime change or the imposition of alien values.
They want a war of immaculate intentions surgically limited to a singular end
without other consequences. And this is where the doctrine of humanitarian war

Regardless of intention, any intervention favors the weaker side. If the side were
not weak, it would not be facing mass murder; it could protect itself. Given that
the intervention must be military, there must be an enemy. Wars by military forces
are fought against enemies, not for abstract concepts. The enemy will always be the
stronger side. The question is why that side is stronger. Frequently, this is
because a great many people in the country, most likely a majority, support that
side. Therefore, a humanitarian war designed to prevent the slaughter of the
minority must many times undermine the will of the majority. Thus, the intervention
may begin with limited goals but almost immediately becomes an attack on what was,
up to that point, the legitimate government of a country.

A Slow Escalation

The solution is to intervene gently. In the case of Libya, this began with a no-fly
zone that no reasonable person expected to have any significant impact. It proceeded
to airstrikes against Gadhafi's forces, which continued to hold their own against
these strikes. It now has been followed by the dispatching of Royal Marines, whose
mission is unclear, but whose normal duties are fighting wars. What we are seeing in
Libya is a classic slow escalation motivated by two factors. The first is the hope
that the leader of the country responsible for the bloodshed will capitulate. The
second is a genuine reluctance of intervening nations to spend excessive wealth or
blood on a project they view in effect as charitable. Both of these need to be

The expectation of capitulation in the case of Libya is made unlikely by another
aspect of humanitarian war fighting, namely the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Modeled in principle on the Nuremberg trials and the International Criminal Tribunal
for the former Yugoslavia, the ICC is intended to try war criminals. Trying to
induce Moammar Gadhafi to leave Libya knowing that what awaits him is trial and the
certain equivalent of a life sentence will not work. Others in his regime would not
resign for the same reason. When his foreign minister appeared to defect to London,
the demand for his trial over Lockerbie and other affairs was immediate. Nothing
could have strengthened Gadhafi's position more. His regime is filled with people
guilty of the most heinous crimes. There is no clear mechanism for a plea bargain
guaranteeing their immunity. While a logical extension of humanitarian warfare --
having intervened against atrocities, the perpetrators ought to be brought to
justice -- the effect is a prolongation of the war. The example of Slobodan
Milosevic of Yugoslavia, who ended the Kosovo War with what he thought was a promise
that he would not be prosecuted, undoubtedly is on Gadhafi's mind.

But the war is also prolonged by the unwillingness of the intervening forces to
inflict civilian casualties. This is reasonable, given that their motivation is to
prevent civilian casualties. But the result is that instead of a swift and direct
invasion designed to crush the regime in the shortest amount of time, the regime
remains intact and civilians and others continue to die. This is not simply a matter
of moral squeamishness. It also reflects the fact that the nations involved are
unwilling -- and frequently blocked by political opposition at home -- from the
commitment of massive and overwhelming force. The application of minimal and
insufficient force, combined with the unwillingness of people like Gadhafi and his
equally guilty supporters to face The Hague, creates the framework for a long and
inconclusive war in which the intervention in favor of humanitarian considerations
turns into an intervention in a civil war on the side that opposes the regime.

This, then, turns into the problem that the virtue of the weaker side may consist
only of its weakness. In other words, strengthened by foreign intervention that
clears their way to power, they might well turn out just as brutal as the regime
they were fighting. It should be remembered that many of Libya's opposition leaders
are former senior officials of the Gadhafi government. They did not survive as long
as they did in that regime without having themselves committed crimes, and without
being prepared to commit more.

In that case, the intervention -- less and less immaculate -- becomes an exercise in
nation-building. Having destroyed the Gadhafi government and created a vacuum in
Libya and being unwilling to hand power to Gadhafi's former aides and now enemies,
the intervention -- now turning into an occupation-- must now invent a new
government. An invented government is rarely welcome, as the United States
discovered in Iraq. At least some of the people resent being occupied regardless of
the occupier's original intentions, leading to insurgency. At some point, the
interveners have the choice of walking away and leaving chaos, as the United States
did in Somalia, or staying for a long time and fighting, as they did in Iraq.

Iraq is an interesting example. The United States posed a series of justifications
for its invasion of Iraq, including simply that Saddam Hussein was an amoral monster
who had killed hundreds of thousands and would kill more. It is difficult to choose
between Hussein and Gadhafi. Regardless of the United States' other motivations in
both conflicts, it would seem that those who favor humanitarian intervention would
have favored the Iraq war. That they generally opposed the Iraq war from the
beginning requires a return to the concept of immaculate intervention.

Hussein was a war criminal and a danger to his people. However, the American
justification for intervention was not immaculate. It had multiple reasons, only one
of which was humanitarian. Others explicitly had to do with national interest, the
claims of nuclear weapons in Iraq and the desire to reshape Iraq. That it also had a
humanitarian outcome -- the destruction of the Hussein regime -- made the American
intervention inappropriate in the view of those who favor immaculate interventions
for two reasons. First, the humanitarian outcome was intended as part of a broader
war. Second, regardless of the fact that humanitarian interventions almost always
result in regime change, the explicit intention to usurp Iraq's national
self-determination openly undermined in principle what the humanitarian interveners
wanted to undermine only in practice.

Other Considerations

The point here is not simply that humanitarian interventions tend to devolve into
occupations of countries, albeit more slowly and with more complex rhetoric. It is
also that for the humanitarian warrior, there are other political considerations. In
the case of the French, the contrast between their absolute opposition to Iraq and
their aggressive desire to intervene in Libya needs to be explained. I suspect it
will not be.

There has been much speculation that the intervention in Libya was about oil. All
such interventions, such as those in Kosovo and Haiti, are examined for hidden
purposes. Perhaps it was about oil in this case, but Gadhafi was happily shipping
oil to Europe, so intervening to ensure that it continues makes no sense. Some say
France's Total and Britain's BP engineered the war to displace Italy's ENI in
running the oil fields. While possible, these oil companies are no more popular at
home than oil companies are anywhere in the world. The blowback in France or Britain
if this were shown to be the real reason would almost certainly cost French
President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron their jobs, and
they are much too fond of those to risk them for oil companies. I am reminded that
people kept asserting that the 2003 Iraq invasion was designed to seize Iraq's oil
for Texas oilmen. If so, it is taking a long time to pay off. Sometimes the lack of
a persuasive reason for a war generates theories to fill the vacuum. In all
humanitarian wars, there is a belief that the war could not be about humanitarian

Therein lays the dilemma of humanitarian wars. They have a tendency to go far beyond
the original intent behind them, as the interveners, trapped in the logic of
humanitarian war, are drawn further in. Over time, the ideological zeal frays and
the lack of national interest saps the intervener's will. It is interesting that
some of the interventions that bought with them the most good were carried out
without any concern for the local population and with ruthless self-interest. I
think of Rome and Britain. They were in it for themselves. They did some good

My unease with humanitarian intervention is not that I don't think the intent is
good and the end moral. It is that the intent frequently gets lost and the moral end
is not achieved. Ideology, like passion, fades. But interest has a certain enduring
quality. A doctrine of humanitarian warfare that demands an immaculate intervention
will fail because the desire to do good is an insufficient basis for war. It does
not provide a rigorous military strategy to what is, after all, a war. Neither does
it bind a nation's public to the burdens of the intervention. In the end, the
ultimate dishonesties of humanitarian war are the claims that "this won't hurt much"
and "it will be over fast." In my view, their outcome is usually either a withdrawal
without having done much good or a long occupation in which the occupied people are
singularly ungrateful.

North Africa is no place for casual war plans and good intentions. It is an old,
tough place. If you must go in, go in heavy, go in hard and get out fast.
Humanitarian warfare says that you go in light, you go in soft and you stay there
long. I have no quarrel with humanitarianism. It is the way the doctrine wages war
that concerns me. Getting rid of Gadhafi is something we can all feel good about and
which Europe and America can afford. It is the aftermath -- the place beyond the
immaculate intervention -- that concerns me.

This report may be forwarded or republished on your website with attribution to

Copyright 2011 STRATFOR.

« Reply #159 on: April 05, 2011, 05:04:55 PM »

Why We Should Be Against Armed Humanitarianism by Gene Healy
from Cato Recent Op-eds
Why are we bombing Libya? To prevent a massacre that would have "stained the conscience of the world," President Obama proclaimed in his address to the nation last week.

"As president, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action," he said.

Say what you will about the Bush Doctrine of preventive war, at least it was directed at purported threats to American national security. Obama, by contrast, reserves the right to shoot first before the global conscience gets stained. In this vision, the U.S. military serves as a sort of Scotchgard for the World-Soul.

The president allowed that "America cannot use our military whenever repression occurs." But when our interests, values, "unique abilities" and the will of the international community properly align — he'll let us know when that is — we'll act "on behalf of what's right."

But when it comes to armed humanitarianism, deciding what's right may not be quite so simple, argues international relations scholar Alan J. Kuperman, author of The Limits of Humanitarian Intervention. First, generally speaking, "killers are quicker than intervenors"; second, "more intervention might actually lead to a net increase in killing," not just from "collateral damage," but by changing the incentives of actors on the ground.

Take the case of Rwanda. Our failure to intervene there in 1994 is now widely considered a shameful missed opportunity to avert mass murder.

But "had the United States tried to stop the Rwandan genocide," Kuperman writes, "it would have required about six weeks to deploy a task force of 15,000 personnel and their equipment," meaning that "by the time Western governments learned of the Rwandan genocide and deployed an intervention force, the vast majority of the ultimate Tutsi victims would already have been killed."

Indeed, sometimes intervention increases the pace of violence. Serbian forces sped up ethnic cleansing in Kosovo in response to NATO's March 1999 decision to bomb. "Most of their cleansing occurred in the first two weeks, and they managed to force out 850,000 Albanians."

Further complicating matters is what Kuperman calls "the moral hazard of humanitarian intervention." Such interventions can have the perverse effect of encouraging risk-seeking behavior by those expecting rescue.

That happened in the 1990s, Kuperman argues, when the policy of humanitarian intervention "convinced some groups that the international community would intervene to protect them from retaliation, thereby encouraging armed rebellions."

But in the case of Bosnia-Herzegovina's Muslims, for example, intervention occurred three years after secession, by which time an estimated 100,000 had been killed.

Last month, Jackson Diehl chided his Washington Post colleague George Will for asking, "Would not U.S. intervention in Libya encourage other restive peoples to expect U.S. military assistance?"

"Perhaps it would," Diehl replied, "and if a powerful opposition movement appeared in Syria, and asked the West for weapons or air support to finish off the Assad regime, would that be a disaster?"

I don't know, perhaps it would. Diehl, an ardent supporter of the Iraq War, ought to at least entertain the possibility. After all, that war turned out to be far more costly than folks like Diehl imagined at the outset. More than 4,000 Americans and anywhere from 40,000 to 100,000 Iraqi civilians have vanished so far in the fog of humanitarian war.

Would Syria present similar risks? Does Libya? Probably not, but one thing is certain: War is a bloody, uncertain business. When you decide to wage one, you need a good reason. Airy doctrines about impending moral stains on the international conscience don't make the grade.

Here, a little less hubris might be more humanitarian.

Gene Healy is a vice president at the Cato Institute and the author of The Cult of the Presidency.
Power User
Posts: 15532

« Reply #160 on: April 05, 2011, 05:07:22 PM »

China is aggressively crushing dissenters as we speak. NFZ?


Selective moral outrage.
Power User
Posts: 2004

« Reply #161 on: April 09, 2011, 09:39:44 AM »

CCP; is this an example of the "thanks" we get?    huh

I still don't understand why we just don't stay home and solve our own domestic problems rather than trying to solve everyone else's.

"Tens of thousands of demonstrators in eastern Baghdad marked the eighth anniversary of the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime with a protest Saturday against the American troop presence there."
Power User
Posts: 7827

« Reply #162 on: April 09, 2011, 10:35:34 AM »

"I still don't understand why we just don't stay home and solve our own domestic problems rather than trying to solve everyone else's."

I agree JDN. 

INjecting Soros into this -

He blames Bush for policies around the world and stating Bush is why people hate Jews? (I presume he is alluding to Wolfowitz).  Yet at the same time this mixed up joker states we should be fighting for democracy against autocratic regimes and let peoples all over decide their own leadership.  Well if the second sentence is his wish than he should be praising Bush for leading the charge for Demcracy around the world. 

Yet the party hack this clown is just won't do it.

Israel is in big trouble thanks to the likes of him.  I digress....
Power User
Posts: 42467

« Reply #163 on: April 09, 2011, 08:24:14 PM »

Eastern Baghdad is Mookie Sadr territory, yes?  I read his point is to stop hit burbles coming out of some in the White House about extending the stay of the US Army in Iraq.  The US staying longer than promised would be a huge red flag to several powerful groups in Iraq besides Sadr.

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« Reply #164 on: April 09, 2011, 08:29:45 PM »

Given the general chaos and ineptitude from this white house, it's hard to say if keeping troops in Iraq longer is actually a plan or not.
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« Reply #165 on: April 13, 2011, 12:34:00 PM »

WASHINGTON—Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pressed Arab leaders on Tuesday to accelerate economic and political reforms to meet the growing demands of their publics, but refrained from calling for rulers in Yemen, Bahrain and Syria to step down.

Mrs. Clinton's comments illustrate the selective approach the Obama administration continues to employ in responding to the political uprisings that have surged across the Middle East and North Africa since January.

The secretary of state has aggressively called for the resignations of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and Egypt's Hosni Mubarak in recent months, but suggested to Tuesday's gathering of Arab and American policy makers that other Arab rulers might still play a role in their countries' futures if they embrace political and economic liberalization.

"We know that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn't make sense in such a diverse region at such a fluid time," Mrs. Clinton told the U.S.-Islamic World Forum. "Going forward, the United States will be guided by careful consideration of all the circumstances on the ground and by our consistent values and interests."

The calls for democratic change in Bahrain and Yemen have placed Washington in a diplomatic bind, as both countries' leaders have provided significant cooperation in combating terrorism and the regional influence of Iran.

Bahrain hosts the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, which patrols the oil-rich Persian Gulf. And Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has allowed the U.S. to conduct airstrikes inside his country against suspected al Qaeda members.

Still, Bahrain and Yemen have both launched bloody crackdowns on their political oppositions in recent weeks. The relatively subdued U.S. response has drawn criticism from human-rights activists who accuse Washington of employing a double standard in the region.

Mrs. Clinton said the U.S. would continue to press the governments in Manama and San'a to liberalize, but also said they could be part of the solution.

"The United States has a decades-long friendship with Bahrain that we expect to continue long into the future," Mrs. Clinton said. "We have made clear that security alone cannot resolve the challenges facing Bahrain."

The Obama administration also has been restrained in calling for leadership change in Syria, despite President Bashar al-Assad's significant role in challenging U.S. interests in the Mideast. Mr. Assad is Iran's closest Arab ally and directly arms and funds militant groups Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Palestinian territories.

In recent weeks, Syrian security forces have killed hundreds of anti-Assad protesters, according to human-rights groups. But Mrs. Clinton was careful in her speech Tuesday not to suggest that Washington is seeking Mr. Assad's ouster. Privately, U.S. officials have voiced concerns that the Syrian leader's fall could lead to sectarian strife.

"President Assad and the Syrian government must respect the universal rights of the Syrian people, who are rightly demanding the basic freedoms that they have been denied," she said.

Mrs. Clinton praised the revolutions that have toppled the decades-old dictatorships in Tunisia and Egypt. But sShe stressed that both countries must continue with political and economic changes to ensure their political transitions breed democratic governments that meet the needs of their young, rapidly growing populations. She specifically cited the need for the emerging systems to embrace free markets, combat extremism and promote the rights of women and religious minorities.

"The United States will work with people and leaders across the region to create more open, dynamic and diverse economies," Mrs. Clinton said.

Washington's top diplomat said the Obama administration will increasingly provide financial and technical assistance to help Mideast countries transition to democracy. She said a fund has already been created, with $150 million already committed to assisting Egypt. The U.S.'s Overseas Private Investment Corp. has also committed $2 billion to support private-sector investments in the region, Mrs. Clinton said.

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« Reply #166 on: April 21, 2011, 01:52:43 PM »

Worth noting here IMHO is that the rationale for our efforts in Afpakia of preventing the return of AQ training bases for attacks upon the American homeland, is in tatters.  AQ now establishes training bases in Yemen, the Horn of Africa, (and with the help of President Baraq in Libya too?-- though this remains to be seen).  If we are not going to go in and stop them all (and I suspect no one here is calling for boots on the ground in Yemen!) then what is the point of going into just one (Afpakia)?

Our strategy is utterly incoherent.

Those who wish to comment on this point should please do so either on the US Foreign Policy thread or the Middle East/SNAFU thread.

I wish I had some pity and/or snarky comment, but the cold hard fact is that our attempt to drain the swamps has become pretty much impossible with the "Caliphatezation" of the middle east and our economic decline.
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« Reply #167 on: April 21, 2011, 02:12:12 PM »

April 21, 2011
Iran, Nukes, and China's Inroads to the Middle East: What's Next Mr. President?
By Reza Kahlili

With the Middle East in an uproar, the roles being played by Iran and China are of utmost importance to our national security, economy, and global stability.  It is imperative that Americans grasp the significance of this.

President Obama's simple approach to dealing with the Iranian nuclear bomb program was to extend a hand toward the radical mullahs ruling Iran hoping to appease them.  Clearly, he thought an apology for what America stands for would motivate the Iranian leaders to change their behavior and find a resolution that would solve our differences.  He turned his back on millions of Iranians who took to the streets in protest, legitimizing this very barbaric regime -- a regime that has raped, tortured, and executed tens of thousands of brave Iranians and deprived them of their aspirations for freedom and democracy.

The Iranians instead, once again, outmaneuvered and deceived the Obama administration by promising cooperation.  Instead, they bought time to continue their nuclear enrichment to where they now have over 8000 pounds of enriched uranium -- enough for three nuclear bombs.

Today it is quite clear that President Obama's policies vis-à-vis Iran's nuclear program have failed.  The negotiations have not worked and the sanctions have proven to be a dismal disaster.

As a result of Obama's obvious weakness, many countries such as Germany, India, Venezuela, China, and others are openly collaborating with the regime by providing backdoor financial channels, arms, and even nuclear material.

The Iranian leaders have detected total confusion, weakness, and incompetence from the White House and have picked up their activities.  Iranian agents, who have long infiltrated the region, are helping to incite uprisings in Bahrain, Yemen, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt, and other countries in the Middle East.  As I revealed recently, there is a secret documentary, "The Coming is Upon Us," which will be distributed shortly in the Middle East among the Muslim population, that is calling for the unification of Arabs, the overthrow of U.S.-backed governments, and promising the destruction of Israel and the demise of the U.S.

Just in the last couple of months, many shipments of arms and explosives have been confiscated by authorities in Turkey, Israel, and others destined for Syria, Hezb'allah, Hamas, Taliban, and North Africa.  Also several ships containing nuclear material destined for Iran have been confiscated in South Korea, Singapore, and Malaysia, where two containers were confiscated carrying material used for weapons of mass destruction and nuclear armaments.  Interestingly, the parts were labeled as boiler parts and loaded in those containers at a port in China!

China, also sensing the weakness of the Obama administration, is helping Iran with its nuclear program exactly as they did with Pakistan with their nuclear bomb.  Pakistan recently announced that with the help of China, they were building more nuclear plants, making them the fourth largest nuclear state by the end of this decade.

Reports indicate that the Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov has warned that the recent China and Pakistan strategic agreements are a signal to China's ambitions regarding the vital energy resources of the Middle East.  This new strategic agreement between the two allows China access to the Karakoram Highway and therefore its reach to the Arabian Sea.  Other reports indicate that even Saudi Arabia and some other Gulf countries have turned to China because of Obama's apparent confusion in dealing with the current crisis in the Middle East.

While China and Iran share a common goal, which is the demise of America's supremacy in the region, they differ on the outcome.  China believes, for the first time in a long time, it has been provided a grand opportunity to access the Middle East, secure its energy source, and become the next superpower of the world.

However, the Iranian leaders, who say the destruction of America and the West is at hand, are quite excited about the recent events in the Middle East and believe that the overthrow of U.S.-backed governments are just around the corner.  Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stated just days ago: "Expect more events in the region soon," and on the nuclear issue he went on to say, "And now, after eight years of pressure, the Islamic Iran has won out."

The Iranian leaders today, more than any time in the past, believe that the conditions are prime for the End of Times as predicted in the centuries-old Hadith; that the last Messiah, the Shiites' 12th Imam, Imam Mahdi, will return as promised opening the way for Islam's conquest throughout the world.  But, they also fervently believe that in order for that to happen, Israel must be wiped off the face of the earth.

It is quite clear that we live in very dangerous times and unless and until our leaders grasp the reality of the events taking place in the Middle East and the world, U.S. supremacy and superiority will be lost for decades to come, perhaps never to recover.  Millions of lives could be lost and the world could suffer destruction and depression worse than anything in recent memory!

Reza Kahlili is a pseudonym for an ex-CIA spy who requires anonymity for safety reasons.  He is the author of A Time to Betray, a book about his double life as a CIA agent in Iran's Revolutionary Guards, published by Threshold Editions, Simon & Schuster.

Page Printed from: at April 21, 2011 - 02:10:46 PM CDT
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« Reply #168 on: April 21, 2011, 02:27:19 PM »

"If we are not going to go in and stop them all (and I suspect no one here is calling for boots on the ground in Yemen!) then what is the point of going into just one (Afpakia)?

Our strategy is utterly incoherent."

I suppose the answer is that we pick our battles to isolate and defeat enemies on our choice of time and location.  All-out war simultaneous in all locations may not fit our strengths and capabilities very well much less fit with our limited attention span.  Problem is a) we are doing the opposite, responding to nuisances in the least strategic areas (Libya), and completely out of the most crucial areas, and b) we have lost confidence in those who make the choices and set the strategies for us.

If we are forcing them to move, our intelligence at some point should be picking up some of those moves.  But that matters only if we take action on the intelligence.

What is strangest about our AfPak strategy is that what is working (allegedly), the tripling of manpower, is what we have pre-decided and declared we won't continue.  What we might need most in the long run is at least a small permanent presence to shut down bases as they pop up.  That is something we gave up completely in Iraq. (see links below)

My central strategy (broken record, and GM just hit this same point) is that we better get our economic house in order and in full gear if we expect to be able to respond later to what is brewing in the world right now.  

Yemen looks like one of those backyard situations for Saudi, just like the Caucasus for Russia, but I have no idea whether Saudi escalation would help or hurt the situation.

A nice review(a must read?) at the links below of all our wars and where they stand now, part 1 and part 2:
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« Reply #169 on: May 01, 2011, 09:24:35 AM »

Ya quoted (I think he has offered superb insight) on the Afghanistan-Pakistan forum,
"Initially, the American thinking was that an India-Pak nuclear exchange while undesirable, was without risk to the US and so the US  turned a blind eye to Chinese proliferation support to Pak. Today, the thinking on Indian defense sites is that the jihadis hate the US and Israel more than they hate India (infact polls show that). Anytime the pakis hate someone more than India, that's a major the nukes may come back and bite us in the US and not India. I for one dont doubt the plausibility of the scenario."

I think this is just one more example of the cost to America for our unbridled support for Israel.  Petraeus said the same thing.

I'm not saying whether we should change or not; just appreciate the very high price we have to pay and don't be in denial.
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« Reply #170 on: May 01, 2011, 10:27:49 AM »

A) Citation on the Petraeus quote?

B)  I'd say the Paks are more pissed that we told them after 911 we would bomb them back to the stone age if they didn't cooperate with us against AQ and the Taliban and that we regularly intrude upon their sovereignty, yet somehow the Jews get blamed  tongue , , ,  Anyone blaming the Taiwanese for troubles in our relations with China?  Anyone blaming the South Koreans for our troubles with the North Koreans?
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« Reply #171 on: May 01, 2011, 10:34:03 AM »

So, if we officially abandoned Israel tomorrow, what happens then, JDN?
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« Reply #172 on: May 01, 2011, 10:57:25 AM »

A) Citation on the Petraeus quote?

B)  I'd say the Paks are more pissed that we told them after 911 we would bomb them back to the stone age if they didn't cooperate with us against AQ and the Taliban and that we regularly intrude upon their sovereignty, yet somehow the Jews get blamed  tongue , , ,  Anyone blaming the Taiwanese for troubles in our relations with China?  Anyone blaming the South Koreans for our troubles with the North Koreans?

Petraeus?  I posted it before on this forum; I'm sure you can find it. If I remember he was testifying before Congress and commented on the price America pays for loyalty to Israel.

As for your explanation of the Pak issue; I think Ya has good insight.  But, I think you could replace the word Pak and replace it with any one of many countries, the resentment and hatred of America because of our unwavering association with Israel is the same.

As for the Taiwanese and Koreans, well, they are all either Chinese or Koreans.  It's like the West German East German division years ago; it's different than the Israeli issue. 
Also, I do think our relationship with Taiwan does strain our relationship with China.  Again, like Israel, I am not commenting here if that is good or bad; nor am I advocating abandoning Israel, I am
merely pointing out we pay a price far above the dollars we send and need to recognize that cost in the equation.

Again, my point is not that we should or shouldn't support Israel or Taiwan, but that we appreciate the intangible high cost.
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« Reply #173 on: May 01, 2011, 11:02:47 AM »

"But, I think you could replace the word Pak and replace it with any one of many countries, the resentment and hatred of America because of our unwavering association with Israel is the same."

They hate us because we are disgusting kafirs. We don't beat our women into burkas, we have freedom instead on being "slaves of allah" and we eat pork. Israel is the small satan, we are the great satan. They will not be content until the world bows before islam.
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« Reply #174 on: May 01, 2011, 12:48:34 PM »

"So, if we officially abandoned Israel tomorrow, what happens then...?"

What is the answer to that?  I suppose a race by Iran, Syria, Egypt, and who knows who else, to see who can destroy Israel first.  Israel would fight back and win for a while, but Israel can't withstand as many casualties and would lose in the end.  The regional cooperation in that destruction might lead to some kind of Caliphate that we fear along with a lot of enegy and confidence to keep going.  Would we really just sit out while that happens in the name of ... peace?? We wouldn't even go in for evacuations?  Unarmed, getting shot at?  If we were morally neutral about the destruction of Israel (I hope we aren't!), the question still remains - would they (the Islamic militarists/extemists/jihadists) still hate us and attack us all they can for at least another century?  The answer is yes, I think we know that.  If yes, then that extra intangible cost for our support of Israel is nil.

And then what, with Israel off the table, for US foreign policy?  Then we sit down without preconditions? Argue for sanctions at the U.N.?  Hope they don't want western Europe next? (They do!)  Abandon Europe next?  Then they will like us?  Or draw the line there instead and start over?

I look forward to hearing a different, plausible scenario, I but I say that idea doesn't work, isn't an option, and wouldn't make us safer.  The issue is not whether to support Israel, only how best to do that.
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« Reply #175 on: May 01, 2011, 01:17:08 PM »

Moving right along... This was an interview I found interesting of Hugh Hewitt with the author of th New Yorker's current piece on the Obama administration's foreign poliy, called "The Consequentialist':

New Yorker's Ryan Lizza On Barack Obama Foreign Policy, The Consequentialist
Tuesday, April 26, 2011

HH: I am also talking foreign policy today with Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post, and my guest right now, Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker, whose piece, The Consequentialist in the new New Yorker is turning a lot of heads and causing a lot of comment. Ryan, welcome back, it’s great to have you. ... I have been through this article twice now. And I am completely amazed that you got what you got here, and that the White House hasn’t blown up your car. What is the reaction to this piece?

RL: This is, the reaction is fascinating, because I think perhaps liberals see one thing in this piece, and conservatives see another. And I imagine you’re going to want to talk about this phrase, “leading from behind.”

HH: Yes, in the very last paragraph of the piece. Explain to people how proud they are of leading from behind.

RL: Well Hugh, I think it’s an easy phrase to poke fun of, right?

HH: Right.

RL: Because it’s this paradox, leading from behind, ha ha ha. We don’t want a president who leads from behind. We want a president who leads. And that’s been the tenor of a lot of the commentary about that quote, especially on the right, that there can’t be any such thing as leading from behind. And just before I got on the show, I was writing a blog on it about this, maybe helping explain this concept in a little bit more detail. And I agree that as a political slogan, as I point out in the piece, you know, not the greatest phrase in the world. But the context this came up in is the Obama administration’s response to Libya, okay? And I think you have to look carefully at what they did in Libya to understand why this was their strategy. We went to war, and we are at war, in another Muslim country. Now how do you get the world to go along with the United States wanting to bomb another Muslim country? Do you do it just unilaterally? Does the President just get up and say hey, I want Gaddafi gone, we’re sending in the bombs right now? Or do you work through multilateral institutions, and try to get the U.N. to back you, try and get Arab support, and try not to have the whole effort branded as an American-led enterprise, because you know that that will be used against us in some, in many quarters of the world? And if you look really, really carefully at what they did in Libya, it was essentially a massive bait and switch. The Arab League, and some other Arab states, said oh, yeah, we want a no-fly zone. Well, the no-fly zone was the option on the table at the United Nations. It was the resolution that was proposed by Lebanon, the U.K., and the French. And what Obama did at the very last second, and I think this has really been missed in a lot of the reporting on what went down over Libya, at the last second, they said no, a no-fly zone won’t do anything to save Benghazi, because there are no Libyan planes about to bomb Benghazi, there are tanks on the ground, so what we need is a resolution that gives full authorization for military intervention in Libya. And so essentially the Obama administration very quietly asked for a more hawkish, a more militaristic resolution, and they got it.

HH: But you know, Ryan, if that was…

RL: And I go through all of that, Hugh, just to say that if the way that they got that was by playing down their own role in it, then you have to judge it on the terms of the outcome rather than on the style of leadership.

HH: Well, if they had intended to get there, you have a pretty good argument. But what emerges from The Consequentialist is incoherence, schizophrenia, an up/down, almost manic-depressive engagement with the world. And what really is powerfully condemning of the Obama administration is the light you throw on their Iranian policy, or actually the failure of Iranian policy. And I think buried in The Consequentialist is one revelation that some of Obama’s White House aides regretted having stood idly by why the Iranian regime brutally repressed the Green Revolution. And more than standing idly by, they rebuked the State Department young guy for getting involved with the Twitter controversy. It confirms every conservative’s critique of President Obama’s indifference to the smashing of the Green Revolution. I think that’s one of the huge takeaways of your piece.

RL: I agree. I agree that that’s…to me, that was a very important part of the piece, and to really spell out how there was a major shift in policy. And as they moved from engagement, and almost a certain amount of respect for the Iranian regime, as that whole policy really got upended by the Green Revolution, there is quite a bit, several of his advisors realize and will admit that yeah, they got that wrong, that to the extent that they…now let me explain…from their point of view, their explanation is well, it was really about, the policy of non-interference with the protestors was really about making sure that the regime couldn’t use the U.S. involvement to sort of discredit them. And look, there’s something to be said for that. You have to be careful about the effects. But they, there was regret over that, and I think that’s why when it came to Egypt, they tried to strike a different balance. And you’re absolutely right. I was very surprised to find that this young guy, Jared Cohen, who unilaterally, essentially all by himself, contacted Twitter, and told them to delay a scheduled maintenance upgrade so that the Iranians could continue to use Twitter. It was a very controversial, I mean, inside, someone at the White House referred to it as, when I asked about it, they said oh yeah, you’re talking about Twittergate, right?

HH: You see, that’s quite good reporting. I’m curious, how did you get this much access, because you were with Hillary in Tunis, you were with her in Cairo. You obviously talked to Donilon, you quote him here, and that’s one of the freighted quotes in this piece about we’re over-weighted in the Middle East, and underweighted in China and Asia. And I thought to myself, that’s just perfect gibberish from the new age nonsensical people. But how did they, why did they say yes to you on these requests?

RL: Well look, I think when you’re going in and you’re saying I’m going to do a lengthy review of your foreign policy, and I want you to explain it to me, they have an incentive to explain it. And so they were all, at various parts of the administration, they were very willing to sit down, you know, and talk about this stuff.

HH: Hillary? I mean, when you’re talking, when you’re having breakfast with her, I think it’s in Tunis?

RL: Yes.

HH: And she kind of implores you, what’s the standard? I can just see her saying what am I going to do? I can’t go everywhere in the world.

RL: Well, yeah, and I thought that was a very revealing moment.

HH: It was.

RL: …because she was saying like look, these cases are hard. You can’t, if you, you know, there’s a lot of bad stuff happening in the world. And she pointed out at that point Congo and Cote d’Ivoire, and we can’t intervene everywhere. And I think her point was, you know, what she said is part of her job is to try and build an international consensus to do something about these problems. And that was her point about Libya, is you’ve got to get consensus from the actors in the region. There is this sense in the Obama administration that the U.S. can’t do everything. And I’ll tell you, Hugh, on the right, I think we’re, I think folks in America are sort of schizophrenic about this, because on the one hand, we feel somehow if the U.S. isn’t leading the charge on a big international issue, we feel like you know, that’s not right, we’re supposed to lead on every issue. On the other hand, you talk to a lot of people who think well, why should be bear all the burdens? And I saw that, I saw both of those arguments among conservatives as we went back and forth about what to do in Libya, right?

HH: Right.

RL: Some people saying how are we letting Sarkozy lead this effort, and other people saying you know, why are we getting involved at all.

HH: Well, it’s the Scowcroft-Cheney divide in the Republican Party.

RL: Yes.

HH: But what got me about this piece that’s communicated so well is that the Secretary of State would tell you, however widely regarded you are as a reporter, Ryan, that the biggest problem in the administration is that they don’t have a rule yet articulated. She’s telling you this on the record. It confirms for me they really don’t know what they’re doing, and that the Department of State and the White House are at loggerheads with each other.

RL: Well, I think that they don’t have a…look, Obama himself has said this pretty clearly in some of the TV interviews he did after the Libyan intervention. He said that this doesn’t mean that there’s a new doctrine being laid down about when we do and don’t intervene. And you know, there’s a school of foreign policy thinking that doctrines are the worst thing for a president, because once you have some doctrine, you are straightjacketed when presented with a new crisis or threat. And you know, I think there’s a reluctance by Obama to sort of lay down something that everyone will call a doctrine, because you want to, frankly, as president, you want to have the flexibility to be inconsistent, right? You want to have the flexibility to do something in Libya, and maybe not in Bahrain or Saudi Arabia.

HH: Or Iran or Syria, where we’re getting standing idly by 2.0 underway right now in Syria.
- -    -   -
HH: A couple of other aspects I can’t cover, it’s a very long article, I’ve linked it at, Ryan Lizza. The President sends a memo out on August 12, 2010, saying you know, we really have got to take a look at these Middle Eastern regimes ruled by autocrats. Things could go wrong there. So he gets a little working group together which reports back the day before Tunisia falls apart. Good timing, that, eh?

RL: Well look, you could look at this…one way to look at that is hey, they were still debating these issues when the Middle East exploded. But another way to look at it is they realized that things weren’t going well in the Middle East. They realized that there were limits to their approach, they’ve realized that Iran policy got short-circuited by the Green Revolution, although remember, Hugh, they did get sanctions on Iran. That was a pretty big step, and they got the Security Council to support sanctions on Iran, so that’s not nothing. And you know, they realized that with elections in Egypt and a few other places coming up, that it was time to look anew at U.S. policy in the Middle East. And Obama basically wanted to know was it now more in our interest to support a bold, political reform message in the Middle East. And that was what that group was discussing.

HH: But you know, Ryan, I’m a member of a faculty, a law school faculty.

RL: Yeah.

HH: So I know what faculty meetings are like. And there are a lot of smart people talking, talking, talking.

RL: Yeah.

HH: In fact, at one point in your piece, you write about all the earnest, young women and men over at the Department of State, talking about Facebook revolutions, and globalization, and they’re talking over at the White House, and they’re having these seminars. Meanwhile, the world is rushing past them. And I’m sure they’re talking about Syria right now, but they don’t have anything to do about it, do they?

RL: You know, I haven’t done enough reporting about Syria to really know. And the issue has obviously gotten much, much more intense over the last few days when Assad has just decided that he’s, you know, he’s going to do anything it takes to stay in power. What are the options in Syria, though, right? I mean, we don’t have leverage with Assad. We had a lot of leverage with Mubarak. It’s one of the cases for engagement with bad guys, is when they get, when they’re at their worst, you at least have some leverage. And one of the things we did with Mubarak is we very strongly sent the message that violence against the protestors was a red line that he shouldn’t cross.

HH: But Ryan…

RL: Whether the U.S. is responsible for him holding back or not, I don’t know. But I’m just saying in Syria, we don’t have a lot of great options, right? Our influence is extremely limited.

HH: No, but in your piece, I mean, the Egyptian reporting is fascinating, because yeah, we sent that message, and we sent a bunch of other messages as well, and then we sent Wisner, and they threw Wisner under the bus, or as he said, to the reelection committee. And at one point, you’re downstairs, the Secretary of State’s upstairs, and there are a bunch of Muslim Brotherhood guys who won’t go upstairs, because they prefer Obama’s policy to that of the Secretary of State. That is in one anecdote the definition of incoherence in a foreign policy, isn’t it?

RL: I disagree. Your takeaway from some of these anecdotes is probably a little bit different than mine. So my view of, so this was a meeting for Egyptian activists. Two of them were sort of self-described moderates or liberals, one of them is a Marxist, and one is Muslim Brotherhood. And they all boycotted Hillary Clinton’s meeting because of something she said very early on in the protests. She said that the Mubarak regime is stable, or Mubarak government is stable. They all remembered that stable comment, and it really pissed them off. And they wouldn’t meet with her over it. Interestingly, I asked the Muslim Brotherhood guy if he would meet with Obama, and his face lit up and said yes. So Hugh, just think about that for a second. On the one hand, it gets at this sort of split between Hillary and Obama. But it’s a split in their perceptions of the two of them. In other words, they thought that Obama was on their side. This is a guy…and isn’t that what we want? We want the guys in the Muslim Brotherhood to think you know what, the U.S. has a president that in some way I can relate to. I don’t see that as a negative. I see that in some ways as a positive.

HH: I’m pretty sure my pal, Frank Gaffney, would say the Muslim Brotherhood is thinking that this guy is a patsy, and we can play him like a rube, and therefore, we’re not going to deal with the tough lady upstairs. We’re going to wait for Obama to wilt under the pressure of public opinion, and his perceived need to be liked by quasi-revolutionary movements.

RL: No, but my view of what they were telling me, and remember, it wasn’t just the Muslim Brotherhood. It was the guys from a selfish U.S. perspective, that you want to see succeed in Egypt. It was the moderates. It was the guys who, the non-religious moderates. They…and remember, all these guys were on the same side. It’s the same anti-Mubarak side. They’re all starting to divide and split and form parties and oppose each other. But for that one moment in Tahrir Square, they were all on the same side, right? So the Muslim Brotherhood guys and the liberals we want to succeed, were all trying to oust Mubarak together. And so where they agreed was that they thought that President Obama was more on the side of the protestors than on the side of Mubarak. And you know, I think the White House very skillfully maneuvered Obama into that sort of public position, even though behind the scenes, things were a lot more complicated with the whole Wisner episode, as you point out.

HH: Let me close by talking about the one passage which really jumped out, and it jumped out because it echoed, I had Mitt Romney on the program, oh, about a week ago, blasting President Obama. I had Tim Pawlenty on yesterday.

RL: Yeah, I saw that. I didn’t see Romney, but I read the Pawlenty excerpt.

HH: Yeah.

RL: He didn’t totally take the bait on the leading from behind, though.

HH: Oh, he was getting there. I ran out of time, though. But he did love the Zbigniew Brzezinski piece, where you quote Zbig as saying about the President, I don’t think he really has a policy that’s implementing his insights and understanding. The rhetoric is always terribly imperative and categorical. You must do this, he must do that, this is unacceptable. Brzezinski added, he doesn’t strategize, he sermonizes. That’s almost verbatim from Romney’s critique eight or nine days ago, and may become a meme along with leading from behind, Ryan Lizza. What are they saying about your piece? Are they happy with it?

RL: I don’t know. Frankly, I haven’t talked to many people in the administration since it’s come out. But you know, all you can do is…

HH: Write what you hear.

RL: Yeah, write what you hear, be fair, but also be tough. It’s our job, to maintain some critical distance.

HH: Was there much conversation about Israel at all? Because it’s not here.

RL: There was some. Hey look, there was some, and look, Zbig, I think Zbig, I didn’t detail this, but I think Zbig Brzezinski’s big issue is Israel. I think he thinks that Obama has mishandled Israel, and has retreated from a policy that Zbig was encouraging, that is to be a little bit tougher on Israel. And so I think that’s part of Zbig’s concern. But in general, as the quote you read suggests, Zbig thinks there’s a gap between the words and actions of the administration.

HH: Ryan Lizza, great piece, thanks for joining me on it. The Consequentialist is in the latest issue of the New York, how the Arab spring remade Obama’s foreign policy. And you’ve got to read it a couple of times. I think you’ll, I know every Republican presidential candidate is going over it and reading it with a fine-toothed comb, as I suspect the House Foreign Affairs Committee will be, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
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« Reply #176 on: May 10, 2011, 03:23:35 PM »

There are assertions in here which are not self-apparent to me; regardless it is a thought provoking piece:

U.S.-Pakistani Relations Beyond Bin Laden
May 10, 2011

By George Friedman

The past week has been filled with announcements and speculations on how Osama bin Laden was killed and on Washington’s source of intelligence. After any operation of this sort, the world is filled with speculation on sources and methods by people who don’t know, and silence or dissembling by those who do.

Obfuscating on how intelligence was developed and on the specifics of how an operation was carried out is an essential part of covert operations. The precise process must be distorted to confuse opponents regarding how things actually played out; otherwise, the enemy learns lessons and adjusts. Ideally, the enemy learns the wrong lessons, and its adjustments wind up further weakening it. Operational disinformation is the final, critical phase of covert operations. So as interesting as it is to speculate on just how the United States located bin Laden and on exactly how the attack took place, it is ultimately not a fruitful discussion. Moreover, it does not focus on the truly important question, namely, the future of U.S.-Pakistani relations.

Posturing Versus a Genuine Breach
It is not inconceivable that Pakistan aided the United States in identifying and capturing Osama bin Laden, but it is unlikely. This is because the operation saw the already-tremendous tensions between the two countries worsen rather than improve. The Obama administration let it be known that it saw Pakistan as either incompetent or duplicitous and that it deliberately withheld plans for the operation from the Pakistanis. For their part, the Pakistanis made it clear that further operations of this sort on Pakistani territory could see an irreconcilable breach between the two countries. The attitudes of the governments profoundly affected the views of politicians and the public, attitudes that will be difficult to erase.

Posturing designed to hide Pakistani cooperation would be designed to cover operational details, not to lead to significant breaches between countries. The relationship between the United States and Pakistan ultimately is far more important than the details of how Osama bin Laden was captured, but both sides have created a tense atmosphere that they will find difficult to contain. One would not sacrifice strategic relationships for the sake of operational security. Therefore, we have to assume that the tension is real and revolves around the different goals of Pakistan and the United States.

A break between the United States and Pakistan holds significance for both sides. For Pakistan, it means the loss of an ally that could help Pakistan fend off its much larger neighbor to the east, India. For the United States, it means the loss of an ally in the war in Afghanistan. Whether the rupture ultimately occurs, of course, depends on how deep the tension goes. And that depends on what the tension is over, i.e., whether the tension ultimately merits the strategic rift. It also is a question of which side is sacrificing the most. It is therefore important to understand the geopolitics of U.S.-Pakistani relations beyond the question of who knew what about bin Laden.

From Cold to Jihadist War
U.S. strategy in the Cold War included a religious component, namely, using religion to generate tension within the Communist bloc. This could be seen in the Jewish resistance in the Soviet Union, in Roman Catholic resistance in Poland and, of course, in Muslim resistance to the Soviets in Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, it took the form of using religious Islamist militias to wage a guerrilla war against Soviet occupation. A three-part alliance involving the Saudis, the Americans and the Pakistanis fought the Soviets. The Pakistanis had the closest relationships with the Afghan resistance due to ethnic and historical bonds, and the Pakistani intelligence service, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), had built close ties with the Afghans.

As frequently happens, the lines of influence ran both ways. The ISI did not simply control Islamist militants, but instead many within the ISI came under the influence of radical Islamist ideology. This reached the extent that the ISI became a center of radical Islamism, not so much on an institutional level as on a personal level: The case officers, as the phrase goes, went native. As long as the U.S. strategy remained to align with radical Islamism against the Soviets, this did not pose a major problem. However, when the Soviet Union collapsed and the United States lost interest in the future of Afghanistan, managing the conclusion of the war fell to the Afghans and to the Pakistanis through the ISI. In the civil war that followed the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, the United States played a trivial role. It was the ISI in alliance with the Taliban — a coalition of Afghan and international Islamist fighters who had been supported by the United States, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan — that shaped the future of Afghanistan.

The U.S.- Islamist relationship was an alliance of convenience for both sides. It was temporary, and when the Soviets collapsed, Islamist ideology focused on new enemies, the United States chief among them. Anti-Soviet sentiment among radical Islamists soon morphed into anti-American sentiment. This was particularly true after the Iraqi Invasion of Kuwait and Desert Storm. The Islamists perceived the U.S. occupation and violation of Saudi territorial integrity as a religious breach. Therefore, at least some elements of international Islamism focused on the United States; al Qaeda was central among these elements. Al Qaeda needed a base of operations after being expelled from Sudan, and Afghanistan provided the most congenial home. In moving to Afghanistan and allying with the Taliban, al Qaeda inevitably was able to greatly expand its links with Pakistan’s ISI, which was itself deeply involved with the Taliban.

After 9/11, Washington demanded that the Pakistanis aid the United States in its war against al Qaeda and the Taliban. For Pakistan, this represented a profound crisis. On the one hand, Pakistan badly needed the United States to support it against what it saw as its existential enemy, India. On the other hand, Islamabad found it difficult to rupture or control the intimate relationships, ideological and personal, that had developed between the ISI and the Taliban, and by extension with al Qaeda to some extent. In Pakistani thinking, breaking with the United States could lead to strategic disaster with India. However, accommodating the United States could lead to unrest, potential civil war and even collapse by energizing elements of the ISI and supporters of Taliban and radical Islamism in Pakistan.

The Pakistani Solution
The Pakistani solution was to appear to be doing everything possible to support the United States in Afghanistan, with a quiet limit on what that support would entail. That limit on support set by Islamabad was largely defined as avoiding actions that would trigger a major uprising in Pakistan that could threaten the regime. Pakistanis were prepared to accept a degree of unrest in supporting the war but not to push things to the point of endangering the regime.

The Pakistanis thus walked a tightrope between demands they provide intelligence on al Qaeda and Taliban activities and permit U.S. operations in Pakistan on one side and the internal consequences of doing so on the other. The Pakistanis’ policy was to accept a degree of unrest to keep the Americans supporting Pakistan against India, but only to a point. So, for example, the government purged the ISI of its overt supporters of radial Islamism, but it did not purge the ISI wholesale nor did it end informal relations between purged intelligence officers and the ISI. Pakistan thus pursued a policy that did everything to appear to be cooperative while not really meeting American demands.

The Americans were, of course, completely aware of the Pakistani limits and did not ultimately object to this arrangement. The United States did not want a coup in Islamabad, nor did it want massive civil unrest. The United States needed Pakistan on whatever terms the Pakistanis could provide help. It needed the supply line through Pakistan from Karachi to the Khyber Pass. And while it might not get complete intelligence from Pakistan, the intelligence it did get was invaluable. Moreover, while the Pakistanis could not close the Afghan Taliban sanctuaries in Pakistan, they could limit them and control their operation to some extent. The Americans were as aware as the Pakistanis that the choice was between full and limited cooperation, but could well be between limited and no cooperation, because the government might well not survive full cooperation. The Americans thus took what they could get.

Obviously, this relationship created friction. The Pakistani position was that the United States had helped create this reality in the 1980s and 1990s. The American position was that after 9/11, the price of U.S. support involved the Pakistanis changing their policies. The Pakistanis said there were limits. The Americans agreed, so the fight was about defining the limits.

The Americans felt that the limit was support for al Qaeda. They felt that whatever Pakistan’s relationship with the Afghan Taliban was, support in suppressing al Qaeda, a separate organization, had to be absolute. The Pakistanis agreed in principle but understood that the intelligence on al Qaeda flowed most heavily from those most deeply involved with radical Islamism. In others words, the very people who posed the most substantial danger to Pakistani stability were also the ones with the best intelligence on al Qaeda — and therefore, fulfilling the U.S. demand in principle was desirable. In practice, it proved difficult for Pakistan to carry out.

The Breakpoint and the U.S. Exit From Afghanistan
This proved the breakpoint between the two sides. The Americans accepted the principle of Pakistani duplicity, but drew a line at al Qaeda. The Pakistanis understood American sensibilities but didn’t want to incur the domestic risks of going too far. This psychological breakpoint cracked open on Osama bin Laden, the Holy Grail of American strategy and the third rail of Pakistani policy.

Under normal circumstances, this level of tension of institutionalized duplicity should have blown the U.S.-Pakistani relationship apart, with the United States simply breaking with Pakistan. It did not, and likely will not for a simple geopolitical reason, one that goes back to the 1990s. In the 1990s, when the United States no longer needed to support an intensive covert campaign in Afghanistan, it depended on Pakistan to manage Afghanistan. Pakistan would have done this anyway because it had no choice: Afghanistan was Pakistan’s backdoor, and given tensions with India, Pakistan could not risk instability in its rear. The United States thus did not have to ask Pakistan to take responsibility for Afghanistan.

The United States is now looking for an exit from Afghanistan. Its goal, the creation of a democratic, pro-American Afghanistan able to suppress radical Islamism in its own territory, is unattainable with current forces — and probably unattainable with far larger forces. Gen. David Petraeus, the architect of the Afghan strategy, has been nominated to become the head of the CIA. With Petraeus departing from the Afghan theater, the door is open to a redefinition of Afghan strategy. Despite Pentagon doctrines of long wars, the United States is not going to be in a position to engage in endless combat in Afghanistan. There are other issues in the world that must be addressed. With bin Laden’s death, a plausible (if not wholly convincing) argument can be made that the mission in AfPak, as the Pentagon refers to the theater, has been accomplished, and therefore the United States can withdraw.

No withdrawal strategy is conceivable without a viable Pakistan. Ideally, Pakistan would be willing to send forces into Afghanistan to carry out U.S. strategy. This is unlikely, as the Pakistanis don’t share the American concern for Afghan democracy, nor are they prepared to try directly to impose solutions in Afghanistan. At the same time, Pakistan can’t simply ignore Afghanistan because of its own national security issues, and therefore it will move to stabilize it.

The United States could break with Pakistan and try to handle things on its own in Afghanistan, but the supply line fueling Afghan fighting runs through Pakistan. The alternatives either would see the United States become dependent on Russia — an equally uncertain line of supply — or on the Caspian route, which is insufficient to supply forces. Afghanistan is war at the end of the Earth for the United States, and to fight it, Washington must have Pakistani supply routes.

The United States also needs Pakistan to contain, at least to some extent, Taliban sanctuaries in Pakistan. The United States is stretched to the limit doing what it is doing in Afghanistan. Opening a new front in Pakistan, a country of 180 million people, is well beyond the capabilities of either forces in Afghanistan or forces in the U.S. reserves. Therefore, a U.S. break with Pakistan threatens the logistical foundation of the war in Afghanistan and poses strategic challenges U.S. forces cannot cope with.

The American option might be to support a major crisis between Pakistan and India to compel Pakistan to cooperate with the United States. However, it is not clear that India is prepared to play another round in the U.S. game with Pakistan. Moreover, creating a genuine crisis between India and Pakistan could have two outcomes. The first involves the collapse of Pakistan, which would create an India more powerful than the United States might want. The second and more likely outcome would see the creation of a unity government in Pakistan in which distinctions between secularists, moderate Islamists and radical Islamists would be buried under anti-Indian feeling. Doing all of this to deal with Afghan withdrawal would be excessive, even if India played along, and could well prove disastrous for Washington.

Ultimately, the United States cannot change its policy of the last 10 years. During that time, it has come to accept what support the Pakistanis could give and tolerated what was withheld. U.S. dependence on Pakistan so long as Washington is fighting in Afghanistan is significant; the United States has lived with Pakistan’s multitiered policy for a decade because it had to. Nothing in the capture of bin Laden changes the geopolitical realities. So long as the United States wants to wage — or end — a war in Afghanistan, it must have the support of Pakistan to the extent that Pakistan is prepared to provide support. The option of breaking with Pakistan because on some level it is acting in opposition to American interests does not exist.

This is the ultimate contradiction in U.S. strategy in Afghanistan and even the so-called war on terror as a whole. The United States has an absolute opposition to terrorism and has waged a war in Afghanistan on the questionable premise that the tactic of terrorism can be defeated, regardless of source or ideology. Broadly fighting terrorism requires the cooperation of the Muslim world, as U.S. intelligence and power is inherently limited. The Muslim world has an interest in containing terrorism, but not the absolute concern the United States has. Muslim countries are not prepared to destabilize their countries in service to the American imperative. This creates deeper tensions between the United States and the Muslim world and increases the American difficulty in dealing with terrorism — or with Afghanistan.

The United States must either develop the force and intelligence to wage war without any assistance — which is difficult to imagine given the size of the Muslim world and the size of the U.S. military — or it will have to accept half-hearted support and duplicity. Alternatively, it could accept that it will not win in Afghanistan and will not be able simply to eliminate terrorism. These are difficult choices, but the reality of Pakistan drives home that these, in fact, are the choices.

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« Reply #177 on: May 10, 2011, 04:58:05 PM »

Pakistan needs to be made an example of, otherwise the lesson to the world is: Use non-state actors to wage mass-casualty terrorism on America and then fund and shelter the terrorists. The worst thing the US will do is kill the non-state actor and cut some funding.
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« Reply #178 on: May 19, 2011, 11:35:15 AM »

WASHINGTON—When President Barack Obama lays out his vision for the Middle East in a speech Thursday, he will also be tacitly drawing attention to another upheaval: Tumult in the Arab world has accelerated a shift in the standing of Washington's foreign-policy power players.

The Obama White House has moved to exert greater civilian control over the military, challenging the views of the top brass in some areas, officials say. At the same time, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's State Department, together with a more assertive White House National Security Council, has taken a lead in crafting America's response to the greatest geopolitical challenge since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Underscoring this shift is Mr. Obama's choice of venue to deliver the address: the State Department. The address Thursday morning—which is late afternoon, Cairo time—will be the president's first major policy address from the home base of U.S. foreign diplomacy.

The military's standing in the White House reflects lingering tensions with some of Mr. Obama's civilian advisers that grew out of a 2009 debate over escalating the war in Afghanistan, according to senior U.S. officials and foreign diplomats.

When popular revolutions began sweeping the Arab world, many in the military, which has been generally cautious about intervention, were reluctant to see longstanding Arab allies, such as Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, pushed out.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates and many military leaders were also particularly cautious about military action in Libya. Some have taken to calling the Libya campaign the "estrogen war" in an implicit critique of Mrs. Clinton and other female administration officials who backed it.

Mrs. Clinton was also an early voice of caution when it came to Egypt. But she moved more quickly to break with autocrats in Yemen and Libya and push for democratic change in Bahrain, while managing to maintain relationships with unhappy Arab allies, U.S. officials say.

Officials in the State Department and the White House, especially those who backed the use of force in Libya, dismiss the estrogen comment as the sexist grousing of military men who lost the argument.

Managing the Turmoil | Some U.S. responses to Arab uprisings
Egypt State Department and Pentagon joined in urging caution about pushing for President Hosni Mubarak's ouster. On peace with Israel, counterterrorism and hostility to Iran, he was a vital U.S. ally. Having invested decades in building ties to the Egyptian army, Pentagon veterans shared Mrs. Clinton's view.

Bahrain The popular uprising in the tiny Persian Gulf sheikdom concerned U.S. military officials, who were fearful of losing their base for the Pentagon's Fifth Fleet, which polices the Gulf, and worried about what might happen if the regime fell. Mrs. Clinton pushed Bahrain to make political changes, chilling relations with Arab states.

Yemen Mrs. Clinton angered President Ali Abdullah Saleh in January by demanding a meeting with activists. In March, Defense Secretary Gates said the Yemeni leader's fate was 'too soon to call,' and praised his government as an ally against al Qaeda. The White House is now pushing Mr. Saleh to resign sooner rather than later.

Libya Mr. Gates, urged caution when considering military intervention. Pentagon officials worried about the department being overstretched. 'This is not a question of whether we or our allies can do this. We can,' Mr. Gates said. 'The question is whether this is a wise thing to do.' The White House chose to proceed.
."Secretary Clinton has become one of the most forceful officials working on the world stage," says Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.), a long-serving member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "Her influence with the president has been enhanced by her stature."

The next test is Syria, where officials across the administration worry the fall of President Bashar al-Assad could unleash sectarian violence. Some aides to Mrs. Clinton, however, see the unrest as an unrivaled opportunity to diminish the power of Syria's ally, Iran, and rewrite the politics of the region.

Mr. Obama is expected to argue Thursday that the death of Osama bin Laden, paired with the popular uprisings, signals the possibility of a new, open and democratic opportunity for a region that is largely the province of entrenched autocrats.

Mr. Obama will also announce an economic aid plan focused on Egypt and Tunisia, according to senior administration officials, including $1 billion in debt relief and $1 billion in loan guarantees for Egypt, the creation of an Egyptian-American enterprise fund to help promote private investment, and a framework for strengthening trade.

Mr. Obama will speak from the State Department's Benjamin Franklin Room. White House officials say the setting embodies the policy shift the president is trying to achieve.

Even as the U.S. pursues "principally military and intelligence efforts" to fight terrorism and build toward an exit from Afghanistan, "the longer future in the Middle East we believe will have a huge diplomatic component to it," said White House spokesman Jay Carney.

That puts the military in a bind. Many in the Pentagon ascribe to what Washington policy wonks call the "realist" theory of foreign policy, which believes in narrowly defined international goals, not reshaping the world. "We take countries as they are, not as we might wish they could be," said a senior military officer working on the Middle East.

Mrs. Clinton is no idealist, but she has sought to build the State Department into a powerful base, and in recent months has made common cause with a younger group of more idealistic White House officials, according to U.S. officials. Senior U.S. officials say the eruption of political revolts across the Middle East at the beginning of 2011 blindsided the administration.

Mrs. Clinton was forced to fashion the administration's first response to the crisis literally on the fly as she toured Persian Gulf states. In a speech in Qatar, she stunned Arab leaders by saying they risked "sinking into the sand" if they didn't change course.

During the first act of the Arab Spring, however, the State Department and Pentagon joined in pressing caution, especially with Egypt, a vital U.S. ally.

For Mrs. Clinton, a turning point came with the uprising in Bahrain, home to the Pentagon's Fifth Fleet, which polices the oil-rich Gulf. The Pentagon was fearful of losing its basing rights and worried about what might happen if the regime fell.

Mrs. Clinton pushed Bahrain for political change. That chilled relations to the point that neither Bahrain nor Saudi Arabia directly notified the White House in March before deploying thousands of Saudi and Emirati troops to shore up its ruling family, according to the U.S.

The State Department believed it was within hours of a breakthrough that could have pushed Bahrain closer to a deal with the political opposition. Mrs. Clinton was livid.

It was the decision to attack Libya that laid bare the new dynamic most starkly. Pentagon officials worried out loud that France and Britain were playing down the difficulty of removing Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. They were outspoken about the limited effectiveness of a no-fly zone and skeptical about the impact of financial sanctions.

The White House and State Department, however, were under pressure from European and Arab allies. The U.S. put forth to allied countries and Arab states preconditions to military action that included a United Nations resolution, Arab participation and drawing up a plan that went beyond a no-fly zone.

Some officials worried Col. Gadhafi's troops would slaughter rebel forces, an echo of the violence in Rwanda and Srebrenica that occurred on President Bill Clinton's watch. "Senior officials all agreed to the pillars of our Libya policy," said a senior aide to Mrs. Clinton. "If all of these became available to us, could we really stand aside?"

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« Reply #179 on: May 24, 2011, 05:52:49 PM »

Some distinct gaps here e.g. that candidate BO sedulously worked to undermine the efforts GF sees him as now supporting but as always an interesting analysis:


May 24, 2011 | 0902 GMT

Obama and the Arab Spring
By George Friedman

U.S. President Barack Obama gave a speech last week on the Middle East. Presidents make many speeches. Some are meant to be taken casually, others are made to address an immediate crisis, and still others are intended to be a statement of broad American policy. As in any country, U.S. presidents follow rituals indicating which category their speeches fall into. Obama clearly intended his recent Middle East speech to fall into the last category, as reflecting a shift in strategy if not the declaration of a new doctrine.

While events in the region drove Obama’s speech, politics also played a strong part, as with any presidential speech. Devising and implementing policy are the president’s job. To do so, presidents must be able to lead — and leading requires having public support. After the 2010 election, I said that presidents who lose control of one house of Congress in midterm elections turn to foreign policy because it is a place in which they retain the power to act. The U.S. presidential campaign season has begun, and the United States is engaged in wars that are not going well. Within this framework, Obama thus sought to make both a strategic and a political speech.

Obama’s War Dilemma
The United States is engaged in a  broad struggle against jihadists. Specifically, it is engaged in a war in Afghanistan and is in the terminal phase of the Iraq war.

The Afghan war is stalemated. Following the death of Osama bin Laden, Obama said that the Taliban’s forward momentum has been stopped. He did not, however, say that the Taliban is being defeated. Given the state of affairs between the United States and Pakistan following bin Laden’s death, whether the United States can defeat the Taliban remains unclear. It might be able to, but the president must remain open to the possibility that the war will become an extended stalemate.

Meanwhile, U.S. troops are being withdrawn from Iraq, but that does not mean the conflict is over. Instead, the withdrawal has opened the door to Iranian power in Iraq. The Iraqis lack a capable military and security force. Their government is divided and feeble. Meanwhile, the Iranians have had years to infiltrate Iraq. Iranian domination of Iraq would open the door to  Iranian power projection throughout the region. Therefore, the United States has proposed keeping U.S. forces in Iraq but has yet to receive Iraq’s approval. If that approval is given (which looks unlikely), Iraqi factions with clout in parliament have threatened to renew the anti-U.S. insurgency.

The United States must therefore consider its actions should the situation in Afghanistan remain indecisive or deteriorate and should Iraq evolve into an Iranian strategic victory. The simple answer — extending the mission in Iraq and increasing forces in Afghanistan — is not viable. The United States could not pacify Iraq with 170,000 troops facing determined opposition, while the 300,000 troops that Chief of Staff of the Army Eric Shinseki argued for in 2003 are not available. Meanwhile, it is difficult to imagine how many troops would be needed to guarantee a military victory in Afghanistan. Such surges are not politically viable, either. After nearly 10 years of indecisive war, the American public has little appetite for increasing troop commitments to either war and has no appetite for conscription.

Obama thus has limited military options on the ground in a situation where conditions in both war zones could deteriorate badly. And his political option — blaming former U.S. President George W. Bush — in due course would wear thin, as Nixon found in blaming Johnson.

The Coalition of the Willing Meets the Arab Spring
For his part, Bush followed a strategy of a coalition of the willing. He understood that the United States could not conduct a war in the region without regional allies, and he therefore recruited a coalition of countries that calculated that radical Islamism represented a profound threat to regime survival. This included Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Jordan, and Pakistan. These countries shared a desire to see al Qaeda defeated and a willingness to pool resources and intelligence with the United States to enable Washington to carry the main burden of the war.

This coalition appears to be fraying. Apart from the tensions between the United States and Pakistan, the unrest in the Middle East of the last few months apparently has undermined the legitimacy and survivability of many Arab regimes, including key partners in the so-called coalition of the willing. If these pro-American regimes collapse and are replaced by anti-American regimes, the American position in the region might also collapse.

Obama appears to have reached three conclusions about the Arab Spring:

It represented a genuine and liberal democratic rising that might replace regimes.
American opposition to these risings might result in the emergence of anti-American regimes in these countries.
The United States must embrace the general idea of the Arab risings but be selective in specific cases; thus, it should support the rising in Egypt, but not necessarily in Bahrain.
Though these distinctions may be difficult to justify in intellectual terms, geopolitics is not an abstract exercise. In the real world, supporting regime change in Libya costs the United States relatively little. Supporting an uprising in Egypt could have carried some cost, but not if the military was the midwife to change and is able to maintain control. (Egypt was more an exercise of regime preservation than true regime change.) Supporting regime change in Bahrain, however, would have proved quite costly. Doing so could have seen the United States lose a major naval base in the Persian Gulf and incited spillover Shiite protests in Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich Eastern Province.

Moral consistency and geopolitics rarely work neatly together. Moral absolutism is not an option in the Middle East, something Obama recognized. Instead, Obama sought a new basis for tying together the fraying coalition of the willing.

Obama’s Challenge and the Illusory Arab Spring
Obama’s conundrum is that there is still much uncertainty as to whether that coalition would be stronger with current, albeit embattled, regimes or with new regimes that could arise from the so-called Arab Spring. He began to address the problem with an empirical assumption critical to his strategy that  in my view is questionable, namely, that there is such a thing as an Arab Spring.

Let me repeat something I have said before: All demonstrations are not revolutions. All revolutions are not democratic revolutions. All democratic revolutions do not lead to constitutional democracy.

The Middle East has seen many demonstrations of late, but that does not make them revolutions. The 300,000 or so demonstrators concentrated mainly in Tahrir Square in Cairo represented a tiny fraction of Egyptian society. However committed and democratic those 300,000 were, the masses of Egyptians did not join them along the lines of what happened in Eastern Europe in 1989 and in Iran in 1979. For all the media attention paid to Egypt’s demonstrators, the most interesting thing in Egypt is not who demonstrated, but the vast majority who did not. Instead, a series of demonstrations gave the Egyptian army cover to carry out what was tantamount to a military coup. The president was removed, but his removal would be difficult to call a revolution.

And where revolutions could be said to have occurred, as in Libya, it is not clear they were democratic revolutions. The forces in eastern Libya remain opaque, and it cannot be assumed their desires represent the will of the majority of Libyans — or that the eastern rebels intend to create, or are capable of creating, a democratic society. They want to get rid of a tyrant, but that doesn’t mean they won’t just create another tyranny.

Then, there are revolutions that genuinely represent the will of the majority, as in Bahrain. Bahrain’s Shiite majority rose up against the Sunni royal family, clearly seeking a regime that truly represents the majority. But it is not at all clear that they want to create a constitutional democracy, or at least not one the United States would recognize as such. Obama said each country can take its own path, but he also made clear that the path could not diverge from basic principles of human rights — in other words, their paths can be different, but they cannot be too different. Assume for the moment that the Bahraini revolution resulted in a democratic Bahrain tightly aligned with Iran and hostile to the United States. Would the United States recognize Bahrain as a satisfactory democratic model?

The central problem from my point of view is that the Arab Spring has consisted of demonstrations of limited influence, in non-democratic revolutions and in revolutions whose supporters would create regimes quite alien from what Washington would see as democratic. There is no single vision to the Arab Spring, and the places where the risings have the most support are the places that will be least democratic, while the places where there is the most democratic focus have the weakest risings.

As important, even if we assume that democratic regimes would emerge, there is no reason to believe they would form a coalition with the United States. In this, Obama seems to side with the neoconservatives, his ideological enemies. Neoconservatives argued that democratic republics have common interests, so not only would they not fight each other, they would band together — hence their rhetoric about creating democracies in the Middle East. Obama seems to have bought into this idea that a truly democratic Egypt would be friendly to the United States and its interests. That may be so, but it is hardly self-evident — and this assumes democracy is a real option in Egypt, which is questionable.

Obama addressed this by saying we must take risks in the short run to be on the right side of history in the long run. The problem embedded in this strategy is that if the United States miscalculates about the long run of history, it might wind up with short-term risks and no long-term payoff. Even if by some extraordinary evolution the Middle East became a genuine democracy, it is the ultimate arrogance to assume that a Muslim country would choose to be allied with the United States. Maybe it would, but Obama and the neoconservatives can’t know that.

But to me, this is an intellectual abstraction. There is no Arab Spring, just some demonstrations accompanied by slaughter and extraordinarily vacuous observers. While the pressures are rising, the demonstrations and risings have so far largely failed, from Egypt, where Hosni Mubarak was replaced by a junta, to Bahrain, where Saudi Arabia by invitation led a contingent of forces to occupy the country, to Syria, where Bashar al Assad continues to slaughter his enemies just like his father did.

A Risky Strategy
Obviously, if Obama is going to call for sweeping change, he must address the Israeli-Palestinian relationship. Obama knows this is the graveyard of foreign policy: Presidents who go into this rarely come out well. But any influence he would have with the Arabs would be diminished if he didn’t try. Undoubtedly understanding the futility of the attempt, he went in, trying to reconcile an Israel that has no intention of returning to thegeopolitically vulnerable borders of 1967 with a Hamas with no intention of publicly acknowledging Israel’s right to exist — with Fatah hanging in the middle. By the weekend, the president was doing what he knew he would do and was switching positions.

At no point did Obama address the question of Pakistan and Afghanistan or the key issue: Iran. There can be fantasies about uprisings in Iran, but 2009 was crushed, and no matter what political dissent there is among the elite, a broad-based uprising is unlikely. The question thus becomes how the United States plans to deal with Iran’s emerging power in the region as the United States withdraws from Iraq.

But Obama’s foray into Israeli-Palestinian affairs was not intended to be serious; rather, it was merely a cover for his broader policy to reconstitute a coalition of the willing. While we understand why he wants this broader policy to revive the coalition of the willing, it seems to involve huge risks that could see a diminished or disappeared coalition. He could help bring down pro-American regimes that are repressive and replace them with anti-American regimes that are equally or even more repressive.

If Obama is right that there is a democratic movement in the Muslim world large enough to seize power and create U.S.-friendly regimes, then he has made a wise choice. If he is wrong and the Arab Spring was simply unrest leading nowhere, then he risks the coalition he has by alienating regimes in places like Bahrain or Saudi Arabia without gaining either democracy or friends.
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« Reply #180 on: May 29, 2011, 03:19:47 PM »
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« Reply #181 on: May 29, 2011, 04:49:30 PM »

Remember when Obama was going to rebuild America's relationships in the world?

As has been pointed out many times, every Obama promise comes with an expiration date.
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« Reply #182 on: May 30, 2011, 05:45:32 PM »

Largely out of touch with the tragedies of war, America sends often principled and self-sacrificing volunteers to suffer and die in our behalf. We call them heroes and salve our consciences in a froth of words. Or, among those of us who will fight only if the Taliban come to Beverly Hills, and probably not even then, congratulate ourselves for being intelligent enough not to volunteer. Then we go about our business, either satisfied that we are appropriately patriotic or assuming that as we face only imagined dangers we need not lose sleep over the unfortunates who pursue them, often unto death, leaving behind broken and grieving families who suffer a pain that never goes away.

On Memorial Day, we pause at the graves of lost soldiers and make speeches that sometimes open to view the heartbreak and love that are their last traces. But this is not enough, because they do not hear, and because those who will have followed in the years to come will not hear. Love is not enough, rationalization not enough, commemoration a thin and insufficient offering. The only just memorial to those who went forth and died for us, and who therefore question us eternally, cannot be of stone or steel or time set aside for speeches and picnics.

We should offer instead a memorial, never ending, of probity and preparation, shared sacrifice, continuing resolve, and the clarity the nation once had in regard to how, where, when, and when not to go to war. This is the least we can do both for America and for the troops we dispatch into worlds of sorrow and death. Once, it came naturally, but no longer, and it must be restored.

First, and despite the times, is the demonstrable fact that throttling defense in the name of economy is economical neither in the long nor the short run. Not if you count the cost of avoidable wars undeterred. Not if you count the cost of major world realignments that lead to overt challenges and adventures. Not if you count the cost—in money, division, demoralization, decline, death, and grief—of lost wars. Is there any doubt that a relatively minor expenditure of money and courage could have kept Germany in its place and prevented the incalculable cost of World War II?

A public that otherwise professes deep loyalty to its troops is in the name of economy stripping down their equipment and resources, making it more likely that they will fight future battles against forces both gratuitously undeterred and against which they may not prevail. This is short sighted, tragic, hardly a memorial, and in fact an irony, in that other than in redeploying a portion of our wealth from luxury to security, military spending has always been a spur to the economy, as history demonstrates and every member of Congress with military facilities or manufactures in his district knows.

Nonetheless, the greatest economy—of lives, money, strategy—is found in neither the diminution nor the accretion of forces but in the wisdom and precision of their deployment and the adoption of feasible goals. It is neither possible nor desirable to build nations while simultaneously trying to conquer them with inadequate force. (Unlike Iraq and Afghanistan, the oft-mentioned counter examples of Germany and Japan had been decisively defeated and were heirs to different traditions of governance.)

And what opponents of the United States could not be delighted that the current administration, in the name of unrealizable ideals, has made a project of destabilizing the whole world by abandoning friendly countries and allies because it is too delicate and self-concerned to tolerate that they are at times unsavory? President Obama would undoubtedly praise this in FDR, but apparently to him the co-operative states and allies he has undermined are neither as warm nor as fuzzy as Stalin.

When in defense of our essential interests we do go to war, not only must we carefully determine war aims—and thus dictate to the enemy the time, place, and nature of battle rather than chasing him into the briar patch of his choosing—but we must accomplish them massively, overwhelmingly, decisively, and, if necessary, ruthlessly. For anything other than minor operations this requires the consent of Congress, a declaration of war, and the clear statement and unflinching prosecution of our objectives. Rapid shocks cost less in lives, ours and theirs, than wars that drag inconclusively for a decade. We must make our enemies understand at the deepest level of apprehension that if we are attacked we will be quick and they will be dead.

We can construct a genuine memorial to the patriot graves in Arlington and thousands of other cemeteries only if we abandon the many illusory and destructive assumptions with which the weakness of the present will burden the future.

We will fail to assure the national security if we assume that we will not be drawn into two wars at once; if we do not provide a surplus of material power; if we believe that "conventional" war is a thing of the past; if in the name of false economy we do not apply our full technological potential to our arsenals; if we imagine that technological advance will carry the day in the absence of strategic clarity and the proven principles of warfare; if we make the armed forces a laboratory for the hobby horses of progressivism; and if our political leaders, very few of whom have studied much less known war, commit our troops promiscuously, in service to tangential ideology, with scatterbrained objectives, and without what Winston Churchill called the "continual stress of soul" necessary for proper decision.

Only the dead have seen the end of war, which will not be eradicated but must be suppressed, managed, and minimized. This cannot be accomplished in the absence of resolution, vigilance, and sacrifice. These are the only fitting memorials to the long ranks of the dead, and what we owe to those who in the absence of our care and devotion are sure to join them.

Mr. Helprin, a senior fellow at the Claremont Institute, is the author of, among
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« Reply #183 on: June 03, 2011, 12:11:21 AM »

Gates and the Pacific: A Historical Strategic Priority

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates left Hawaii for Singapore on Wednesday, bound for the 10th annual Asia Security Summit in Singapore — his last foreign trip before he leaves office at the end of the month. While in Hawaii, Gates signaled that at the summit he will emphasize the long-standing American commitment to the region: “We are a Pacific nation. We will remain a Pacific nation. We will remain engaged.”

This statement does more than reassure allies in the region at a time of personnel transition. It reflects the United States’ historical strategic commitments in the region. As an economic power, American commerce is closely tied to the world’s second- and third-largest economies — China and Japan. As a maritime power, the U.S. Navy has shifted more of its focus to East Asian waters. But while the importance of the Pacific region has grown since the Cold War, it has long been of foundational, fundamental importance to American geopolitical security and grand strategy.

“Rare is the country that does not see its relationship with Washington as at least a hedge against a rising and more assertive Beijing.”
When Gates called the United States “a Pacific nation” Tuesday, he was at the USS Missouri (BB 63), one of the last battleships the Americans built and now a museum at Pearl Harbor. Built and commissioned during World War II, the Missouri shelled Iwo Jima and Okinawa as the United States closed in on the Japanese home islands, and later provided fire support to troops in Korea. Indeed, some 50 years prior to the Missouri’s commissioning, U.S. naval officers began crafting and refining a plan to defeat “orange” — a notional adversary representing imperial Japan. For half a century, debates raged over the defensibility of Guam and ports in the Philippines, over the speed at which a fleet could be assembled to sail for the western Pacific, and what would be required to sustain it in extended combat.

Now, Gates travels to a region that has been neglected amid distraction for the United States in Afghanistan and Iraq. He travels to a region where, since Washington’s focus waned following 9/11, North Korea has tested crude atomic devices and China has made enormous strides in building a modern military — including anti-ship ballistic missiles intended to target American aircraft carriers at a range of thousands of kilometers. The status of an American air station on Okinawa has faced intense debate and South Korea is uncomfortable with American deference to China in the midst of North Korean aggression.

But Gates is also visiting a region that has been a strategic U.S. priority since the 19th century — and a theater where the country has long worked to strengthen its position. It was no mistake that the Americans forced Spain to surrender Guam and the Philippines after the Spanish-American War, nor was the domination and ultimate annexation of Hawaii or the deployment of U.S. Marines to Beijing a product of happenstance. The result a century later is a robust foundation for American national power in the region.

In terms of commerce, the region’s economic bonds with the American economy continue to grow. In terms of military presence, while the United States may have some operational challenges in certain scenarios, it can call on allies from Australia to Japan and has sovereign-basing options in Hawaii and Guam. Politically, rare is the country that does not see its relationship with Washington as at least a hedge against a rising and more assertive Beijing, particularly as China asserts its maritime claims in the South China Sea. And, it is a region of powerful intra-regional tensions. Countries are more likely to distrust the intentions of those that border them than to share a powerful alliance with them. Even in the absence of deeply entrenched alliances with Australia, Japan and South Korea (not to mention other ties, such as the Philippines on counterterrorism, or with Taiwan, which depends on U.S. military armaments), this patchwork of regional tensions provides considerable flexibility to Washington, allowing it a number of scenarios to play a spoiling role and frustrate the emergence of a single regional hegemon.

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« Reply #184 on: June 12, 2011, 06:32:05 AM »

BRUSSELS—Defense Secretary Robert Gates issued a blunt critique of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization on Friday, arguing the Libya operations demonstrated America's allies suffered from serious gaps in military capabilities because of their failure to spend enough on their own defense.

One of the NATO's most ardent defenders and pointed critics, the outgoing U.S. defense chief scathingly accused Europe of behaving increasingly like a free rider, as budget cuts eat deeper into military spending.

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America's European allies, Mr. Gates said, are "apparently willing and eager for American taxpayers to assume the growing security burden left by reductions in European defense budgets."

Although the Libya mission has met its initial military objectives of grounding the Libyan air force and eroding Col. Moammar Gadhafi's ability to mount attacks on his own citizens, the operations have exposed weaknesses in the alliance, Mr. Gates said. While all members of the 28-nation alliance approved the Libya mission, fewer than half are participating, and even a smaller fraction are conducting air-to-ground strike missions.

"Frankly, many of those allies sitting on the sidelines do so not because they do not want to participate, but simply because they can't. The military capabilities simply aren't there," he said.

Journal Community

On the day of his speech, Norway—one of just seven NATO nations contributing ground-strike aircraft to the Libya campaign—announced it would pull out of the operation on Aug. 1 and, in the meantime, reduce the number of its strike fighters to four from six.

Norway's Defense Minister Grete Faremo said she expected understanding from allies, because the country's small air force couldn't maintain a large fighter-jet contribution over an extended period.

Norway, along with Denmark, has been praised by U.S. officials for pulling more than its weight over Libya. The two countries have provided 12% of allied strike aircraft yet have struck about one-third of the targets, Mr. Gates said.

In a private meeting with NATO defense ministers Wednesday, Mr. Gates identified Spain, Turkey and the Netherlands as countries that should contribute more to the Libya mission, and urged Germany and Poland, which have so far not contributed, to join the fight.


Full Text: Gates's speech on NATO
Dozens Die in Fresh Gadhafi Offensive
NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has expressed his own fears about other allies falling further behind the U.S. and being dependent on American technology. But he was confident allies would provide what was necessary to fulfill the Libya mission, she said.

A spokeswoman for Germany's foreign service said the country makes a considerable contribution to NATO and to NATO-led operations. She said the "large German engagement" in Afghanistan and elsewhere was explicitly praised by President Barack Obama when he met Chancellor Angela Merkel in Washington on June 7.

Officials from the U.K., which has the second-largest defense budget in NATO, said they didn't believe Mr. Gates's comments were directed at them. Nonetheless, U.S. officials have expressed disappointment at a 7.5% cut to defense spending in coming years.

British Defence Secretary Liam Fox has echoed some of Mr. Gates's views, saying other countries are relying too much on a few countries, particularly the U.K. and France, in Libya.

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Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert delivered a speech in Brussels Friday.

French and British officials have spoken of a three-tier alliance—with the U.S. far ahead of the second tier of Britain and France, and the rest way behind them.

Mr. Gates said he had long worried NATO was developing into a tiered alliance, divided between countries willing to bear the burden of military operations and those who "enjoy the benefits" but won't share the costs. "This is no longer a hypothetical worry," he said. "We are there today. And it is unacceptable."

Mr. Gates blasted the alliance for failing to develop intelligence and reconnaissance assets, forcing NATO to rely on American capabilities to develop targeting lists. "The most advanced fighter aircraft are little use if allies do not have the means to identify, process and strike targets as part of an integrated campaign," Mr. Gates said.

In addition, he said, even in a campaign against a "poorly armed regime in a sparsely populated country" allies began running short on munitions after just 11 weeks, forcing the U.S. to step in and help.

NATO officials said ammunition shortages hadn't affected the campaign.

Mr. Gates said the alliance had outperformed his expectations in Afghanistan. But even in the face of increased operations there, NATO defense budgets have fallen, forcing allies to put off critical modernization programs. In the 10 years since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, U.S. defense spending doubled. European defense spending, Mr. Gates said, fell by 15%. NATO members are supposed to spend 2% of their GDP on defense, but only five of the 28 allies meet that target.

In a question-and-answer session after the speech, Mr. Gates said historical attachments U.S. leaders have had to NATO are "aging out."

"Decisions and choices are going to be made more on what is in the best interest of the United States going forward," he said.
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« Reply #185 on: June 12, 2011, 10:47:06 AM »

The LA Times gets a lot of bad press on this forum, but I think lately they have been trying to represent both sides of many important issues.
One example is two articles presented side by side in the printed newspaper on the establishment of a Palestinian State.  John Bolton writing one side. 
Regardless of your viewpoint, I think it is helpful to hear and read both to better understand the issues.,0,4707176.story
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« Reply #186 on: June 13, 2011, 06:56:57 AM »

Well, nice to see Bolton get it right in his customarily pithy manner, and what a disingenous lying sack of excrement the Hamas guy is.
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« Reply #187 on: June 18, 2011, 06:32:57 PM »

While this could be posted in the Afpakia thread I am posting it here because of its focus on the larger international context.  IMHO it would be a better piece if it included more analysis of what happens as we leave.

June 18, 2011


U.S. President Barack Obama met with the outgoing commander of U.S. forces in
Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus, and Obama's national security team Thursday to
review the status of the counterinsurgency-focused campaign. At the center of the
discussion was next month's deadline for a drawdown of forces, set by Obama when he
committed 30,000 additional troops at the end of 2009. An announcement on this
initial drawdown is expected within weeks.
The ballpark figure of this first reduction is said to be on the order of 30,000
U.S. troops -- mirroring the 2009 surge -- over the next 12-18 months. This would
leave some 70,000 U.S. troops, plus allied forces, in the country. Any reduction
will ostensibly be founded on oft-cited "conditions-based" decisions by military
commanders, though ultimate authority remains with the White House.
Far more interesting are the rumors -- coming from STRATFOR sources, among many
others -- suggesting that the impending White House announcement will spell out not
only the anticipated reduction, but a restatement of the strategy and objectives of
the war effort (and by implication, the scale and duration of the commitment of
forces and resources). The stage has certainly been set with the killing of Osama
bin Laden, the single most wanted individual in the American war on terror, and the
shuffling of Petraeus, the counterinsurgency-focused strategy’s principal architect
and most ardent defender, to the CIA.
Nearly 150,000 troops cannot and will not be suddenly extracted from landlocked
Central Asia in short order. Whatever the case, a full drawdown is at best years
away. And even with a fundamental shift in strategy, some sort of training,
advising, intelligence and particularly, special-operations presence, could well
remain in the country far beyond the deadline for the end of combat operations,
currently set for the end of 2014.
But a change in strategy could quickly bear significant repercussions, particularly
if a drawdown begins to accelerate more rapidly than originally planned. Even the
most committed allies to the war in Afghanistan are there to support the United
States, often in pursuit of their own political aims, which may be only obliquely
related to anything happening in Afghanistan. While there may not be a rush for the
exit, most are weary and anxious for the war to end. Any prospect of a more rapid
withdrawal will certainly be welcomed news to American allies. (Recall the rapid
dwindling, in the latter years of the Iraq war, of the "coalition of the willing,"
which, aside from a company of British trainers, effectively became a coalition of
one by mid-2009.)

"For Washington, the imperative is to extract itself from these wars and focus its
attention on more pressing and significant geopolitical challenges. For the rest of
the world, the concern is that it might succeed sooner than expected."

More important will be regional repercussions. India will be concerned that a U.S.
withdrawal will leave Washington more dependent on Islamabad to manage Afghanistan
in the long run, thereby strengthening India’s rival to the north. India's concern
over Islamist militancy will only grow. Pakistan's concerns, meanwhile, are far more
fundamental. Afghanistan, on one hand, could provide some semblance of strategic
depth to the rear that the country sorely lacks to the front. On the other hand, it
offers a potential foothold to any potential aggressor, from India to Islamist
militants, intent on striking at the country’s core. Meanwhile, Iran -- though
geographically buffered in comparison to Pakistan -- has its own concerns about
cross-border militancy, particularly regarding the Baloch insurgency within its own
borders. And this, of course, intersects the larger American-Iranian struggle.
Concern about militancy abounds. Potential spillover of militancy in the absence of
a massive American and allied military presence in Afghanistan affects all bordering
countries. Even in the best case scenario, from a regional perspective, a
deterioration of security conditions can be expected to accompany any U.S. drawdown.
The presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan acts as a magnet for all manner of
regional militant entities, though Pakistan has already begun to feel the spillover
effects from the conflict in Afghanistan in the form of the Tehrik-i-Taliban, the
Pakistani version of the Taliban phenomenon, along with an entire playbill of other
militant actors. The presence of foreign forces in Afghanistan consumes much of
those militants’ efforts and strength. As the attraction and pressure of foreign
troops begin to lift, some battle-hardened militants will begin to move homeward or
toward the next perceived frontline, where they can turn their refined operational
skill on new foes.

Others, like Russia, will be concerned about an expansion of the already enormous
flow of Afghan poppy-based opiates into their country. From Moscow’s perspective,
counternarcotics efforts are already insufficient, as they have been sacrificed for
more pressing operational needs, and are likely to further decline as the United
States and its allies begin to extricate themselves from this conflict.
Domestically, Afghanistan is a fractious country. The infighting and civil war that
followed the Soviet withdrawal ultimately killed more Afghans than the Soviets'
scorched-earth policy did over the course of nearly a decade. Much will rest on
whatever political accommodation can be reached between Kabul, Islamabad and the
Taliban as the Americans and their allies shape the political circumstances of their
withdrawal. The durability of that political accommodation will be another question
But ultimately, for the last decade, the international system has been defined by a
United States bogged down in two wars in Asia. For Washington, the imperative is to
extract itself from these wars and focus its attention on more pressing and
significant geopolitical challenges. For the rest of the world, the concern is that
it might succeed sooner than expected.

Copyright 2011 STRATFOR.

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« Reply #188 on: June 28, 2011, 09:59:06 AM »

Posted: June 18, 2011
12:40 am Eastern

By Aaron Klein
© 2011 WND

Leon Panetta
CIA Director Leon Panetta, President Obama's nominee to serve as secretary of defense, keynoted the conference of a pro-Soviet, anti-war group during the height of the Cold War.

Panetta also honored the founding member of the group, the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, or WILPF, which was once named by the State Department as a "Soviet front."

On April 11, 1984, Panetta, then a California congressman, entered into the congressional record a tribute in honor of WILPF's founding member, Lucy Haessler.

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In the record, Panetta praised Haessler as "one of the most dedicated peace activists I have ever known."

Panetta recognized that Haessler traveled to the Soviet Union as a member of the WILPF:

"She has also participated in peace conferences conducted by WILPF and the Woman's International Democracy Foundation in France, the Soviet Union, Poland and East Germany," read Panetta's congressional praise.

Panetta hailed Haessler for her activism against the pending deployment of U.S. missiles to counter the Soviet build up:

"She joined thousands of dedicated peace activists where she expressed her concern about the impending deployment of Cruise missiles and Pershing II missiles in Europe," he noted.

Haessler's WILPF took on a pro-Soviet stance. It sponsored frequent exchange visits with the Soviet Women's Committee and against "anti-Sovietism" while calling for President Reagan to "Stop the Arms Race."

Panetta's relationship with Haessler and the WILPF goes back to at least June 1979, when was the keynote speaker of WILPF's Biennial Conference at the University of California at Santa Cruz. The conference was arranged by Haessler.

WILPF's literature notes the conference honored Ava and Linus Pauling, who were prominent supports of ending nuclear proliferation.

"This successful event elevated Santa Cruz WILPF permanently into the orbit of outstanding WILPF conferences," recalled WILPF life member Ruth Hunter in a tribute to Haessler.

Haessler, meanwhile, was aligned with communist activists. KeyWiki notes that in April 1966, Haessler sponsored a testimonial dinner in New York in honor of pro-communist scientist Herbert Aptheker.

The dinner also marked the second anniversary of the American Institute for Marxist Studies. Most speakers, organizers and sponsors were known members or supporters of the Communist Party USA.

Panetta later stated he was not aware of the WILPF's communist background and was merely praising Haessler's anti-war actions.

The background is the latest concern following Panetta's nomination for Defense Department chief.

Yesterday, WND reported Panetta once proposed allowing Congress to conduct spot checks at its discretion of the country's sensitive intelligence agency.

In 1987, Panetta as a congressman introduced the CIA Accountability Act, which would have made the CIA subject to audits by the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress.

Panetta's legislation would have allowed the comptroller general, who directs the GAO, to audit any financial transactions of the CIA and evaluate all of the agency's activities either at his own initiative or at the request of the congressional intelligence committees.

The CIA is the only government agency that contests the authority of the comptroller general to audit its activities, citing the covert aspects of its operation.

Marxist think tank

Earlier this week, WND reported on Panetta's ties to a pro-Marxist think tank accused of anti-CIA activity.

The Institute for Policy Studies, or IPS, has long faced criticism for positions some say attempt to undermine U.S. national security and for its cozy relationship with the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

A review of the voting record for Panetta, a member of Congress from 1977 to 1993, during the period in question shows an apparent affinity toward IPS's agenda.

The IPS is funded by philanthropist George Soros' Open Society Institute.

Panetta was reportedly on IPS's official 20th Anniversary Committee, celebrated April 5, 1983, at a time when the group was closely aligned with the Soviet Union.

In his authoritative book "Covert Cadre: Inside the Institute for Policy Studies," S. Steven Powell writes: "April 5, 1983, IPS threw a large twentieth-anniversary celebration to raise funds.

"On the fundraising committee for the event were 14 then-current members of the U.S. House of Representatives, including "Leon E. Panetta (D-Calif.), chairman of Budget Process Task Force of the House Committee on Budget (chairman of Subcommittee on Police and Personnel, Ninety-ninth Congress)."

Researcher Trevor Loudon, a specialist on communism, obtained and posted IPS literature documenting members of the 20th Anniversary Committee, which also included Sens. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., and Gary Hart, D-Colo., with an endorsement by Sen. Mark Hatfield, R-Ore.

Besides Panetta, congressmen on the IPS committee included Les Aspin, D-Wis., George E Brown Jr., D-Calif., Philip Burton, D-Calif., George Crockett, D-Mich., Tom Harkin, D-Iowa and Richard Ottinger, D-N.Y. Besides serving on the IPS committee, Panetta supported the IPS's "Coalition for a New Foreign and Military Policy Line" in 1983.

Powell wrote that in the 1980s, Panetta commissioned the IPS to produce an "alternative" budget that dramatically cut defense spending.

"The congressional supporters for the Institute for Policy Studies included many of those who biennially commission I.P.S. to produce an 'Alternative' Budget that dramatically cuts defense spending while increasing the spending for social welfare to levels only dreamed of by Karl Marx," wrote Powell in the November 1983 issue of the American Opinion.

"In this pact of I.P.S. intimates [are] such luminaries as ... Leon Panetta (D.-California), Chairman of the Budget Process Task Force," wrote Powell.

Congressional record

Panetta's ties to the IPS have some worried.

"Members of the mainstream news media seem to have no interest in Leon Panetta's past open involvement with the Institute for Policy Studies, an anti-CIA think tank closely linked to the former Soviet Union's KGB spy agency. But they should," writes blogger and former Air Force public affairs officer Bob McCarty.

Writing in the New American earlier this month, Christian Gomez notes, "Careful observation of former Rep. Panetta's record in the U.S. House of Representatives reveals a history of votes perceivable as in contrast with U.S. national security objectives, which if confirmed as Sec. of Defense may compromise U.S. national defense."

Indeed, as Gomez outlined, Panetta voted against the reaffirmation of the Mutual Defense Treaty with Taiwan and in support of continuing foreign aid to the Sandinista government of communist Nicaragua.

The lawmaker supported extending most-favored nation status to the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact states during the height of the Cold War and voted to cede control of the Panama Canal to the pro-Soviet Panamanian government.

Panetta also vocally supported various communist regimes throughout Latin America as well as Soviet-backed paramilitary groups in the region.

He endorsed the IPS-supported bill H.R. 2760, known as the Boland-Zablocki bill, to terminate U.S. efforts to resist communism in Nicaragua.

Panetta slammed what he called President Ronald Reagan's "illegal and extraordinary vicious wars against the poor of Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala."

Panetta supported the Soviet satellite government of Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua and was a vocal opponent of Chile's anti-communist government.

On July 19, 1983, on the floor of the House, Panetta condemned what he called the "U.S.-sponsored covert action against Nicaragua," stating that it was "among the most dangerous aspects of the (Reagan]) administration's policy in Central America."

Soviet agents, propaganda

The IPS, meanwhile, has long maintained controversial views and a pro-Marxist line on foreign policy. It was founded in 1963 by two former governmental workers, Marcus Raskin and Richard Barnet.

In his 1988 book "Far Left of Center: The American Radical Left Today," Harvey Klehr, professor of politics and history at EmoryUniversity, said that IPS "serves as an intellectual nerve center for the radical movement, ranging from nuclear and anti-intervention issues to support for Marxist insurgencies."

The FBI labeled the group a "think factory" that helps to "train extremists who incite violence in U.S. cities, and whose educational research serves as a cover for intrigue, and political agitation."

The IPS has been accused serving as a propaganda arm of the USSR and even a place where agents from the Soviet embassy in Washington came to convene and strategize.

In his book "The KGB and Soviet Disinformation: An Insider's View," Ladislav Bittman, a former KGB agent, called the IPS a Soviet misinformation operation at which Soviet insiders worked.

Brian Crozier, director of the London-based Institute for the Study of Conflict, described IPS as the "perfect intellectual front for Soviet activities which would be resisted if they were to originate openly from the KGB."

The IPS has been implicated in anti-CIA activity. The Center for Security Studies was a 1974 IPS spin-off and sought to compromise the effectiveness of U.S. intelligence agencies, according to Discover the Networks.

The mastheads of two anti-FBI and anti-CIA publications, Counterspy and the Covert Action Information Bulletin, were heavy with IPS members.

Further, the group's former director, Robert Borosage, penned a book shortly out of college attacking the CIA and ran the so-called CIA watchdog, Center for National Security Studies.

The group has been particularly concerned with researching U.S. defense industries and arms sales policies. .

In March 1982, IPS's Arms Race and Nuclear Weapons Project was directed by Bill Arkin, who had been compiling a book of U.S. nuclear weapons data with "everything from where the bombs are stored to where weapons delivery systems are cooked up," according to KeyWiki.

With research by Brenda J. Ellison
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« Reply #189 on: June 29, 2011, 09:34:55 AM »

Haven't had a chance to watch this yet-- it is 35 minutes long-- but it is Allen West, so it promises to be lively wink
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« Reply #190 on: June 29, 2011, 01:51:21 PM »

I agree with Crafty that separate from the context of the campaign we should discuss and argue this from a policy point of view.  He basically argued these same (hawkish) points in rebuttal to Ron Paul in the NH debate - in the 60 seconds provided.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty at the Council on Foreign Affairs, 6/28/11:  (Link at the end)

I want to speak plainly this morning about the opportunities and the dangers we face today in the Middle East.  The revolutions now roiling that region offer the promise of a more democratic, more open, and a more prosperous Arab world.  From Morocco to the Arabian Gulf, the escape from the dead hand of oppression is now a real possibility.   

Now is not the time to retreat from freedom’s rise.

Yet at the same time, we know these revolutions can bring to power forces that are neither democratic nor forward-looking.  Just as the people of Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Syria and elsewhere see a chance for a better life of genuine freedom, the leaders of radical Islam see a chance to ride political turmoil into power.

The United States has a vital stake in the future of this region.  We have been presented with a challenge as great as any we have faced in recent decades.  And we must get it right.  The question is, are we up to the challenge?

My answer is, of course we are.  If we are clear about our interests and guided by our principles, we can help steer events in the right direction.  Our nation has done this in the past -- at the end of World War II, in the last decade of the Cold War, and in the more recent war on terror … and we can do it again.

But President Obama has failed to formulate and carry out an effective and coherent strategy in response to these events.  He has been timid, slow, and too often without a clear understanding of our interests or a clear commitment to our principles.

And parts of the Republican Party now seem to be trying to out-bid the Democrats in appealing to isolationist sentiments.  This is no time for uncertain leadership in either party.  The stakes are simply too high, and the opportunity is simply too great.

No one in this Administration predicted the events of the Arab spring - but the freedom deficit in the Arab world was no secret.  For 60 years, Western nations excused and accommodated the lack of freedom in the Middle East.  That could not last.  The days of comfortable private deals with dictators were coming to an end in the age of Twitter, You Tube, and Facebook.  And history teaches there is no such thing as stable oppression.

President Obama has ignored that lesson of history.  Instead of promoting democracy – whose fruit we see now ripening across the region – he adopted a murky policy he called “engagement.”

“Engagement” meant that in 2009, when the Iranian ayatollahs stole an election, and the people of that country rose up in protest, President Obama held his tongue.  His silence validated the mullahs, despite the blood on their hands and the nuclear centrifuges in their tunnels.

While protesters were killed and tortured, Secretary Clinton said the Administration was “waiting to see the outcome of the internal Iranian processes.”  She and the president waited long enough to see the Green Movement crushed.

“Engagement” meant that in his first year in office, President Obama cut democracy funding for Egyptian civil society by 74 percent.  As one American democracy organization noted, this was “perceived by Egyptian democracy activists as signaling a lack of support.”  They perceived correctly.  It was a lack of support.

“Engagement” meant that when crisis erupted in Cairo this year, as tens of thousands of protesters gathered in Tahrir Square, Secretary Clinton declared, “the Egyptian Government is stable.”  Two weeks later, Mubarak was gone.  When Secretary Clinton visited Cairo after Mubarak’s fall, democratic activist groups refused to meet with her.  And who can blame them?

The forces we now need to succeed in Egypt -- the pro-democracy, secular political parties -- these are the very people President Obama cut off, and Secretary Clinton dismissed.

The Obama “engagement” policy in Syria led the Administration to call Bashar al Assad a “reformer.”  Even as Assad’s regime was shooting hundreds of protesters dead in the street, President Obama announced his plan to give Assad “an alternative vision of himself.”  Does anyone outside a therapist’s office have any idea what that means?  This is what passes for moral clarity in the Obama Administration.

By contrast, I called for Assad’s departure on March 29; I call for it again today.  We should recall our ambassador from Damascus; and I call for that again today.  The leader of the United States should never leave those willing to sacrifice their lives in the cause of freedom wondering where America stands.  As President, I will not.

We need a president who fully understands that America never “leads from behind.”

We cannot underestimate how pivotal this moment is in Middle Eastern history.  We need decisive, clear-eyed leadership that is responsive to this historical moment of change in ways that are consistent with our deepest principles and safeguards our vital interests.

Opportunity still exists amid the turmoil of the Arab Spring -- and we should seize it.

As I see it, the governments of the Middle East fall into four broad categories, and each requires a different strategic approach.

The first category consists of three countries now at various stages of transition toward democracy – the formerly fake republics in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya.  Iraq is also in this category, but is further along on its journey toward democracy.

For these countries, our goal should be to help promote freedom and democracy.

Elections that produce anti-democratic regimes undermine both freedom and stability.  We must do more than monitor polling places.  We must redirect foreign aid away from efforts to merely build good will, and toward efforts to build good allies -- genuine democracies governed by free people according to the rule of law.  And we must insist that our international partners get off the sidelines and do the same.

We should have no illusions about the difficulty of the transitions faced by Libya, Tunisia, and especially Egypt.  Whereas Libya is rich in oil, and Tunisia is small, Egypt is large, populous, and poor.  Among the region’s emerging democracies, it remains the biggest opportunity and the biggest danger for American interests.

Having ejected the Mubarak regime, too many Egyptians are now rejecting the beginnings of the economic opening engineered in the last decade.  We act out of friendship when we tell Egyptians, and every new democracy, that economic growth and prosperity are the result of free markets and free trade—not subsidies and foreign aid.  If we want these countries to succeed, we must afford them the respect of telling them the truth.

In Libya, the best help America can provide to these new friends is to stop leading from behind and commit America’s strength to removing Ghadafi, recognizing the TNC as the government of Libya, and unfreezing assets so the TNC can afford security and essential services as it marches toward Tripoli.

Beyond Libya, America should always promote the universal principles that undergird freedom.  We should press new friends to end discrimination against women, to establish independent courts, and freedom of speech and the press.  We must insist on religious freedoms for all, including the region’s minorities—whether Christian, Shia, Sunni, or Bahai.

The second category of states is the Arab monarchies.  Some – like Jordan and Morocco – are engaging now in what looks like genuine reform.  This should earn our praise and our assistance.  These kings have understood they must forge a partnership with their own people, leading step by step toward more democratic societies.  These monarchies can smooth the path to constitutional reform and freedom and thereby deepen their own legitimacy.  If they choose this route, they, too, deserve our help.

But others are resisting reform. While President Obama spoke well about Bahrain in his recent speech, he neglected to utter two important words:  Saudi Arabia.

US-Saudi relations are at an all-time low—and not primarily because of the Arab Spring.  They were going downhill fast, long before the uprisings began.  The Saudis saw an American Administration yearning to engage Iran—just at the time they saw Iran, correctly, as a mortal enemy.

We need to tell the Saudis what we think, which will only be effective if we have a position of trust with them.  We will develop that trust by demonstrating that we share their great concern about Iran and that we are committed to doing all that is necessary to defend the region from Iranian aggression.

At the same time, we need to be frank about what the Saudis must do to insure stability in their own country.  Above all, they need to reform and open their society.  Their treatment of Christians and other minorities, and their treatment of women, is indefensible and must change.

We know that reform will come to Saudi Arabia—sooner and more smoothly if the royal family accepts and designs it.  It will come later and with turbulence and even violence if they resist.  The vast wealth of their country should be used to support reforms that fit Saudi history and culture—but not to buy off the people as a substitute for lasting reform.

The third category consists of states that are directly hostile to America.  They include Iran and Syria.  The Arab Spring has already vastly undermined the appeal of Al Qaeda and the killing of Osama Bin Laden has significantly weakened it.

The success of peaceful protests in several Arab countries has shown the world that terror is not only evil, but will eventually be overcome by good.  Peaceful protests may soon bring down the Assad regime in Syria.  The 2009 protests in Iran inspired Arabs to seek their freedom.  Similarly, the Arab protests of this year, and the fall of regime after broken regime, can inspire Iranians to seek their freedom once again.

We have a clear interest in seeing an end to Assad’s murderous regime.  By sticking to Bashar al Assad so long, the Obama Administration has not only frustrated Syrians who are fighting for freedom—it has demonstrated strategic blindness.  The governments of Iran and Syria are enemies of the United States.  They are not reformers and never will be.  They support each other.  To weaken or replace one, is to weaken or replace the other.   

The fall of the Assad mafia in Damascus would weaken Hamas, which is headquartered there.  It would weaken Hezbollah, which gets its arms from Iran, through Syria.  And it would weaken the Iranian regime itself.   

To take advantage of this moment, we should press every diplomatic and economic channel to bring the Assad reign of terror to an end.  We need more forceful sanctions to persuade Syria’s Sunni business elite that Assad is too expensive to keep backing.  We need to work with Turkey and the Arab nations and the Europeans, to further isolate the regime.  And we need to encourage opponents of the regime by making our own position very clear, right now:  Bashar al-Assad must go.

When he does, the mullahs of Iran will find themselves isolated and vulnerable.  Syria is Iran’s only Arab ally.  If we peel that away, I believe it will hasten the fall of the mullahs.  And that is the ultimate goal we must pursue.  It’s the singular opportunity offered to the world by the brave men and women of the Arab Spring.

The march of freedom in the Middle East cuts across the region’s diversity of religious, ethnic, and political groups.  But it is born of a particular unity.  It is a united front against stolen elections and stolen liberty, secret police, corruption, and the state-sanctioned violence that is the essence of the Iranian regime’s tyranny.

So this is a moment to ratchet up pressure and speak with clarity.  More sanctions.  More and better broadcasting into Iran.  More assistance to Iranians to access the Internet and satellite TV and the knowledge and freedom that comes with it.  More efforts to expose the vicious repression inside that country and expose Teheran’s regime for the pariah it is.

And, very critically, we must have more clarity when it comes to Iran’s nuclear program.  In 2008, candidate Barack Obama told AIPAC that he would “always keep the threat of military action on the table to defend our security and our ally Israel.”  This year, he told AIPAC “we remain committed to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.”  So I have to ask: are all the options still on the table or not?  If he’s not clear with us, it’s no wonder that even our closest allies are confused.   

The Administration should enforce all sanctions for which legal authority already exits.  We should enact and then enforce new pending legislation which strengthens sanctions particularly against the Iranian Revolutionary Guards who control much of the Iranian economy.

And in the middle of all this, is Israel.

Israel is unique in the region because of what it stands for and what it has accomplished.  And it is unique in the threat it faces—the threat of annihilation.  It has long been a bastion of democracy in a region of tyranny and violence.  And it is by far our closest ally in that part of the world.

Despite wars and terrorists attacks, Israel offers all its citizens, men and women, Jews, Christians, Muslims and, others including 1.5 million Arabs, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, the right to vote, access to independent courts and all other democratic rights.

Nowhere has President Obama’s lack of judgment been more stunning than in his dealings with Israel.

It breaks my heart that President Obama treats Israel, our great friend, as a problem, rather than as an ally.  The President seems to genuinely believe the Israeli-Palestinian conflict lies at the heart of every problem in the Middle East.  He said it Cairo in 2009 and again this year.   

President Obama could not be more wrong.

The uprisings in Tunis, Cairo, Tripoli and elsewhere are not about Israelis and Palestinians. They’re about oppressed people yearning for freedom and prosperity.  Whether those countries become prosperous and free is not about how many apartments Israel builds in Jerusalem.

Today the president doesn’t really have a policy toward the peace process.  He has an attitude.  And let’s be frank about what that attitude is:  he thinks Israel is the problem.  And he thinks the answer is always more pressure on Israel.

I reject that anti-Israel attitude.  I reject it because Israel is a close and reliable democratic ally.  And I reject it because I know the people of Israel want peace.

Israeli – Palestinian peace is further away now than the day Barack Obama came to office.  But that does not have to be a permanent situation.

We must recognize that peace will only come if everyone in the region perceives clearly that America stands strongly with Israel.

I would take a new approach.

First, I would never undermine Israel’s negotiating position, nor pressure it to accept borders which jeopardize security and its ability to defend itself.

Second, I would not pressure Israel to negotiate with Hamas or a Palestinian government that includes Hamas, unless Hamas renounces terror, accepts Israel’s right to exist, and honors the previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements. In short, Hamas needs to cease being a terrorist group in both word and deed as a first step towards global legitimacy.

Third, I would ensure our assistance to the Palestinians immediately ends if the teaching of hatred in Palestinian classrooms and airwaves continues. That incitement must end now.

Fourth, I would recommend cultivating and empowering moderate forces in Palestinian society.

When the Palestinians have leaders who are honest and capable, who appreciate the rule of law, who understand that war against Israel has doomed generations of Palestinians to lives of bitterness, violence, and poverty – then peace will come.

The Middle East is changing before our eyes—but our government has not kept up.  It abandoned the promotion of democracy just as Arabs were about to seize it.  It sought to cozy up to dictators just as their own people rose against them.  It downplayed our principles and distanced us from key allies.

All this was wrong, and these policies have failed.  The Administration has abandoned them, and at the price of American leadership.  A region that since World War II has looked to us for security and progress now wonders where we are and what we’re up to.

The next president must do better. Today, in our own Republican Party, some look back and conclude our projection of strength and defense of freedom was a product of different times and different challenges.  While times have changed, the nature of the challenge has not.

In the 1980s, we were up against a violent, totalitarian ideology bent on subjugating the people and principles of the West.  While others sought to co-exist, President Reagan instead sought victory.  So must we, today.  For America is exceptional, and we have the moral clarity to lead the world.

It is not wrong for Republicans to question the conduct of President Obama’s military leadership in Libya.  There is much to question.  And it is not wrong for Republicans to debate the timing of our military drawdown in Afghanistan— though my belief is that General Petraeus’ voice ought to carry the most weight on that question.   

What is wrong, is for the Republican Party to shrink from the challenges of American leadership in the world.  History repeatedly warns us that in the long run, weakness in foreign policy costs us and our children much more than we’ll save in a budget line item.

America already has one political party devoted to decline, retrenchment, and withdrawal.  It does not need a second one.

Our enemies in the War on Terror, just like our opponents in the Cold War, respect and respond to strength.  Sometimes strength means military intervention.  Sometimes it means diplomatic pressure.  It always means moral clarity in word and deed.

That is the legacy of Republican foreign policy at its best, and the banner our next Republican President must carry around the world.   

Our ideals of economic and political freedom, of equality and opportunity for all citizens, remain the dream of people in the Middle East and throughout the world.  As America stands for these principles, and stands with our friends and allies, we will help the Middle East transform this moment of turbulence into a firmer, more lasting opportunity for freedom, peace, and progress.
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« Reply #191 on: June 29, 2011, 09:15:02 PM »

Just watched the Allen West speech of my previous post-- well worth the time and quite relevant to this thread-- including the political dimension.
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« Reply #192 on: June 30, 2011, 05:37:04 PM »

By MATT BRADLEY in Cairo and ADAM ENTOUS in Washington
The Obama administration is reaching out to Islamist parties whose political power is on the rise in the wake of Arab Spring uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa.

The tentative outreach effort to religious political groups—the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Ennahda in Tunisia—reflects the administration's realization that democracy in the Middle East means dealing more directly with popular Islamist movements the U.S. has long kept at arm's length.

Speaking to reporters in Budapest, Hungary, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the Obama administration is seeking "limited contacts" with Muslim Brotherhood members ahead of Egypt's parliamentary and presidential elections slated for later this year.

"You cannot leave out half the population and claim that you are committed to democracy," Mrs. Clinton said.

The Obama administration has been even more aggressive in courting Tunisia's most prominent Islamist party, Ennahda.

Since the fall of Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in January, the party has sought contact with the West, vowing to respect women's rights and not to impose religious law if it comes to power in elections.

In May, with help from the U.S. Embassy in Tunis, Ennahda party leaders quietly visited Washington for talks at the State Department and with congressional leaders, including Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.), according to organizers. U.S. officials described the visit as an opportunity to build bridges with a moderate Islamist party that could serve as a model for groups in other countries in the region.

"We told the Americans that we are a civil, not a religious, party," Hamadi Jebali, secretary general of Ennahda, said in an interview.

He assured U.S. officials that Ennahda wouldn't impose its religious beliefs on more secular Tunisians. "Islamic parties are evolving, both in the Maghreb and elsewhere," Mr. Jebali said.

U.S. officials said the Obama administration was responding to changes in the "political landscape" across the region, but that it would treat parties in different countries in different ways, depending on the degree to which they were open to the West and shunned violence.

"The political landscape in Egypt has changed, and is changing," said one Obama administration official. "It is in our interests to engage with all of the parties that are competing for parliament or the presidency."

Before a street-level uprising toppled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in February, U.S. contacts with the Muslim Brotherhood were infrequent and limited to members of parliament affiliated with the group. The Egyptian government banned the 83-year-old organization in 1954 because of its suspected role in an assassination attempt on the Egyptian president, so Muslim Brotherhood parliamentary candidates had to run for parliament as independents.

U.S. officials say Mr. Mubarak, long a close American ally in the turbulent Middle East, objected to previous U.S. efforts to reach out to the Muslim Brotherhood.

When President Barack Obama delivered a speech to the Muslim world in 2009, as many as 10 Brotherhood members were allowed to attend at the U.S. Embassy's invitation, said Shadi Hamid, an Egypt analyst for the Washington-based Brookings Institution.

Muslim Brotherhood officials cautiously welcome the American overture but remained bitter about the long alliance with Mr. Mubarak, a hated figure among Islamists and other opposition groups.

"When we sit on the dialogue table we will discuss why the [Egyptian] people hate the American administration," said Mohamed Al Biltagy, a prominent member of the group's parliamentary bloc before Brotherhood members were swept from Egypt's legislature last November in allegedly fraudulent elections.

U.S. officials played down the implications of the administration's decision to renew contacts with the Muslim Brotherhood. They said any exchanges would likely be held at a lower level at first, reflecting concerns in Congress and the Pentagon about taking any steps that could boost the group's political standing.

Mrs. Clinton said U.S. diplomats who meet with Muslim Brotherhood members will "emphasize the importance of and support for democratic principles, and especially a commitment to nonviolence, respect for minority rights, and the full inclusion of women in any democracy."

U.S.-funded election advisers working in Egypt have met several times with Muslim Brotherhood leaders in Cairo since the fall of the Mubarak regime. "There's no legal prohibition whatsoever," a senior U.S.-paid election adviser said.

The U.S. decision to approach both Egyptian and Tunisian Islamists reflects the strong possibility that they will play a prominent role after elections are held in both countries. Secular parties appear to be struggling to organize themselves, even though secularists drove the popular uprisings.

The election adviser said newly established secular parties in Egypt have in recent weeks stepped up their election preparations, hoping to counter the Muslim Brotherhood's widely perceived organizational advantage. But the adviser said these secular parties were, for the most part, still ill-prepared to make a strong showing if parliamentary elections are held as planned in September.

"We're trying to get people to lower their expectations," the adviser said.

—Keith Johnson in Washington and Amina Ismail in Cairo contributed to this article.
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« Reply #193 on: June 30, 2011, 05:39:44 PM »

By MATT BRADLEY in Cairo and ADAM ENTOUS in Washington
The Obama administration is reaching out to Islamist parties whose political power is on the rise in the wake of Arab Spring uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa.

The tentative outreach effort to religious political groups—the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Ennahda in Tunisia—reflects the administration's realization that democracy in the Middle East means dealing more directly with popular Islamist movements the U.S. has long kept at arm's length.

Speaking to reporters in Budapest, Hungary, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the Obama administration is seeking "limited contacts" with Muslim Brotherhood members ahead of Egypt's parliamentary and presidential elections slated for later this year.

"You cannot leave out half the population and claim that you are committed to democracy," Mrs. Clinton said.

The Obama administration has been even more aggressive in courting Tunisia's most prominent Islamist party, Ennahda.

What? I thought the Muslim Brotherhood was a secular organization.  rolleyes

Like Obama hasn't been courting the jihadists since before he ran for president.....
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« Reply #194 on: July 04, 2011, 07:02:26 AM »

Remember all the howling over Bush's "illegal war"? To quote Glenn Reynolds "They told me if I voted for McCain, there would be endless wars without congressional oversight, and they were right!"
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« Reply #195 on: July 04, 2011, 05:55:56 PM »

Are you saying you have a problem with what happened here?
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« Reply #196 on: July 04, 2011, 06:51:21 PM »

Actually, the AUMF says we get to hunt down AQ and their allies anywhere on the globe. So targeting them in Africa is nothing we haven't been doing since 9/11, although the left screamed about it when Bush was president.

At least some of the Libyan rebels we are supporting are AQ or allied with AQ, so it's not covered by the AUMF from 9/18/01, I'd think.

I'm glad to see Ka-Daffy targeted, but pretending that the WPA is valid law but ignoring it is bogus.
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« Reply #197 on: July 04, 2011, 11:46:38 PM »

So, what was the point of this post?

Remember all the howling over Bush's "illegal war"? To quote Glenn Reynolds "They told me if I voted for McCain, there would be endless wars without congressional oversight, and they were right!""
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« Reply #198 on: July 05, 2011, 08:57:28 AM »

So, what was the point of this post?

Remember all the howling over Bush's "illegal war"? To quote Glenn Reynolds "They told me if I voted for McCain, there would be endless wars without congressional oversight, and they were right!""

After years of listening to the left screaming about "Bush's illegal war", I never miss the opportunity to point out the epic hypocrisy so clearly demonstrated now.
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« Reply #199 on: July 09, 2011, 01:18:58 AM »

My last two posts in the SNAFU thread contain what is IMHO some very important material.  The US, as Iran has predicted for some time now, appears to be in the process of being run out of the Middle East altogether.  It appears we are out of Afpakia, Iraq, Egypt, and now Saudi Arabia, hence out of all the smaller kingdoms of the Arabian peninsula.

It appears that Baraq has managed to completely rupture the Saudis trust in our will with his handling of their concerns during the uprising against Mubarak in Egypt.

Looking backwards for a moment, in a larger sense it seems to be that all of this was already in the cards when the Dems determined to bring down US efforts in Iraq and Baraq pretend surged in Afpakia.

Bush is not immune here either.  A plausible although mistaken case can be made that we should have finished with Afpakia (either leaving altogether or finishing the job) before going into Iraq.  This IMHO ignores what would have happened had we not gone into Iraq- which is a longer discussion than I feel up to right now with the Gathering in a few hours.  Bush-Rumbo also did a poor job of running the Iraq War, even when taking into account the utter destructiveness of the Dem opposition.

But here we are.   What to do now?

One idea that occurs to me is a mutual defense treaty with Israel with a base in Israel. 
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