Posts Tagged ‘VP Biden’

"End game"

May 25th, 2010 Comments off

FB Ali via SST/ here

The players involved in the conflict in Afghanistan have all concluded that neither side can achieve a military victory and that it will end in some other way, probably through a negotiated solution. Since each of them has different goals, this end game is likely to be both confusing and complicated……

The mainstream viewpoint in the US administration, espoused by Secretary Gates and the military hierarchy, accepts the inevitability of a negotiated settlement but wants one that preserves a friendly government in Kabul that continues to lean on the US for support. If Taliban participation is unavoidable, it must be as limited as possible. They believe the insurgency has not yet been weakened enough to accept this kind of a settlement, and thus further military action is necessary. Hence the forthcoming Kandahar operation, as well as renewed pressure on Pakistan to complete the military takeover of its tribal areas. President Obama is going along with this policy for now but does not appear committed to it; he could abandon it if the approach does not work as successfully as its proponents promise.

Another school of thought in the administration (possibly including VP Biden) could be termed the minimalist position: it would agree to any kind of a negotiated settlement between the Afghan parties that would enable the US to get out of there expeditiously. They would like Hamid Karzai to pursue this option as soon as possible and get the best deal he can. There is also still a maximalist position in the US, advanced by those groups who believe the US should dominate the world with its military power, and who were the original backers of the Iraq and Afghan wars. This group advocates the continuation of the war until the Taliban are defeated and al-Qaeda is eradicated from the region. Its supporters in the administration maintain a low profile since this position is unlikely to ever become administration policy. (continue/ here)

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Al-Maliki in BBC Interview: No need for US Combat Troops after Election, Would require renegotiating SOFA

March 3rd, 2010 Comments off

The public affairs office of the US Embassy in London put out this Spot Report via its Media Outreach Center -London Hub March 2, 2010. The interview with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, now campaigning for his political survival, challenges the assertion of US military commander Ray Odierno that US combat troops could or would remain in iraq past the deadlines set in the Status of Forces Agreement. Odierno’s assertion produced outrage in Iraq, according to Raed Jarrar.

BBC Arabic TV interview with Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki

BBC Arabic broadcast a 15-minute edited on-camera interview with Nouri al-Maliki at 9.45g. The main points he made were:

Relations with Kurds over Kirkuk

[Al-Maliki:] We have no alliance with the Kurds; Kirkuk is important to us as well as the Kurds; we agree on legal settlement on Kirkuk based on constitution.

Would you enter alliance with Iyad Allawi?

[Al-Maliki:] That would be difficult, because of differences in history, directions, etc.

Why did you object to Allawi’s visits to other Arab countries?

[Al-Maliki:] Iraqis are sensitive about foreign interference in their political system

On Allawi’s visit to Saudi Arabia

[Al-Maliki:] Against idea of visiting any country with the purpose of winning support for becoming prime minister of Iraq

Relations with Saudi Arabia

[Al-Maliki:] I made one visit to Saudi Arabia for purpose of good relations, as with any other neighbor; I didn’t ask for any other meeting with Saudi official; we want good relations, but if they want to maintain this estrangement it’s up to them.

[U.S. Ambassador Christopher] Hill’s warning of possible political chaos after elections

[Al-Maliki:] That’s a wrong reading; Iraq will be stable after the elections; those raising quarrels and spreading lies are doing so for future political advantage;

Hill’s accusation that Iran playing “hateful” role in Iraq

[Al-Maliki:] They are his words; “hateful” is a big word; maybe they are interfering as Arab countries do; someone who is hateful is only intent on destroying – Iran not only intent on destruction; we seek open friendship, not political or military interference.

Accountability and Justice Commission working to Iranian agenda?

[Al-Maliki:] That’s an American view; symptom of US-Iran quarrel which we do not want to see played out in Iraq; I explained to VP Biden and Amb Hill that it was the AJC that was responsible for deciding on the election candidates, not the committee controlled by Ahmed Chalabi.

On decision to reintegrate 20,000 officers from Saddam’s army

[Al-Maliki:] Part of national reconciliation to integrate them; not Ba’athists; this had nothing to do with election campaign; matter been considered for last three years;

Odierno’s warning of security problems meaning US troops might stay on

[Al-Maliki:] That’s his view; but we think the Iraqi security infrastructure is effective even without US help; they said Basra operation (against militias [in spring of 2008]) would take us six months – we did it in nine days.

Defence minister said he wanted US troops to stay till 2020

[Al-Maliki:] I think it’s unlikely he really said that; any such change would need a new security agreement that would need to be vote on by parliament.

Reaction to Ahmadinejad’s call in Syria for Iraq to be a third regional ally

[Al-Maliki:] We welcome close relations with Iran as we do with Syria, Saudi Arabia, Turkey.. but not on the basis of alliances or treaties; in the past these led the region into confrontations between axes.

Foreign funding of political parties

[Al-Maliki:] Parties funded from abroad, which is a problem; it’s because parliament has not yet passed law we tabled on political parties; our State of Law party is not funded from abroad; has an account in the Rafidayn Bank that citizens can contribute to; so far it contains about eight million (dinars?)

Your greatest achievement?

[Al-Maliki:] Security; other achievements in education, jobs etc would not have been possible without security.

End/ (Not Continued)

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The Secret Details of Obama’s Afghan Plan

November 26th, 2009 Comments off

L Gelb, a ‘friend’ of VP Biden, in the Daily Beast, here

“….. President Barack Obama’s long-awaited Tuesday speech on Afghanistan offers lots more troops to the military and some promising rhetoric for war skeptics. He will authorize between 30,000 and 36,000 new U.S. troops, depending on prospective NATO contributions, and an additional 10,000 more in a year if necessary, according to administration sources. Obama will stress that these and other moves to strengthen the fight against the Taliban and al Qaeda should be seen as a boost to friendly Afghans and not as an open-ended American commitment. The boost will provide the time and the incentives for America’s Afghan allies to prepare themselves to assume primary responsibility for continuing the battle….

I would have preferred no more than about 15,000 troops, mainly trainers, a two- to three-year plan (not a fixed timetable) for Kabul to take the combat lead, and much more toughness toward our two-faced Pakistani “allies.” And the administration sources stress that the precise details and rhetoric of Obama’s plan won’t be set until the president gives his speech Tuesday night at West Point. But based on what they’ve told me, I believe that the Obama approach is reasonable, and about the most that can be expected, given the powerful conflicting pressures. The plan deserves the support of the American people……

…… there are two additional elements to the strategy. U.S. forces will expedite the long-neglected training of Afghan military and police forces. And the new 30,000-plus surge of U.S. troops will be used to beat up on the Taliban…”

(Continue, here)

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Is Petraeus worried?

September 25th, 2009 Comments off

Thos. Ricks, in FP/ here

“In the decade or so that I’ve been keeping an eye on Gen. David Petraeus, I’ve noticed that the more worried he gets, the more boring his public pronouncements become.

If I’m right, his mind-numbing appearance yesterday at a Marine Corps conference on counterinsurgency is a leading indicator that he is profoundly worried. One reporter told me after the event that she fell asleep during it. I am guessing Petraeus is fretting primarily about President Obama’s public dithering on Afghanistan strategy, but perhaps also about some weird vibes inside the U.S. official establishment in Baghdad.

Normally I don’t mind when Petraeus serves up lukewarm leftovers. It’s his right, after all. And the precepts of being a general is to never let them see you sweat, smooth out the highs and lows, and steady as she goes. But I thought that reading aloud Powerpoints that I think of as “Your Friend Mr. CENTCOM” to an audience heavy with Marine officers who have led regiments, battalions, companies, and platoons in Iraq and Afghanistan, and are prepping to go back, was at best awkward and at worst insulting.  

The one hint time I thought he tiptoed into current controversies was the conclusion on one slide: “Countering Terrorism requires more than Counter-Terrorist Forces.” On the face of it, this would appear to show him siding with Gen. McChrystal and against VP Biden on whether to send additional troops to Afghanistan, or to fall back on a “raiding” strategy. (By the way, when was the last time Biden was right about anything?) But Petraeus was quick to note that this was an old slide, not something new or about Afghanistan in particular.

The other mildly interesting comment he made was when he was asked about similarities between Afghanistan and Vietnam. “There are some similarities,” said Petraeus, who noted that his doctoral dissertation at Princeton was about how the Vietnam War affected the U.S. Army’s view of the use of force. “But I think the biggest lesson of Vietnam is to not be a prisoner of lessons you may have learned.”

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