Monday, September 26, 2011


Obama's Dilemma: U.S. Foreign Policy and Electoral Realities


By George Friedman

STRATFOR does not normally involve itself in domestic American politics. Our focus is on international affairs, and American politics, like politics everywhere, is a passionate business. The vilification from all sides that follows any mention we make of American politics is both inevitable and unpleasant. Nevertheless, it’s our job to chronicle the unfolding of the international system, and the fact that the United States is moving deeply into an election cycle will affect American international behavior and therefore the international system.

The United States remains the center of gravity of the international system. The sheer size of its economy (regardless of its growth rate) and the power of its military (regardless of its current problems) make the United States unique. Even more important, no single leader of the world is as significant, for good or bad, as the American president. That makes the American presidency, in its broadest sense, a matter that cannot be ignored in studying the international system.

    The American system was designed to be a phased process. By separating the selection of the legislature from the selection of the president, the founders created a system that did not allow for sudden shifts in personnel. Unlike parliamentary systems, in which the legislature and the leadership are intimately linked, the institutional and temporal uncoupling of the system in the United States was intended to control the passing passions by leaving about two-thirds of the U.S. Senate unchanged even in a presidential election year, which always coincides with the election of the House of Representatives. Coupled with senatorial rules, this makes it difficult for the president to govern on domestic affairs. Changes in the ideological tenor of the system are years in coming, and when they come they stay a long time. Mostly, however, the system is in gridlock. 

    Thomas Jefferson said that a government that governs least is the best. The United States has a vast government that rests on a system in which significant change is not impossible but which demands a level of consensus over a period of time that rarely exists.

    This is particularly true in domestic politics, where the complexity is compounded by the uncertainty of the legislative branch. Consider that the healthcare legislation passed through major compromise is still in doubt, pending court rulings that thus far have been contradictory. All of this would have delighted the founders if not the constantly trapped presidents, who frequently shrug off their limits in the domestic arena in favor of action in the international realm, where their freedom to maneuver is much greater, as the founders intended.

The Burden of the Past


    The point of this is that all U.S. presidents live within the framework in which Barack Obama is now operating. First, no president begins with a clean slate. All begin with the unfinished work of the prior administration. Thus, George W. Bush began his presidency with an al Qaeda whose planning and implementation for 9/11 was already well under way. Some of the al Qaeda operatives who would die in the attack were already in the country. So, like all of his predecessors, Obama assumed the presidency with his agenda already laid out.

    Obama had a unique set of problems. The first was his agenda, which focused on ending the Iraq war and reversing social policies in place since Ronald Reagan became president in 1981. By the time Obama entered office, the process of withdrawal from Iraq was under way, which gave him the option of shifting the terminal date. The historic reversal that he wanted to execute, starting with healthcare reform, confronted the realities of September 2008 and the American financial crisis. His Iraq policy was in place by Inauguration Day while his social programs were colliding with the financial crisis.

    Obama’s campaign was about more than particular policies. He ran on a platform that famously promised change and hope. His tremendous political achievement was in framing those concepts in such a way that they were interpreted by voters to mean precisely what they wanted them to mean without committing Obama to specific policies. To the anti-war faction it meant that the wars would end. To those concerned about unilateralism it meant that unilateralism would be replaced by multilateralism. To those worried about growing inequality it meant that he would end inequality. To those concerned about industrial jobs going overseas it meant that those jobs would stay in the United States. To those who hated Guantanamo it meant that Guantanamo would be closed.

    Obama created a coalition whose expectations of what Obama would do were shaped by them and projected on Obama. In fact, Obama never quite said what his supporters thought he said. His supporters thought they heard that he was anti-war. He never said that. He simply said that he opposed Iraq and thought Afghanistan should be waged. His strategy was to allow his followers to believe what they wanted so long as they voted for him, and they obliged. Now, this is not unique to Obama. It is how presidents get elected. What was unique was how well he did it and the problems it caused once he became president.

    It must first be remembered that, contrary to the excitement of the time and faulty memories today, Obama did not win an overwhelming victory. About 47 percent of the public voted for someone other than Obama. It was certainly a solid victory, but it was neither a landslide nor a mandate for his programs. But the excitement generated by his victory created the sense of victory that his numbers didn’t support.

    Another problem was that he had no programmatic preparation for the reality he faced. September 2008 changed all in the sense that it created financial and economic realities that ran counter to the policies he envisioned. He shaped those policies during the primaries and after the convention, and they were based on assumptions that were no longer true after September 2008. Indeed, it could be argued that he was elected because of September 2008. Prior to the meltdown, John McCain had a small lead over Obama, who took over the lead only after the meltdown. Given that the crisis emerged on the Republicans’ watch, this made perfect sense. But shifting policy priorities was hard because of political commitments and inertia and perhaps because the extremities of the crisis were not fully appreciated.

    Obama’s economic policies did not differ wildly from Bush’s — indeed, many of the key figures had served in the Federal Reserve and elsewhere during the Bush administration. The Bush administration’s solution was to print and insert money into financial institutions in order to stabilize the system. By the time Obama came into power, it was clear to his team that the amount of inserted money was insufficient and had to be increased. In addition, in order to sustain the economy, the policy that had been in place during the Bush years of maintaining low interest rates through monetary easing was extended and intensified. To a great extent, the Obama years have been the Bush years extended to their logical conclusion. Whether Bush would have gone for the stimulus package is not clear, but it is conceivable that he would have.

    Obama essentially pursued the Bush strategy of stabilizing the banks in the belief that a stable banking system was indispensible and would in itself stimulate the economy by creating liquidity. Whether it did or it didn’t, the strategy created the beginnings of Obama’s political problem. He drew substantial support from populists on the left and suspicion from populists on the right. The latter, already hostile to Bush’s policies, coalesced into the Tea Party. But this was not Obama’s biggest problem. It was that his policies, which both seemed to favor the financial elite and were at odds with what Democratic populists believed the president stood for, weakened his support from the left. The division between what he actually said and what his supporters thought they heard him say began to widen. While the healthcare battle solidified his opposition among those who would oppose him anyway, his continuing response to the financial crisis both solidified opposition among Republicans and weakened support among Democrats.

A Foreign Policy Problem


    This was coupled with his foreign policy problem. Among Democrats, the anti-war faction was a significant bloc. Most Democrats did not support Obama with anti-war reasons as their primary motivator, but enough did make this the priority issue that he could not win if he lost this bloc. This bloc believed two things. The first was that the war in Iraq was unjustified and harmful and the second was that it emerged from an administration that was singularly insensitive to the world at large and to the European alliance in particular. 

    They supported Obama because they assumed not only that he would end wars — as well as stop torture and imprisonment without trial — but that he would also re-found American foreign policy on new principles.

    Obama’s decision to dramatically increase forces in Afghanistan while merely modifying the Bush administration’s timeline for withdrawing from Iraq caused unease within the Democratic Party. But two steps that Bush took held his position. First, one of the first things Obama did after he became president was to reach out to the Europeans. It was expected that this would increase European support for U.S. foreign policy. The Europeans, of course, were enthusiastic about Obama, as the Noble Peace Prize showed. But while Obama believed that his willingness to listen to the Europeans meant they would be forthcoming with help, the Europeans believed that Obama would understand them better and not ask for help.

    The relationship was no better under Obama than under Bush. It wasn’t personality or ideology that mattered. It was simply that Germany, as the prime example, had different interests than the United States. This was compounded by the differing views and approaches to the global financial crisis. Whereas the Americans were still interested in Afghanistan, the Europeans considered Afghanistan a much lower priority than the financial crisis. Thus, U.S.-European relations remained frozen.

    Then Obama made his speech to the Islamic world in Cairo, where his supporters heard him trying to make amends for Bush’s actions and where many Muslims heard an unwillingness to break with Israel or end the wars. His supporters heard conciliation, the Islamic world heard inflexibility.

    The European response to Obama the president as opposed to Obama the candidate running against George Bush slowly reverberated among his supporters. Not only had he failed to end the wars, he doubled down and surged forces into Afghanistan. And the continued hostility toward the United States from the Islamic world reverberated among those on the Democratic left who were concerned with such matters. Add to that the failure to close Guantanamo and a range of other issues concerning the war on terror and support for Obama crumbled.

A Domestic Policy Focus


    His primary victory, health-care reform, was the foundation of an edifice that was never built. Indeed, the reform bill is caught in the courts, and its future is as uncertain as it was when the bill was caught in Congress.

    The Republicans, as expected, agree on nothing other than Obama’s defeat. The Democrats will support him; the question is how enthusiastic that support will be.

    Obama’s support now stands at 41 percent. The failure point for a president’s second term lurks around 35 percent. It is hard to come back from there. Obama is not there yet. The loss of another six points would come from his Democratic base (which is why 35 is the failure point; when you lose a chunk of your own base, you are in deep trouble). At this point, however, the president is far less interested in foreign policy than he is in holding his base together and retaking the middle. He did not win by a large enough margin to be able to lose any of his core constituencies. He may hope that his Republican challenger will alienate the center, but he can’t count on that. He has to capture his center and hold his left.

    That means he must first focus on domestic policy. That is where the public is focused. Even the Afghan war and the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq are not touching nerves in the center. His problem is twofold. First, it is not clear that he can get anything past Congress. He can then argue that this is Congress’ fault, but the Republicans can run against Congress as well. Second, it is not clear what he would propose. The Republican right can’t be redeemed, but what can Obama propose that will please the Democratic core and hold the center? The Democratic core wants taxes. The center doesn’t oppose taxes (it is merely uneasy about them), but it is extremely sensitive about having the taxes eaten up by new spending — something the Democratic left supports. Obama is trapped between two groups he must have that view the world differently enough that bridging the gap is impossible.

    The founders gave the United States a government that, no matter how large it gets, can’t act on domestic policy without a powerful consensus. Today there is none, and therefore there can’t be action. Foreign policy isn’t currently resonating with the American public, so any daring initiatives in that arena will likely fail to achieve the desired domestic political end. Obama has to hold together a coalition that is inherently fragmented by many different understandings of what his presidency is about. This coalition has weakened substantially. Obama’s attention must be on holding it together. He cannot resurrect the foreign policy part of it at this point. He must bet on the fact that the coalition has nowhere else to go. What he must focus on is domestic policy crafted to hold his base and center together long enough to win the election.

    The world, therefore, is facing at least 14 months with the United States being at best reactive and at worst non-responsive to events. Obama has never been a foreign policy president; events and proclivity (I suspect) have always drawn him to domestic matters. But between now and the election, the political configuration of the United States and the dynamics of his presidency will force him away from foreign policy.

    This at a time when the Persian Gulf is coming to terms with the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and the power of Iran, when Palestinians and Israelis are facing another crisis over U.N. recognition, when the future of Europe is unknown, when North Africa is unstable and Syria is in crisis and when U.S. forces continue to fight in Afghanistan. All of this creates opportunities for countries to build realities that may not be in the best interests of the United States in the long run. There is a period of at least 14 months for regional powers to act with confidence without being too concerned about the United States.

    The point of this analysis is to try to show the dynamics that have led the United States to this position, and to sketch the international landscape in broad strokes. The U.S. president will not be deeply engaged in the world for more than a year. Thus, he will have to cope with events pressed on him. He may undertake initiatives, such as trying to revive the Middle East peace process, but such moves would have large political components that would make it difficult to cope with realities on the ground. The rest of the world knows this, of course. The question is whether and how they take advantage of it.

STRATFOR Geopolitical Weekly reprinted with permission and thanks from The 5th Estate.

Afghan employee kills U.S. citizen at Kabul CIA base

Since Bush, the CIA believe they are omnipotent, brazenly appearing on newscasts as if they were loved, respected and safe throughout the world - and as we have seen today, they are living in fantasy land

By Mirwais Harooni and Emma Graham-Harrison

KABUL (Reuters) - 

An Afghan employee of the U.S. government opened fire inside a CIA office in Kabul on Sunday evening, killing an American and injuring a second, U.S. and Afghan officials said, in the second major breach of embassy security in two weeks.

    The attacker was killed, and the injured U.S. citizen was taken to a military hospital with non-life threatening injuries, U.S. embassy spokesman Gavin Sundwall said on Monday.

Bush at CIA Langley
It was not clear if the U.S. citizens were victims of a rogue employee who had been won over to the insurgent cause, or just the escalation of an argument in a city were tensions are high and many people carry guns. There are precedents for both.

"There was a shooting incident at an annex of the U.S. embassy in Kabul last night involving an Afghan employee who was killed. The motivation for the attack is still under investigation at this time," Sundwall said.

     The Taliban could not immediately be reached for comment.

   The shooting came the same month that insurgents took over an unfinished high-rise near the city's heavily guarded military, political and diplomatic heart and showered rockets down on the U.S. embassy and NATO headquarters.

    That attack lasted 20 hours, and the U.S. has blamed it on the Haqqani network of militants, who were long based in Pakistan's lawless frontier regions although they now say they have moved back into Afghanistan.

    Washington accused Pakistan's spy service of offering them support. Pakistan has strongly denied the allegations.

    Sunday's shooting happened at the Ariana hotel, just a few blocks away from the Presidential Palace and the U.S. embassy, and used by the Central Intelligence Agency as a Kabul base.

    Kabul Police Chief Ayub Salangi said there had been an exchange of fire at the hotel, which he described as an "office" for the CIA, but declined further comment on what happened in an area where access is restricted even for Afghan forces.

    The hotel has been closed off and heavily guarded at least since the fall of the Taliban government in late 2001. Perhaps because of its proximity to the Presidential Palace, it was used by ruling regimes for years before that.

    (Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball in Washington, Editing by Sanjeev Miglani).

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UPDATE: Final Solo bombing casualty report - 1 dead, 28 injured

Bomber was only fatality; authorities mount rigorous hunt for all involved

The 5th Estate
By Imas Kurniawati

Solo, Indonesia
A hospital in Solo has confirmed that the one fatality in Sunday's suicide bombing was that of the bomber.

    The hospital had previously reported that a teenage girl had died from her injuries,  however it appears now that was a mistake.

    The hospital also increased the number of wounded to 28, up from 22.

Postmortem photo of the bomber
Two of the more seriously wounded, Deviana and Febrianna Puspa Dewi are now recovering from surgery to remove shrapnel, a hospital official reported to The 5th Estate. 

In the aftermath of the first major terrorist bombing in Solo that took place at a Protestant church on Sunday, the spotlight is now being shown on the city known for being a militant stronghold.

    The police say that they are searching for a man that may have been linked to the Mosque bombing in Cirebon in April.

    Police killed the two main suspects of that bombing in May close to Solo.
     They also say that one of the bombers in the Cirebon attack could also be the Church bomber in Solo.

   There has been speculation among officials here that the bombing was an attempt to re-ignite the sectarian violence in Ambon that resulted in the deaths of several people.

The 5th Estate will continually update this story as it happens.

Can this Congress do anything right

This looks to be the real thing, now the question is:  What will Americans do in the event of a government shutdown

By David Rogers

Was nothing learned from August? Have 535 lawmakers forgotten the phrase: “Meet the other guy halfway?”

    After pushing the nation to the brink of default, Congress went home last month to face a credit-rating downgrade, spiraling financial markets, and surly, scared voters. Returning after Labor Day — with their approval ratings in the tank — lawmakers vowed to do better, only to fall off the wagon again this week with post-midnight fights that threaten the normal operations of government as well as badly needed disaster aid for the victims of recent storms and flooding.

It’s become less a Congress than a free-fire zone. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which has been forced to operate since last month on a highly restrictive “immediate needs” basis, is now days from running out of cash. The Democratic Senate is taking the weekend off to “cool” down — and do a little fundraising — before a showdown vote Monday night. And the Republican House has left entirely for a recess, convinced it’s the wronged party and seemingly totally blind to how its own rigidity has contributed to the crisis.

    Most damning: This is the easy stuff. The bill at issue is a relatively simple stopgap continuing resolution, or CR, to keep the government operating until mid-November while tougher issues are addressed. If this is a crisis, what are world financial markets to think of Washington’s ability to meet its promises in August — coming up still with at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction in less than two months?

    “I have never seen it like this,” said Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), a World War II hero now closing in on a half century in Washington. Indeed, some even liken this Congress to the pre-Civil War years — the air filled with moral certainty and calamity around the corner.

    The grim economic news since August contributes to a sense of helplessness and fractured power. This is very much a Congress divided three ways — Republican, Democratic and tea party. Now it is also one living through a period of joblessness and strained resources that is beyond anything members have known in their lifetime.

    The nation is in serious peril, and this breeds an anxious, even scared rank and file which is what really drove this latest crisis — from the bottom not the top.

    “None of us have ever experienced this level of job loss," said Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.). “We have no rainy day fund. We’re fighting a battle with little or no reserves, and I don’t think the Congress knows how to do it. I’m not pretending I do. This is a tough one.”

    All that demands strong leadership — a quality sorely lacking. And this is a story that begins and ends with the now strained relationship between Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

    These are two men who seem to like one another, enjoy good staff relations, and have a wealth of experience in bipartisan negotiations. Boehner came up through two House committees, Labor and Education and Agriculture, where he showed an ability to reach across party lines. Reid was a tireless Democrat whip before becoming leader and thrives on the vote swapping so synonymous with the Senate Appropriations Committee on which he sat for many years.

    Yet for all this talent, each man was too weak or too restrained politically to maintain their partnership even as the White House took a walk — not even issuing the standard statement of administration policy on the bill in question.

    To hear Boehner’s side, the speaker came back from August, instructing his aides to avoid precisely this type of drama. Deals were worked out to move transportation and trade-related bills and Boehner felt he had reached a deal with Reid on the CR as well.

     The speaker kept faith with the new spending caps of $1.043 trillion for 2012, an important priority for Reid. Disaster aid would be included for 2011 in light of FEMA’s dire straits, albeit under terms that kept 2011 appropriations under the 2011 targets agreed to in the last shutdown crisis in April.

    Reid’s camp says no deal was ever reached, precisely because of the limits on disaster aid. Instead, by this account, there was a tacit understanding that each leader would play his cards: Boehner with the CR and Reid with a free-standing disaster aid bill to test the waters for adding more assistance. After seeing the outcome, they could reassess the situation.

    Whatever the truth, the first rounds were a setback for Boehner. Reid’s bill, doubling the level of disaster aid, picked up a surprising 62 Senate votes, including 10 Republicans. Days later Boehner’s CR went down, having lost 48 of his own Republicans upset with the spending levels in the bill.

    Reid waited for the phone to ring from Boehner. His staff reached out to the speaker’s with some new ideas. Instead, smarting from his loss and feeling betrayed, Boehner moved further right and rallied his party to pass virtually the same CR with minimal Democratic support early Friday morning.

    Hours later, the two men spoke briefly — when Boehner finally returned Reid’s call, which the leader took in the Senate cloakroom. Feeling rebuffed, the Nevada Democrat went back on the floor and promptly tabled the House resolution — ironically joined by same tea party Republicans whole House allies had put so much pressure on Boehner to move further right.

    Indeed, the great influence of the tea party thus far may be less in its numbers than its ability to discourage Republican leaders from reaching across the aisle.

    When the stakes were highest in the debt crisis, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell took this risk and was a major architect of the August accords. But more often, the Kentucky Republican is less of the dealmaker he once was and will refuse to do anything that threatens Boehner, held in check by the tea party right.

    Over time, the power of the tea party minority has bred its own counter-weight on the left; instead of three parts, this may be more honestly a Congress broken into four.

    Boehner went into the CR fight with the fulsome support of Rep. Norman Dicks, the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee. But Dicks then reversed himself under pressure from the groundswell of anger from the progressive left over offsets seen as threatening jobs.

    In the same way, Reid’s ability to strike a deal is hampered more and more by the anger in his caucus that Senate Democrats are being pushed around by what’s really a minority in the House. Much to the chagrin of the White House and Republicans alike, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has fed on this anger and often seems to overpower his friend Reid.

    In this context, the disaster aid fight was the perfect storm of storms.

    Schumer’s own New York suffered serious damage from Hurricane Irene and he was quick to seize on the disaster aid issue with an almost jingoistic message, calling on Congress to come together “for America.” The Republican spending offsets — taking $1.5 billion from a high-tech manufacturing loan program for the auto industry — dovetailed with this theme by waving a red cape at job-hungry Democrats and the industrial Midwest.

    Boehner’s camp argues correctly that $2.5 billion will still remain in the Bush-era fund but to a surprising degree, the speaker failed to take advantage of his chances to temper the cut and win back bipartisan support.

    The more agile “old” Boehner, freer to move on his own, could have easily restored $500 million to the cut without violating any budget rules. Instead, the speaker went in the opposite direction and, to appease his right, added $100 million in new cuts at the expense of another loan fund important to environmentalists.

    What’s left out of the discussions — and seems to skew Boehner’s calculations — is how much FEMA money is really an issue for both parties — not some gift or quid-pro-quo for pro-government Democrats.

    The truth is the whole 2011 disaster aid portion of the CR closely mirrors one approved in June and engineered then by leading Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee from Alabama and Missouri after devastating tornadoes in their states. It was attached then to the Homeland Security budget for 2012 and then taken off the shelf, with some modifications, for the CR.

    Democrats always opposed taking $1.5 billion from the advanced technology auto fund which exceeded the $1 billion in aid. But coming off the job growth last spring, this was justified because of the comparative outlay rates for the two accounts.

    Three months later, circumstances are different. The recovery had dramatically slowed and with just days left to the fiscal year, there will no real outlays in 2011 making the extra $500 million cut much more a political concession to the tea party than a needed offset to stay under budget caps.

    Would Boehner changing this have turned the situation around alone: probably not. Would it have gotten both sides talking again about a true halfway mark: maybe so.

    “We dropped to 12,” Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.) told his colleagues ruefully before Friday’s post-midnight vote, speaking of congressional approval ratings. “I guess we’re trying to get into the single digits.”

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Sounds Familiar: Senator Says "all options on table" on Pakistan

Somebody needs to shut this desperate, lying, deluded asshole up - permanently and before he starts World War III; there will be one hell of a lot of dead soldiers if he and Mullins get their way and war would divert coming revolution

By Doina Chiacu

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - 

The United States will have to consider all options "including defending our troops" in confronting Pakistani support for militant networks fighting U.S. soldiers in the region, a senator said on Sunday.

    "We need to put Pakistan on notice," Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican member of the Armed Services Committee said on "Fox News Sunday."

    U.S. military leaders said last week the Pakistani army's powerful ISI spy agency supported the Haqqani militant group that Washington blames for an attack on its embassy and other targets in Kabul, Afghanistan. Pakistan denied the allegations.

Evil Clown:  Lindsay Graham
Graham said Pakistan has to choose between helping the Haqqani network and helping the United States fight al Qaeda in Afghanistan and border regions of Pakistan.

"The idea of Pakistan's intelligence agencies supporting terrorism as a national strategy needs to come to an end," Graham said.

    "It destabilizes Afghanistan. They're killing American soldiers. If they continue to embrace terrorism as part of their national strategy we're going to have to put all options on the table, including defending our troops."

    Graham said Washington should reconsider assistance to Pakistan and noted last week's approval by a Senate committee of $1 billion to Pakistan for counterterrorism operations. The panel made that and any economic aid conditional on Islamabad cooperating with Washington against militant groups, including the Haqqanis.

    The senator did not elaborate on what U.S. military action he would advocate if the situation did not change.

   "I am saying that the sovereign nation of Pakistan is engaging in hostile acts against the United States and our ally Afghanistan," he said.

    (Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Bill Trott)

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. The 5th Estate is making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.  We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

Pakistan ISI 'exporting violence' to Afghanistan: US

Mullins wants to start WWIII in Pakistan
to get job as FOX News military analyst; says stretched "tighter than a banjo string" on Admiral salary

Agence France Presse
Dan De Luce

The US military's top officer bluntly accused Pakistan of "exporting" violent extremism to Afghanistan through proxies and warned of possible action to protect American troops.

     In a scathing and unprecedented condemnation of Pakistan, Admiral Mike Mullen on Thursday said the country's main intelligence agency ISI was actively supporting Haqqani network militants blamed for an assault on the US embassy in Kabul last week.

    "The Haqqani Network, for one, acts as a veritable arm of Pakistan?s Inter-Services Intelligence agency," Mullen told the US Senate Armed Services Committee.

Lunatic Leon Panetta thinks U.S. can win war with Pakistan
A CIA asset turned Al-Qaeda ally, the Haqqani network is probably the most dangerous faction in the Afghan Taliban. In the 1980s, the United States funneled arms and cash to the Haqqani faction to counter Soviet forces.

Mullen said Haqqani militants -- with ISI backing -- this month carried out a truck bombing on a NATO base in Afghanistan that wounded 77 Americans; assaulted the US embassy and NATO headquarters in the Afghan capital; and in June staged an attack on the InterContinental hotel in Kabul.

    The admiral's tough language follows a series of stern warnings from top US officials on Pakistan's inaction over the Haqqani network, raising the possibility of unilateral US action.

    "If they keep killing our troops that would not be something we would just sit idly by and watch," Mullen said of the Haqqani insurgents.

    The Central Intelligence Agency already carries out drone bombing raids on Al-Qaeda and other militants in Pakistan's northwest tribal areas, strikes which US officials do not explicitly acknowledge.

    The US warnings carry particular weight in the aftermath of the American raid that killed Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden on May 2 in Abbottabad, north of the capital Islamabad, an operation that angered and embarrassed Pakistani leaders.

    US officials chose not to notify Pakistan in advance of the nighttime operation by Navy SEAL commandos, fearing that officials might tip off bin Laden's inner circle.

Mullen:  Still beating dead horse bin Laden, wants WWIII
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, appearing at the same Senate hearing, expressed frustration over Haqqani sanctuaries in Pakistan and renewed a vow that the United States would safeguard its troops.

Panetta, who presided over the Bin Laden raid as CIA chief, declined to say what steps the government might take -- amid speculation the US might expand drone strikes to a wider area or even stage an operation similar to the bin Laden raid.

    But he said the United States had made clear that it would do whatever is necessary to protect American troops.

    As Pakistan and the United States appeared headed on a collision course, Islamabad this week promised action against the Haqqanis if Washington provided sufficient intelligence. But officials denied the Al-Qaeda-linked Taliban faction operated on Pakistani soil.

    Mullen, who in the past has tended to employ more diplomatic language on Pakistan, told senators the country was jeopardizing its partnership with Washington as well as its regional influence by "choosing to use violent extremism as an instrument of policy."

Above:  The last guy who pissed off Pakistan Army/ISI
He added: "By exporting violence, they have eroded their internal security and their position in the region."

While Pakistan has maintained ties to some militants as a hedge to counter its arch-foe India, the gamble has proved a failure, he said.

    To defuse underlying tensions in South Asia, Panetta said both India and Pakistan need to work to reach a peace settlement over the disputed region of Kashmir.

    "It's tough politically in both areas, but in the end, we are never going to achieve stability in that region until the issues between Pakistan and India are resolved," he said.

    In his last appearance before the Senate committee as he prepares to step down this month as chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mullen defended his efforts to build a dialogue with Pakistan's military.

  Despite mixed results, Mullen said he had helped keep the lines of communication open in more than a two dozen meetings with his Pakistani counterpart, army chief General Ashfaq Kayani.

    In the wake of the bin Laden raid, the United States has agreed to cut by about half its military presence in Pakistan, from 300 troops to no more than 150, while virtually eliminating a role for special forces training Pakistani units, officials said this week.

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Senator: Consider military action against Pakistan

Insane Graham conveniently forgets to say that dead soldiers would be alive if they were not there illegally in first place; neglects to mention war deaths would increase exponentially in event of Pakistan invasion

Associated Press


A Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee said Sunday that the U.S. should consider military action against Pakistan if it continues to support terrorist attacks against American troops in Afghanistan.

    "The sovereign nation of Pakistan is engaging in hostile acts against the United States and our ally Afghanistan that must cease, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told "Fox News Sunday."

Mullen:  Delusional Admiral "Dr. Strangelove"
He said if experts decided that the U.S. needs to "elevate its response," he was confident there would be strong bipartisan support in Congress for such action.

Graham did not call for military action but said "all options" should be considered. He said assistance to Pakistan should be reconfigured and that the U.S. should no longer designate an amount of aid for Pakistan but have a more "transactional relationship" with the country.

   "They're killing American soldiers," he said. "If they continue to embrace terrorism as a part of their national strategy, we're going to have to put all options on the table, including defending our troops."

    In testimony last week to Graham's committee, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, said Pakistan's powerful military intelligence agency had backed extremists in planning and executing the assault on the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan and a truck bomb attack that wounded 77 American soldiers. 
Both occurred this month.

Doofus Graham:  Speaking in code only he understands
Mullen contended that the Haqqani insurgent network "acts as a veritable arm" of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency as it undermined U.S.-Pakistan relations, already tenuous because of the war in Afghanistan. Pakistan exports violence, Mullen said, and threatens any success in the 10-year-old war.

Graham said Pakistan does cooperate with the U.S. in actions against al-Qaida. But he said the Pakistani military feels threatened by a democracy in Afghanistan and is betting that the Taliban will come back there.

    "The best solution is for Pakistan to fight all forms of terrorism, embrace working with us so that we can deal with terrorism along their border, because it is the biggest threat to stability," he said. "But Pakistan is terrorism itself. They have made a tremendous miscalculation."

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