Archive for the ‘goals’ Category

Pentagon study: US should pare Afghanistan goals

February 3, 2009

A classified Pentagon report urges President Barack Obama to shift U.S. military strategy in Afghanistan, de-emphasizing democracy-building and concentrating more on targeting Taliban and al-Qaida sanctuaries inside Pakistan with the aid of Pakistani military forces.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has seen the report prepared by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but it has not yet been presented to the White House, officials said Tuesday. The recommendations are one element of a broad policy reassessment under way along with recommendations to be considered by the White House from the commander of the U.S. Central Command, Gen. David Petraeus, and other military leaders.

By ROBERT BURNS and PAULINE JELINEK, Associated Press Writers

A senior defense official said Tuesday that it will likely take several weeks before the Obama administration rolls out its long-term strategy for Afghanistan.

The Joint Chiefs’ plan reflects growing worries that the U.S. military was taking on more than it could handle in Afghanistan by pursuing the Bush administration‘s broad goal of nurturing a thriving democratic government.

Instead, the plan calls for a more narrowly focused effort to root out militant strongholds along the Pakistani border and inside the neighboring country, according to officials who confirmed the essence of the report. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the plan publicly.

The recommendations are broadly cast and provide limited detail, meant to help develop the overarching strategy for the Afghanistan-Pakistan region rather than propose a detailed military action plan.

During a press conference Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs noted the ongoing “comprehensive reviews” of Afghan policy, but did not say when they would be made public.

The assessments, Gibbs said, are critical for Obama’s intent to “evaluate the current direction of our policy and make some corrections as he goes forward.”

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman would not comment Tuesday on the details of the Joint Chiefs’ report, but acknowledged that the U.S. relationship with Pakistan is a critical component for success in Afghanistan.

“When you talk about Afghanistan, you can’t help but also recognize the fact that the border region with Pakistan is obviously a contributing factor to the stability and security of Afghanistan, and the work that Pakistan is doing to try to reduce and eliminate those safe havens, and the ability for people to move across that border that are engaged in hostile intentions,” Whitman said.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090203/
ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/us_afghanistan

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Afghanistan: Greatest Challenge, Modest Goals, But More Troops; Obama With Joint Chiefs Wednesday

January 27, 2009

Amid preparations for a major troop build up in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned Tuesday that the United States cannot become bogged down in the unrealistic goal of turning the country into an economically prosperous nation.

By ANNE FLAHERTY
Associated Press

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates waits to testify at the ... 
U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates waits to testify at the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington, January 27, 2009.REUTERS/Larry Downing (UNITED STATES)

Instead, the U.S. must limit its focus to what it can achieve within five years, he said. The focus should be trying to ensure terrorists don’t regain control of the region and use it to coordinate attacks, Gates told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

He also indicated that military strikes against terrorist targets in Pakistan are likely to continue, despite Islamabad’s view that they are unhelpful.

“If we set ourselves the objective of creating some sort of Central Asian Valhallah over there, we will lose because nobody in the world has that kind of time, patience or money to be honest,” said Gates, referring to the mythic haven of purity.

Gates testified as President Barack Obama considers options for drawing down operations in Iraq and doubling the force size in Afghanistan. Obama planned to meet Wednesday with the service chiefs.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090127
/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/congress_gates_23

Israel in Gaza: Is the Real Target Hamas Rule?

January 3, 2009

EREZ CROSSING, on the IsraelGaza border — As Israel’s tanks and troops poured into Gaza on Saturday, the next phase in its fierce attempt to end rocket attacks, a question hung over the operation: can the rockets really be stopped for any length of time while Hamas remains in power in Gaza?

By Ethan Bronner
The New York Times
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And if the answer is determined to be no, then is the real aim of the operation to remove Hamas entirely, no matter the cost?

After her visit to Paris on Thursday to explain to French authorities why she thought this was not the time for a quick cease-fire, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni of Israel said, “There is no doubt that as long as Hamas controls Gaza, it is a problem for Israel, a problem for the Palestinians and a problem for the entire region.”

Vice Premier Haim Ramon went even further Friday night in an interview on Israeli television, saying Israel must not end this operation with Hamas in charge of Gaza.

“What I think we need to do is to reach a situation in which we do not allow Hamas to govern,” Mr. Ramon said on Channel One. “That is the most important thing.”

Neither Prime Minister Ehud Olmert nor Defense Minister Ehud Barak has made such a statement. Still, there is a growing and shared concern among Israeli leaders that any letup against Hamas would be problematic for Israel’s broad goals in the long term because it could bolster and validate the group, which says Israel should be destroyed.

“If the war ends in a draw, as expected, and Israel refrains from re-occupying Gaza, Hamas will gain diplomatic recognition,” wrote Aluf Benn, a political analyst, in the newspaper Haaretz on Friday. “No matter what you call it,” he added, “Hamas will obtain legitimacy.”

In addition, any potential truce deal would probably include an increase in commercial traffic from Israel and Egypt into Gaza, which is Hamas’s central demand: to end the economic boycott and border closing it has been facing. To build up the Gaza economy under Hamas, Israeli leaders say, would be to build up Hamas. Yet withholding the commerce would continue to leave 1.5 million Gazans living in despair.

Related:
Gaza Day 9 Sunday: Israeli Ground Troops, Tanks Join Air Assault on Hamas

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/04/world/
middleeast/04assess.html?_r=1&hp

Israel Keeps Gaza Goals Vague

December 29, 2008

Israel has dropped tons of bombs on the Gaza Strip in an unprecedented show of force to make Hamas stop rocket attacks, but it has not said it will try to topple the Islamic militants who have ruled the territory for 18 months.

Such a limited definition of goals gives Israel considerable flexibility in deciding when to end the assault, especially if international pressure mounts, while still calling it a success. But this guarded approach also offers Hamas good survival odds, even if the onslaught leaves it badly weakened.

Israel’s unwillingness to reoccupy Gaza or openly try to install a new ruler there gives Hamas considerable leverage in future cease-fire negotiations.

By KARIN LAUB, Associated Press Writer

In exchange for calm on Israel’s border, Hamas demands an end to the crippling blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt after the Hamas takeover of Gaza 18 months ago. Hamas, which won 2006 parliamentary elections, seized control after a power-sharing agreement with the rival Fatah movement collapsed in violence.

Ending the blockade could help Hamas recover quickly and prolong its rule indefinitely. That, in turn, would all but destroy prospects of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

Israel has been negotiating for the past year with Hamas’ rival, moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who controls the West Bank. However, Israel says it cannot implement an agreement as long as the Iranian-backed Hamas, sworn to Israel’s destruction, controls half of what would be a Palestinian state.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081229/ap_on_
re_mi_ea/ml_israel_end_game_analysis