Archive for the ‘Richard Holbrooke’ Category

Afghanistan to take part in US strategic review

February 15, 2009

The Afghan government will take part in a U.S. strategic review of the war in Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai said Sunday in a sign of increased cooperation at a time of strained relations.

Karzai recently sent President Barack Obama a letter with a proposal that Afghanistan join a war review currently under way.

By JASON STRAZIUSO, Associated Press Writer

The U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, said at a joint news conference that Obama had “welcomed the suggestion.”

Karzai said his foreign minister, Dadfar Rangin Spanta, would head the delegation. The U.S. has several reviews of the situation in Afghanistan under way, and it was not immediately clear which one Afghan officials would take part in.

The U.S. is studying the situation in Afghanistan at a time of spiraling violence. Taliban attacks have spiked the last three years, and militants have swept up wide areas of countryside that the Afghan government has not been able to control.

Obama has said the U.S. will increase its focus on Afghanistan and draw down forces in Iraq under his watch. The U.S. is contemplating sending up to 30,000 more troops to bolster the 33,000 already in Afghanistan.

Karzai told the news conference he was “grateful” for an agreement announced Thursday between Afghanistan and the U.S. military that Afghan forces would take on a greater role in the planning and execution of missions with the aim of reducing civilian casualties.

He said he hoped the agreement would “reduce civilian casualties and prevent nighttime raids.” Overnight raids by elite U.S. Special Operations Forces cause many of the civilian deaths that Karzai has repeatedly denounced, but the agreement made no mention that such targeted missions would end.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/2009021
5/ap_on_re_as/as_afghanistan

Hillary’s incredible, shrinking role

February 12, 2009

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is finding that her job description is dissolving under her feet, leaving her with only a vestige of the power she must have thought she acquired when she signed on to be President Obama’s chief Cabinet officer.

By Dick Morris
The Hill

Since her designation:

 Vice President Biden has moved vigorously to stake out foreign policy as his turf. His visit to Afghanistan, right before the Inauguration, could not but send a signal to Hillary that he would conduct foreign policy in the new administration, leaving Hillary in the role of backup.

 

• Richard Holbrooke, the former Balkan negotiator and U.N. ambassador, has been named special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan. He insisted on direct access to the president, a privilege he was denied during much of the Clinton years.

• Former Sen. George Mitchell (D-Maine), negotiator of the Irish Peace Accords, was appointed to be the administration’s point man on Arab-Israeli negotiations.

• Samantha Power, Obama’s former campaign aide, who once called Hillary a “monster,” has been appointed to the National Security Council (NSC) as director of “multilateral affairs.”

• Gen. James L. Jones, Obama’s new national security adviser, has announced an expansion of the membership and role of the NSC. He pledges to eliminate “back channels” to the president and wants to grow the NSC’s role to accommodate the “dramatically different” challenges of the current world situation.

• Susan Rice, Obama’s new United Nations ambassador, insisted upon and got Cabinet rank for her portfolio, and she will presumably also have the same kind of access to Obama that she had as his chief foreign policy adviser during the campaign.

So where does all this leave Secretary of State Clinton?

While sympathy for Mrs. Clinton is outside the normal fare of these columns, one cannot help but feel that she is surrounded by people who are, at best, strangers and, at worst, enemies. ….

Read the rest:
http://thehill.com/dick-morris/hillarys-inc
redible-shrinking-role-2009-02-09.html

Obama Halts Troop Surge to Afghanistan

February 8, 2009

There has been some unease in defense and foreign policy circles about the U.S. plan to add 30,000 more troops into Afghanistan.  What exactly is our plan and how do we get out?  Add to that the fact that supply lines are tenuous from Pakistan and Russia has managed to cut off a U.S. base in Kyrgyzstan.

“Nobody can say the war in Afghanistan has gone well,” said Richard Holbrooke, President Obama’s special envoy to the region.

Now a U.S. rethinking of U.S. policy toward Afganistan is underway.

Related:
Russia Closed U.S. Air Base; Allowing ‘Non-Lethal’ Supplies Through to Afghanistan

Russia Boosts Aid To Neighbors; Wants U.S. Base, Influence Ended

 Russia says it wants to help US in Afghanistan

American Troops In Afghanistan Out On A Limb?

Pentagon study: US should pare Afghanistan goals

CNN:
http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/02/07/h
olbrooke.afghanistan/index.html?section=cnn_latest

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PRESIDENT Barack Obama has demanded that American defence chiefs review their strategy in Afghanistan before going ahead with a troop surge.

There is concern among senior Democrats that the military is preparing to send up to 30,000 extra troops without a coherent plan or exit strategy.

The Times (UK)

The Pentagon was set to announce the deployment of 17,000 extra soldiers and marines last week but Robert Gates, the defence secretary, postponed the decision after questions from Obama.

The president was concerned by a lack of strategy at his first meeting with Gates and the US joint chiefs of staff last month in “the tank”, the secure conference room in the Pentagon. He asked: “What’s the endgame?” and did not receive a convincing answer.

Read the rest:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/w
orld/us_and_americas/article5683681.ece

Obama Completes Spectacular First Week

January 28, 2009

Barack Obama’s first week in the White House has been spectacular.

He was greated by the largest live crowds ever, perhaps, to attend an inauguration.

He has appointed special envoys in the Middle East (George Mitchell) and for Afghanistan and Pakistan (Richard Holbrooke).

Like Karl Wallenda, the father of the famed high wire act, he pleased liberals with his proclamation on torture and Gitmo without really closing the detention facility and angering conservatives.

He has reached out to everyone: Republicans, Iran, Russia, Muslims, Israelis, Pakistan and everyone in between.

He has launch “policy reviews” all over the map: on Irag and Afghanistan; and on energy and the environment.

He’s gone to Republican lawmakers to hear their concerns — part photo op certainly but also part necessity and conviction.

“Mr. Obama doesn’t have to do that. He could get a stimulus bill passed almost entirely with Democratic votes. But Obama doesn’t want to be yet another president who divides the country,” said Bill Schneider of CNN.

Tonight he will host a “social hour” at the White House to include Republicans and Democrats.

Not a bad first week.

John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

Related:
http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/0
1/28/obama.first.week/index.html

Related:
 Russia ’stops missile deployment in Europe because of Obama’

Obama Envoy in Israel, Seeks End To Hamas Tunnels, Smuggling

Obama: Muslims not America’s enemy, “I have Muslim members of my family”

Pakistan Hopes Obama Can Deliver Even Part of the Bush-Cheney Love (and Money)

January 28, 2009

Former Pakistan President Musharraf has been on a media blitz of sorts seeking love and money from the new Obama Aministration.

Musharraf got rich off Bush-Cheney.

Now President Zardari is at it; seeking U.S. approval and funding which may be in serious doubt.

Just yesterday Defense Secretary Gates said Predator drones would continue to invade pakistan’s air space in efforts to find and kill terrorists the Pakistani’s tolerate.

On Sunday, September 10, 2006, the late Tim Russet hosted Vice President Cheney on”Meet the Press.”  Cheney made an extremely long supporting speech on the importance of General Musharraf and pakistan to the United States.

I heard about this while in Pakistan working near my friend Muhammad.

Muhammad is now dead, killed by the Taliban, right near where the Predator drones are operating today.  Musharraf is no longer the kingpin in Pakistan.

But it was Tim Russert’s careful, probing inquiry with Cheney that opened my eyes to the growing troubles between the U.S. and Pakistan — and the kind of “over the top” support once given to Pakistan by the United States.

John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

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Part of Vice President Cheney’s Remarks on “Meet the Press” with Tim Russert on Sunday, September 10, 2006:

“President Musharraf has been a great ally. There was, prior to 9/11, a close relationship between the Pakistan intelligence services and the Taliban. Pakistan was one of only three nations that recognized, diplomatically recognized the government of Afghanistan at that particular time. But the fact is Musharraf has put his neck on the line in order to be effective in going after the extremist elements including al-Qaeda and including the Taliban in Pakistan. There have been three attempts on his life, two of those by al-Qaeda over the course of the last three years. This is a man who has demonstrated great courage under very difficult political circumstances and has been a great ally for the United States”.

“So there’s no question in that area along the Afghan/Pakistan border is something of a no man’s land, it has been for centuries. It’s extraordinarily rough territory. People there who move back and forth across the border, they were smuggling goods before there was concern about, about terrorism. But we need to continue to work the problem. Musharraf just visited Karzai in, in Kabul this past week, they’re both going to be here during the course of the U.N. General Assembly meetings over the course of the next few weeks. We worked that area very hard, and the Paks have been great allies in that effort.”

“Pakistan, we’ve gone in and worked closely with Musharraf to take down al-Qaeda. Saudi Arabia, same thing. In all of those cases, it’s been a matter of getting the locals into the fight to prevail over al-Qaeda and al-Qaeda-related tyrants.”

“Think of Musharraf who puts his neck on the line every day he goes to work, when there’ve been attempts on his life because of his support for our position. And they look over here and they see the United States that’s made a commitment to the Iraqis, that’s gone in and taken down the old regime, worked to set up a democracy, worked to set up security forces, and all of a sudden we say it’s too tough, we’re going home. What’s Karzai going to think up in Kabul? Is he going to have any confidence at all that he can trust the United States, that in fact we’re there to get the job done? What about Musharraf? Or is Musharraf and those people you’re talking about who are on the fence in Afghanistan and elsewhere going to say, ‘My gosh, the United States hasn’t got the stomach for the fight. Bin Laden’s right, al-Qaeda’s right, the United States has lost its will and will not complete the mission,’ and it will damage our capabilities and all of those other war fronts, if you will, in the global war on terror.”

Related:
 Pakistan’s President Continues Audition for Obama Attention, Funding, Support

Pakistan’s President Continues Audition for Obama Attention, Funding, Support

January 28, 2009

Pakistan looks forward to a new beginning in its bilateral relationship with the United States. First, we congratulate Barack Obama and the country that had the character to elect him, and we welcome his decision to name a special envoy to Southwest Asia. Appointing the seasoned diplomat Richard Holbrooke says much about the president’s worldview and his understanding of the complexities of peace and stability and the threats of extremism and terrorism. Simply put, we must move beyond rhetoric and tackle the hard problems.

By Asif Ali Zardari
Prisident of Pakistan
The Washington Post

Pakistan has repeatedly been identified as the most critical external problem facing the new administration. The situation in Pakistan, Afghanistan and India is indeed critical, but its severity actually presents an opportunity for aggressive and innovative action. Since the end of the Musharraf dictatorship, Pakistan has worked to confront the challenges of a young democracy facing an active insurgency, within the context of an international economic crisis. Ambassador Holbrooke will soon discover that Pakistan is far more than a rhetorical partner in the fight against extremism. Unlike in the 1980s, we are surrogates for no one. With all due respect, we need no lectures on our commitment. This is our war. It is our children and wives who are dying.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/
content/article/2009/01/27/AR200901
2702675.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

Related:
 Obama Picks New World “Winners” and “Losers”

Pakistan is World Leader in Anti-Terror Fight — Musharraf

 Pakistan Auditions For “New Start” in U.S. Policy, Funding From President Obama on CNN

Pakistan welcomes appointment of U.S. envoy

January 23, 2009

Pakistan welcomed on Friday the appointment of Richard Holbrooke as a special U.S. envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan while analysts said he would have to confront Pakistan-India tension if his aim was regional peace.

President Barack Obama appointed the foreign policy veteran on Thursday and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton later telephoned President Asif Ali Zardari to inform him of the decision, the Foreign Ministry said.

By Robert Birsel
Reuters

“Pakistan welcomes the appointment of Ambassador Holbrooke and looks forward to enhanced and fruitful engagement with the special envoy to further the cause of peace and stability in the region,” the ministry said in a statement.

Government spokesmen in Afghanistan were not available.

Holbrooke, a former ambassador to the United Nations who negotiated the 1995 peace agreement that ended the Bosnian war, faces an array of challenges in dealing with the war in Afghanistan and its tense and fragile border with Pakistan.

Obama has ordered a review of the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan. He promised during the campaign to bolster troop levels there to battle growing violence and a resurgent Taliban and al Qaeda.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20090123/p
l_nm/us_pakistan_afghan_usa_1