Posts tagged "Afghan War"

(via On CBS’s Face The Nation, Marco Rubio Accuses Obama Of ‘Emboldening The Taliban’)

WASHINGTON — Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on Sunday charged President Barack Obama with “emboldening the Taliban,” citing details from a new book by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates that harshly criticizes the president’s leadership in the war in Afghanistan.

"I don’t think we can ignore what’s in that book, and I think for many of us it confirms our worst fears," Rubio said on CBS’ "Face the Nation." "And that is that this is an administration full of people that either have the wrong convictions or, in the case of former Secretary Clinton, lack the courage of her convictions."

Rubio pointed to parts of Gates’ book that suggest Obama didn’t feel that the war in Afghanistan was his war, and that his decision to pull out troops was political.

"You saw that reflected in the decision that [Obama] made," Rubio continued. "At the same time that he announced the surge, he also announced an exit date and strategy, thereby emboldening the Taliban to believe they could wait us out.”

The Florida senator, whose name has been floated as a 2016 presidential contender, said Obama’s actions on Afghanistan have had international repercussions.

"Our allies see us as unreliable, and our enemies feel emboldened," Rubio said. "I think that this confirms our worst fears, that this is an administration that lacks a strategic foreign policy and, in fact, is largely driven by politics and tactics."

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration says it might leave no troops in Afghanistan after December 2014, an option that defies the Pentagon’s view that thousands of troops may be needed to contain al-Qaida and to strengthen Afghan forces.

"We wouldn’t rule out any option," including zero troops, Ben Rhodes, a White House deputy national security adviser, said Tuesday.

"The U.S. does not have an inherent objective of ‘X’ number of troops in Afghanistan," Rhodes said. "We have an objective of making sure there is no safe haven for al-Qaida in Afghanistan and making sure that the Afghan government has a security force that is sufficient to ensure the stability of the Afghan government."

The U.S. now has 66,000 troops in Afghanistan, down from a peak of about 100,000 as recently as 2010. The U.S. and its NATO allies agreed in November 2010 that they would withdraw all their combat troops by the end of 2014, but they have yet to decide what future missions will be necessary and how many troops they would require.

At stake is the risk of Afghanistan’s collapse and a return to the chaos of the 1990s that enabled the Taliban to seize power and provide a haven for Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida network. Fewer than 100 al-Qaida fighters are believed to remain in Afghanistan, although a larger number are just across the border in Pakistani sanctuaries.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said he foresees a need for a U.S. counterterrorism force in Afghanistan beyond 2014, plus a contingent to train Afghan forces. He is believed to favor an option that would keep about 9,000 troops in the country.

His statement could be interpreted as part of an administration negotiating strategy. On Friday Afghan President Hamid Karzai is scheduled to meet President Barack Obama at the White House to discuss ways of framing an enduring partnership beyond 2014.

The two are at odds on numerous issues, including a U.S. demand that any American troops who would remain in Afghanistan after the combat mission ends be granted immunity from prosecution under Afghan law. Karzai has resisted, while emphasizing his need for large-scale U.S. support to maintain an effective security force after 2014.

In announcing last month in Kabul that he had accepted Obama’s invitation to visit this week, Karzai made plain his objectives.

"Give us a good army, a good air force and a capability to project Afghan interests in the region," Karzai said, and he would gladly reciprocate by easing the path to legal immunity for U.S. troops.

Karzai is scheduled to meet Thursday with Panetta at the Pentagon and with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at the State Department.

Without explicitly mentioning immunity for U.S. troops, Obama’s top White House military adviser on Afghanistan, Doug Lute, told reporters Tuesday that the Afghans will have to give the U.S. certain “authorities” if it wants U.S. troops to remain.

Rhodes said Obama remains committed to further reducing the U.S. military presence this year, although the pace of that withdrawal will not be decided for a few months.

h/t: AP.org

Mitt Romney has spent considerable effort trying to avoid foreign policy and national security this campaign season. But when he’s had to engage, he’s forced to strike a delicate balance between satisfying his neocon advisers and right-wing war base on the one hand — while speaking to the rest of the country, which has no appetite for the militaristic Republican policies that have plagued this country since 2001, on the other.

In recent weeks, Romney made good on a promise he made earlier this year to a wealthy donor that he would try to exploit a foreign policy crisis for political gain. “If something of that nature presents itself,” Romney said, referring to the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979, “I will work to find a way to take advantage of the opportunity.” With the attack that killed four Americans at the U.S diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya last month, Romney has done just that.

The basis of Romney’s foreign policy critique of President Obama is that Obama went around the world and apologized for America after he became president. Of course, this never happened, but the baseless attack has been a hallmark from Romney’s campaign with respect to foreign policy.

– Romney accused President Obama of “mission creep” and “mission muddle” in Libya. “Military action cannot be under-deliberated and ad hoc,” he said. Libyan rebels ousted then-Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi five months later. (In his book, Romney attacked Obama for appeasing Qaddafi.) [4/21/2011]

– Romney announces he is officially running for president and, in doing so, chides Obama for “leading from behind” in Libya. One wonders if Romney would criticize Nelson Mandela, who once said: “It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.” [6/02/2011]

– Romney says he will let the generals dictate his Afghanistan policy. “I want those troops to come home based upon not politics, not based upon economics, but instead based upon the conditions on the ground determined by the generals,” he said. [6/13/2011]

– Romney continues his call for Obama to ramp up the war rhetoric on Iran. [9/15/2011]

– Romney said the U.S. should “reconsider” its relationship with countries that supported Palestine’s bid for U.N. recognition: that could have included Russia, China, India, Brazil, South Africa and the Non-Aligned Movement, a U.N. block consisting of 118 members, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Pakistan, Chile and Peru. [9/28/2011]

– Romney said he would start foreign aid for every country “at zero” and call on them to make their case for U.S. financial assistance. [11/10/2011]

The Washington Post fact-checker debunks Romney’s oft-repeated claim that Obama “went around the world and apologized for America.” “Take it from us,” the Post concluded, “The apology tour never happened.” [12/10/2011]

– Mitt’s Cold War mentality continues. Russia “is without question our number one geopolitical foe,” he says on CNN, sparking ridicule from foreign policy experts of all stripes. [3/26/2012]

– Vice President Biden states the obvious: Romney “seems to be uninformed” on foreign policy. [4/01/2012]

– Former Bush administration Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell asks Romney to be more “mature” when talking foreign policy and criticized Romney for calling Russia America’s “number one geopolitical foe.” “Come on Mitt,” Powell said, “think.” Powell also said of Mitt’s advisers: “I don’t know who all of his advisers are but I’ve seen some of the names and some of them are quite far to the right.” ThinkProgress took an in-depth look into some of Romney’s far-right foreign policy advisers here. [5/23/2012]
– The Romney Stimulus: military spending creates jobs, other government spending does not. [7/25/2012]

– Romney breaks with every GOP president, pledging to never criticize Israel. [7/29/2012]

– Romney Shambles. Romney ventures to Europe and Israel in an effort to boost his standing on foreign policy issues. But the trip turns out to be a disaster. Romney ends up offending the Britishre-living the Cold War in Poland and claiming Israelis are superior to Palestinians. [7/27 - 8/1/2012]

– International media criticize Romney’s foreign trip. ‘The Republican has done damage.” Even Republicans mock his trip: “Seemed like a good idea at the time.” Another Republican says “it made him look like Rip Van Winkle.” [7/31/2012]

– Romney refuses to condemn Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-MN) widely criticized anti-Muslim witch hunt. Bachmann claimed that a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is part of a Muslim Brotherhood plot to infiltrate the U.S. government. [8/3/2012]

– Romney spends just 202 words on foreign policy during his Republican National Convention speech. Most of Romney’s foreign policy claims were false and misleading. [8/30/2012]

– Romney accuses President Obama of “sympathizing” with the attackers that killed four Americans in an assault on a U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya. Romney had said at a fundraiser in early 2012 that he would try to capitalize politically on a future foreign policy crisis. “If something of that nature presents itself, I will work to find a way to take advantage of the opportunity,” he said. (Romney himself had previously warned against placing blame after a terror attack.) [9/11/2012]

– Romney doesn’t back away from that statement the next day and his campaign even blamed Obama for the attacks. Romney is widely criticized for politicizing the event, even by Republicans. [9/12/2012]

– In a newly released video from a fundraiser in early 2012, Romney is caught saying “there’s just no way” to achieve Middle East peace and that his policy will be to “kick the can down the the field and hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve it.” [9/18/2012]

– The head of the Office of Legal Counsel under President George W. Bush concluded that any return to the use of torture or any other so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” would be both “indisputably illegal” and strongly opposed by the interrogators who would be tasked with the torturing. [10/03/2012]

– ThinkProgress outlines four key areas where Romney’s alleged “new” foreign policy is identical to Obama’s. [10/08/2012]

– Top Romney surrogate Rudy Giuliani says Romney “should be exploiting” the Libya attack for political gain. [10/15/2012]

– The Romney team claims the Obama administration is deliberately misleading the public on the Libya attack. [10/16/2012]

– CNN’s Candy Crowley fact checks Romney’s false claim during his debate with Obama that Obama waited 14 days to call the Libya attack an “act of terror.” (Obama actually called the incident terrorism well before Romney did.) [10/16/2012]

– Obama is still outpacing Romney in military donations. [10/17/2012]

– Romney is again widely criticized for again politicizing the Libya attacks. Richard Clarke, who served as the top counter-terror official in Republican and Democratic administrations, lambasted Romney: “If there were not a presidential campaign going on, a campaign in which the incumbent has a stellar record of fighting terrorism, I doubt Romney would care about the details of what happened in Benghazi.” [10/17/2012]

h/t: Ben Armbruster at Think Progress Security

CHARLOTTE — Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), considered a shortlist candidate to be secretary of state if Democrats hold the White House, offered a robust defense of President Obama’s national security record and an equally blistering critique of Mitt Romney’s limited resume.

“We’ve all learned Mitt Romney doesn’t know much about foreign policy,” Kerry said. “But he has all these neocon advisers who know all the wrong things about foreign policy. He would rely on them — after all, he’s the great outsourcer.”

For Kerry, the speech was at least in part an exorcism of his own foreign policy demons. As the Democratic nominee two election cycles back, Kerry was savaged as a “flip flopper” at the Republicans’ 2004 convention. This time, Kerry clearly relished the chance to do the same to another Massachusetts nominee often tagged with the same epithet.

In the most brutal section of his speech, Kerry highlighted Romney’s mixed messages on a timetable for withdrawal from Afghanistan and military intervention in Libya.

“It isn’t fair to say Mitt Romney doesn’t have a position on Afghanistan — he has every position,” Kerry said. “He was against setting a date for withdrawal, then he said it was right and then he left the impression that maybe it was wrong to leave this soon. He said it was ‘tragic’ to leave Iraq, and then he said it was fine. He said we should’ve intervened in Libya sooner. Then he ran down a hallway to duck reporters’ questions. Then he said the intervention was too aggressive. Then he said the world was a ‘better place’ because the intervention succeeded.”

He didn’t let up on the flip-flop theme, waiting for the applause to subside before delivering one of the best received lines at the convention.

“Mr. Romney — here’s a little advice,” he said. “Before you debate Barack Obama on foreign policy, you better finish the debate with yourself!”

“Sarah Palin said she could see Russia from Alaska,” he said. “Mitt Romney talks like he’s only seen Russia by watching ‘Rocky IV.’”

As for Obama, Kerry praised him for his combination of diplomacy to bring America’s allies closer and military force to repel its enemies. Equally as important, he contrasted him with Romney as an honest broker who kept his promise to leave Iraq, will keep his promise to leave Afghanistan,and wasn’t kidding around when he said in 2008 he’d take the war to al-Qaeda.

“After more than 10 years without justice for thousands of Americans murdered on Sept. 11, after Mitt Romney said it would be ‘naive’ to go into Pakistan to pursue the terrorists, it took President Obama, against the advice of many, to give that order to finally rid this earth of Osama bin Laden,” Kerry said. “Ask Osama bin Laden if he is better off now than he was four years ago!”

While the election has overwhelmingly focused on the economy, with some social issues popping up, Mitt Romney has been a strong critic of the White House on foreign policy. His book “No Apology” in its title alone was a rebuke of what Republicans claim was an “apology tour” by Obama to repair relations abroad after President Bush’s unpopular administration. Romney and other Republicans also frequently suggest Obama doesn’t believe in “American exceptionalism,” a phrase that’s come into vogue on the right.

H/T: Benjy Sarlin at TPM

Here’s solid irrefutable proof that Dumbya destroyed the economy.

Indeed, the country is still reeling from Bush’s disastrous economic stewardship. His irresponsible tax cuts and deregulatory policies have contributed significantly to the slow recovery and are partly responsible for the nation’s economic plight. Here are 5 reasons why:

1. Deregulated Wall Street: It was a great time to be a Wall Street executive during the Bush administration. Sweeping financial deregulation helped build the housing bubble and allowed financial institutions to pursue risky trades unchecked. In fact, Bush eliminated the rules that allowed Wall Street to cause the financial crash that plunged the nation into the Great Recession.

2. Cut Taxes For The Wealthy: The Bush tax cuts — over 50 percent of which benefited the richest 5 percent of American taxpayers — cost about $2.5 trillion over the decade after they were enacted. Ten years later, Bush’s tax cuts are still the main driving factor of the national debt:

3. Ran Up A Tab On Two Wars: The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost the country trillions of dollars. Combined with Bush’s tax cuts, war spending was amain factor in blowing up the deficit and spending the surplus accumulated under Clinton. Lawmakers now use the deficit as an excuse for inaction.

4. Left Homeowners In A Lurch: While Bush was happy to help out the banks in the wake of the housing crisis, he did little to assist struggling homeowners.Hope For Homeowners, Bush’s proposal to assist those struggling with their mortgages, was a colossal failure; in its first six months, it helped just one homeowner renegotiate his mortgage. Many mortgage holders — 15.7 million or, one in three — are still underwater today.

5. Weakened Workers: Bush weakened worker safety regulations and collective bargaining rights under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Department of Labor throughout his time in office. Today, corporations are back to making record profits, while workers’ incomes are falling.

h/t: Tara Culp-Ressler and Annie-Rose Strasser at Think Progress Economy

cognitivedissonance:

One in three U.S. veterans of the post-9/11 military believes the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were not worth fighting, and a majority think that after 10 years of combat America should be focusing less on foreign affairs and more on its own problems, according to an opinion survey released Wednesday.

The findings highlight a dilemma for the Obama administration and Congress as they struggle to shrink the government’s huge budget deficits and reconsider defense priorities while trying to keep public support for remaining involved in Iraq and Afghanistan for the longer term.

Somehow, I don’t think the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is the morale issue… 

(via truth-has-a-liberal-bias)