U.S. Senate gives approval to new START Treaty with Russia

December 22, 2010

The U.S. Senate has voted to end debate (as we previously reported) on a new arms control treaty with Russia. Several Republican senators supported the new START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) treaty in what would be a bipartisan success for U.S. President Barack Obama.

President Barack Obama attends a New START Treaty meeting hosted by Vice President Joe Biden in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Nov. 18, 2010. Seated with them, clockwise from left, are: former Secretaries of State James A. Baker III and Dr. Henry A. Kissinger; Vice Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. James E. Cartwright; former Secretary of State Dr. Madeleine Albright; former National Security Advisor Gen. Brent Scowcroft; former Secretary of Defense Dr. William Perry; Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel B. Poneman; Senator John F. Kerry, D-Mass; Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton; Senator Richard G. Lugar, R-Ind.; Deputy Assistant to the Vice President for National Security Affairs Brian P. McKeon. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama attends a New START Treaty meeting hosted by Vice President Joe Biden in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Nov. 18, 2010. Seated with them, clockwise from left, are: former Secretaries of State James A. Baker III and Dr. Henry A. Kissinger; Vice Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. James E. Cartwright; former Secretary of State Dr. Madeleine Albright; former National Security Advisor Gen. Brent Scowcroft; former Secretary of Defense Dr. William Perry; Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel B. Poneman; Senator John F. Kerry, D-Mass; Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton; Senator Richard G. Lugar, R-Ind.; Deputy Assistant to the Vice President for National Security Affairs Brian P. McKeon. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

U.S. Senate approval could smooth the way for further arms reductions beyond the limits set by START, which requires both sides to decrease stockpiles to 1,550 strategic warheads.

The text of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) signed in April 2010 can be read here.

In a Brookings paper released early this month, Steven Pifer, foreign policy analyst and former ambassador to Ukraine, argues that future arms reductions talks with Russia won’t be easy to negotiate, since Russia relies on tactical nuclear weapons to balance conventional imbalances with China and NATO.

Read full story.


Why the U.S. Senate should ratify new nuclear treaty with Russia

November 17, 2010

The U.S. Senate’s chief Republican negotiator on the New START Treaty, Senator Jon Kyl, announced early this week he will block the vote in this session.

A White House fact sheet on the treaty can be read here. Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton planned to meet with congressional leaders today to convince them to vote for the treaty’s passage.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates argue for New START’s passage in the following Washington Post op-ed.

“For decades, American inspectors have monitored Russian nuclear forces, putting into practice President Ronald Reagan’s favorite maxim, “Trust, but verify.” But since the old START Treaty expired last December, we have relied on trust alone. Until a new treaty comes into force, our inspectors will not have access to Russian missile silos and the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals will lack the stability that comes with a rigorous inspection regime.”

Read full story.


The Beginning of the End for NATO?

October 15, 2010

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the cuts to defense budgets in Britain and other European countries endangered the strength of NATO, which requires members to spend 2 percent of national income on defense.

“As nations deal with their economic problems, we must guard against the hollowing out of alliance military capability by spending reductions that cut too far into muscle,” Gates said. British Foreign Secretary William Hague rejected the concerns, saying Britain will remain a reliable U.S. ally. Britain’s planned cuts – which could shave off more than six hundred thousand public-sector jobs by 2015 – would make it the most aggressive deficit-reducer among major economies.

On STRATFOR, analyst Marko Papic says perceptions of the “threat environment” that unifies NATO have undermined in the post-Cold War era, marking the beginning of the end for the alliance.

Read full story.


Bob Woodward’s New Book: Obama’s Wars – in Afghanistan and within the White House

September 30, 2010

Top investigative reporter Bob Woodward reveals Obama’s exit strategy in Afghanistan against U.S. military and the State Department.

Bob Woodward's Book Says Afghanistan Divided The White House

Bob Woodward’s Book Says Afghanistan Divided The White House

George Friedman, founder of the private intelligence corporation Stratfor, says President Barack Obama is “not going to order a complete withdrawal of all combat forces any time soon – the national (and international) political alignment won’t support such a step. At the same time, remaining in Afghanistan is unlikely to achieve any goal and leaves potential rivals like China and Russia freer rein.”

In the Washington Post, an adaptation of Bob Woodward‘s new book Obama’s Wars describes President Obama’s long-held view that Afghanistan was threatened by a “cancer” in Pakistan, which was a safe haven where al-Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban could recruit Westerners whose passports allowed them to move freely in Europe and North America.

Bob Woodward reveals the conflicts within the White House through exhaustive accounts of two dozen closed-door secret strategy sessions and nearly 40 private conversations between Obama and Cabinet aides and intelligence officials.

Tensions frequently turned personal. National security adviser James L. Jones confidentially mentioned Obama’s political aides as “the water bugs,” the “Politburo,” the “Mafia,” or the “campaign set.” General David Petraeus, who felt excluded by the new administration, told an aide that he considered the president’s senior adviser David Axelrod to be “a complete spin doctor.”

Read full story.


Interview with ISAF Commander David Petraeus

September 20, 2010

Although violence in Afghanistan‘s parliamentary elections over the weekend could be a serious setback for U.S. efforts, some experts see an opportunity for change if the elections lead to serious conversations about corruption.

General David Howell Petraeus

General David Howell Petraeus

In the Hamburg weekly Der Spiegel, U.S. commander David Petraeus says despite polls that show 70 percent of the Afghan population has no confidence in their national parliament, other polls show “that Afghans are optimistic about their future.” There is “understandable concern about the pace of progress, which also means that there are high expectations.”

Read full story.


D-Day – June 6, 1944: The Meaning of the Supreme Sacrifice of Heroes and Guardians of Freedom

June 6, 2010

dday flags D-Day Message to the troops from Dwight D. Eisenhower

Let Our Hearts Be Stout – Roosevelt D-Day Prayer

My Fellow Americans,

Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our Allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.

And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:

Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.

They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest – until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men’s souls will be shaken with the violences of war.

For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and goodwill among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.

Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

And for us at home – fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas, whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them – help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.

Many people have urged that I call the nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.

Give us strength, too – strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.

And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.

And, O Lord, give us faith. Give us faith in Thee; faith in our sons; faith in each other; faith in our united crusade. Let not the keeness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment – let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogances. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace – a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

Thy will be done, Almighty God. Amen.

U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt – June 6, 1944


U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Ronald Burgess said Iran could build nuclear weapon in a year

April 21, 2010

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards are set to begin a three-day military drill in the Persian Gulf on April 22, during which Iranian-made missiles will be tested.

Meanwhile, at an hearing of the United States Senate Armed Services Committee on April 14, 2010, the director of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Lieutenant General Ronald Burgess, was asked how long it would take Iran to produce a single nuclear weapon. Burgess told the committee,”We’re talking one year.”

Read full story.


Europe’s Ash Cloud Response

April 19, 2010

European governments are facing criticism for their response to unprecedented air traffic disruptions caused by the ash of an erupting Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull.

In the Washington Post, columnist Anne Applebaum says the volcanic eruption could go on for months or years, changing the economics and politics of Europe.

Read full story.


Nuclear Posture Review Charts New U.S. Positions

April 7, 2010

The Obama administration‘s Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) charts new positions on potential targets of U.S. atomic weapons, preventing proliferation, and developing new weapons.

The 2010 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) outlines the Administration’s approach to promoting the President’s agenda for reducing nuclear dangers and pursuing the goal of a world without nuclear weapons, while simultaneously advancing broader U.S. security interests. The NPR reflects the President’s national security priorities and the supporting defense strategy objectives identified in the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review.

After describing fundamental changes in the international security environment, the NPR report focuses on five key objectives of our nuclear weapons policies and posture:

1. Preventing nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism;

2. Reducing the role of U.S. nuclear weapons in U.S. national security strategy;

3. Maintaining strategic deterrence and stability at reduced nuclear force levels;

4. Strengthening regional deterrence and reassuring U.S. allies and partners; and

5. Sustaining a safe, secure, and effective nuclear arsenal.”

Read full story.


Lessons for a Long War: How America Can Win on New Battlefields

March 1, 2010

AEI Press, April 2010, 180 pages, ISBN: 978-0-8447-4329-5

Lessons for a Long War is a publication of the Center for Defense Studies, a new arm of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) focused on strategic, budgetary, and programmatic analysis of defense policy issues.

As the guarantor of international security, the United States of America must commit to a long-term military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. But what are the tools necessary to succeed on the new battlefields of the Long War?

In this volume, a group of the foremost U.S. military officials and national security experts analyzes the American experience in Iraq and Afghanistan thus far in order to map a way forward – not only for the military, but also for diplomats, elected officials, the media and the public opinion.

Thomas Donnelly, Frederick W. Kagan, and their coauthors offer several core lessons for success in the Long War. They argue that decentralizing command is the key to efficient operations on an ever-changing battlefield; that airpower is the unsung hero of counterinsurgency warfare; that public opinion can influence crucial military decisions; and that the military should minimize its role in domestic affairs.

Finally, although the battlefields have changed over the last fifty years, the authors contend that America’s long-held counterinsurgency strategy – to foster political support at home, employ diplomacy overseas, and extend military assistance to allies – remains effective.

The Long War will not soon be over. But, in the words of retired Army Special Forces officer Colonel Robert Killebrew, the United States of America already has “the tools it needs in order to prevail in the wars of the twenty-first century.”

Thomas Donnelly is a resident fellow in defense and security policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute and director of AEI’s Center for Defense Studies. He previously served as policy group director and professional staff member for the U.S. House Committee on Armed Services.

Frederick W. Kagan is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and director of the AEI Critical Threats Project. He was formerly associate professor of military history at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
   
Contributors: Thomas Donnelly, Charles J. Dunlap, Jr., Peter D. Feaver, Frederick W. Kagan, Robert Killebrew, H. R. McMaster, Mackubin Thomas Owens

Media Contact: Veronique Rodman
American Enterprise Institute (AEI)
1150 Seventeenth Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: 202-862-4870
E-mail: VRodman@aei.org


U.S. Marines launch major offensive in Afghanistan since 2001

February 12, 2010

Thousands of U.S. Marines and Afghan soldiers traveling in helicopters and mine-resistant vehicles began punching into a key Taliban stronghold in southern Afghanistan as one of the largest operations since 2001 to assert government control over this country got underway.

Read full story.


XXI Annual U.S. Army War College Strategy Conference: Defining War for the 21st Century

February 4, 2010

The 2010 US Army War College Strategy Conference, “Defining War for the 21st Century,” brings together the world’s foremost experts to examine this critical issue of the post-September 11 world.

What is WAR and why does it matter?

The U.S. Army and the other Armed Services exist to fight and win America’s wars. In the current operational environment, the definition of “fighting and winning America’s wars” is the subject of intense debate. In its ongoing effort to stimulate intellectual discourse, to foster informed policymaking processes, and to develop effective U.S. strategy in the post-September 11 world, the U.S. Army War College will host its 21st Annual Strategy Conference from April 6-8, 2010. Many of the world’s foremost experts on the changing nature of war will attend and participate in this year’s conference titled, “Defining War for the 21st Century,” with the goal of clarifying the issues, outlining the debates, and generating strategic options.

The keynote speaker for this year’s conference is Gen (R) Anthony Zinni, USMC, and the tentative agenda includes five panels that will debate the essence of the following questions for the purpose of “Defining War for the 21st Century:”

  • Why does it matter how we define war?
  • How does a nation know it is at war?
  • Will all “wars” have discernable start and end points, or will some “wars” have no definable end?
  • What are the political and social implications when the political elite and general polity differ in their interpretations?
  • What are the dangers of misusing or overusing the “war” label?
  • Must a new “theory of war” be developed?
  • What are the dimensions of war – unrestricted war, lawfare, hybrid war, cold war, asymmetric war, cyber war?
  • What are the challenges in defining victory?

Register online.


Pakistan’s Nuclear Future

January 19, 2010

The risk of war between Pakistan and India and possible nuclear escalation would be bad enough, however, most American security experts are riveted on the frightening possibility of Pakistani nuclear weapons capabilities falling into the hands of terrorists intent on attacking the United States.

Unfortunately, a nuclear terrorist act is only one of several frightening security threats Pakistan now faces or poses.

A new book edited by Henry D. Sokolski, Executive Director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, takes a long look at these threats as possible. Its companion volume, Worries Beyond War, (2008) focused on the challenges of Pakistani nuclear terrorism. These analyses offer a window into what is possible and why Pakistani nuclear terrorism is best seen as a lesser included threat to war, and terrorism more generally. Could the United States do more with Pakistan to secure Pakistan’s nuclear weapons holdings against possible seizure? News reports indicate that the United States has already spent $100 million toward this end. It is unclear what this money has bought. If policymakers view the lack of specific intelligence on Pakistani nuclear terrorist plots against the United States as cold comfort and believe that such strikes are imminent, then the answer is not much. If, conventional acts of terrorism and war are far more likely than acts of nuclear terrorism, then there is almost too much to do. In the later case, nuclear terrorism would not be a primary, stand-alone peril, but a lesser included threat. What sort of Pakistan would that be? A country that was significantly more prosperous, educated, and far more secure against internal political strife and from external security threats than it currently is. How might one bring about such a state? The short answer is by doing more to prevent the worst. Nuclear use may not be the likeliest bad thing that might occur in Pakistan, but it is by far the nastiest. Certainly in the near- to mid-term, it is at least as likely as any act of nuclear terrorism. More important, it is more amenable to remediation.

Read full story.


UK Military Cuts

January 13, 2010

The British armed forces could be forced to contract by up to 20 percent by 2016 because of rising costs, according to the military think tank Royal United Services Institute (RUSI):

“Between 1988 and 2008, the core real defence budget fell by 9%. Yet this same period saw a fall in the number of ground formations by 28%, a reduction in available aircraft by 33%, and a reduction in major vessels by 47%. This growth in the unit cost of front-line capabilities – averaging 1.7% per annum – resulted from continuing efforts to improve the qualitative effectiveness of the armed forces. It also reflected the growing costs of attracting high-quality candidates into a military career at a time of rising earnings in the wider economy.”

Read full story.


The debate over intelligence services in Afghanistan

January 5, 2010
 
 

The lives of 83 fallen CIA officers are represented by 83 stars on the CIA Memorial Wall in the Original Headquarters building.

The lives of 83 fallen CIA officers are represented by 83 stars on the CIA Memorial Wall in the Original Headquarters building.

A U.S. military intelligence officer in Afghanistan, Major General Michael Flynn, Deputy Chief of Staff, Intelligence (CJ2), for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan since June 2009, sharply criticized the work of U.S. intelligence agencies in the country.

In a report issued yesterday by the Center for a New American Security, Flynn said intelligence agencies were still “unable to answer fundamental questions about the environment in which U.S. and allied forces operate and the people they are trying to protect and persuade.”

He said U.S. intelligence should focus less on al-Qaeda and the Taliban and look at the larger picture of how Afghanistan operates.

Read full story.

Update: Meanwhile, Jordanian officials say the Jordanian double agent, Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, who staged a suicide attack on a CIA base last week had supplied intelligence agencies with relevant leads about al-Qaeda plots, amid criticism that lax security procedures allowed the man to enter the CIA base.

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Check out also following stories:


YouTube War: Fighting in a World of Cameras in Every Cell Phone and Photoshop on Every Computer

December 5, 2009

“Modern wars are won on television screens and Internet websites. These are the battlefields that really matter, the arenas that frame the war and the scoreboards that determine the losers and the winners”. Gabriel Weimann in “Hezbollah Dot Com: Hezbollah’s Online Campaign”

Terrorist attacks are media events designed to draw the attention of the press, because the attack itself will have accomplished very little without being viewed by the larger audience provided by media coverage. One of the key goals of terrorists is to shape public attitudes and perceptions and ultimately to undermine the will to fight. Terrorists attempt to accomplish that goal through the manipulation of media coverage.

A paper written by Dr. Cori E. Dauber, Visiting Research Professor at the U.S. Army War College, methodically lays out the nature of this new environment in terms of its implications for a war against media-savvy insurgents, and then considers possible courses of action for the U.S. military strategists as they seek to respond to an enemy that has proven enormously adaptive to this new environment and the new type of warfare it enables.

Read full story.


The case for a fully resourced counterinsurgency strategy for Afghanistan

November 30, 2009

Press release

Washington D.C. – November 30, 2009 – President Obama’s much-anticipated decision about sending additional troops to Afghanistan comes after several months of vigorous public discourse about the appropriate strategy for achieving success in that country. The Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI) has been active in this debate, releasing a fact sheet, organizing an open letter to the president, and hosting conferences to further the discussion about the way forward in Afghanistan.

During the time that President Obama has been mulling General McChrystal’s request for additional troops, a number of politicians, advisors, and analysts have put forth various arguments against a significant increase in troop strength and a counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy in Afghanistan. The arguments, when closely considered, expose a default resistance to completing the mission, not a thoughtful dismantling of the pro “surge” case. FPI’s fact sheet lists the most popular critiques of General Stanley McChrystal’s COIN strategy and resource request, each followed by clear refutations from relevant experts. The fact sheet is available here.

In September 2009, in an open letter to President Obama organized by FPI, a distinguished group of Americans active in the foreign policy debate expressed support for the U.S. effort in Afghanistan and called upon President Obama to continue to provide the necessary resources requested by his commanders on the ground to ensure success. The group of experts offered their appreciation for the president’s decision earlier this year to deploy 21,000 additional U.S. troops to the country and urged him to continue to properly resource the continued war effort. Amidst increasing public concern about the U.S. commitment in Afghanistan, the letter also suggested that the President make it a priority to explain to the American people why it is important to remain committed to winning in Afghanistan, and why such a victory is feasible. The text of the letter is available here.

Afghanistan has also been a prominent topic of FPI’s public events. At the 2009 FPI Forum on “Advancing and Defending Democracy,” two panels discussed the path forward in Afghanistan. One session addressed the military dimensions of the war and the other panel, featuring Amb. Zalmay Khalilzad, Rep. Mark Kirk, and Gen. Mark Kimmitt, focused on the political debate in Washington and around the country.

In August 2009, FPI’s Director for Democracy and Human Rights, Ellen Bork, served as an election monitor in Ghazni Province. She wrote about her experience in an article for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, “What I Saw While Afghanistan Voted,” which is available here.

In March 2009, shortly after the President announced his intention to send an additional 21,000 troops to Afghanistan FPI hosted a half-day conference, “Afghanistan: Planning for Success,” which featured remarks from Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), and then-Rep. John McHugh (R-NY), who has since been nominated by President Obama to serve as Secretary of the Army, as well as Frederick Kagan, John Nagl, and Gen. David Barno. Transcripts, video, and summaries from this conference can be found here.

FPI staff including Executive Director Jamie Fly, Policy Advisor Abe Greenwald, and Director for Democracy and Human Rights Ellen Bork are available to discuss the President’s speech on Tuesday.  Interview requests should be submitted to Rachel Hoff at the contact information listed below.

For more information, contact:
Rachel Hoff: Tel.: + 001 202 296-3322
Director of External Affairs
rhoff@foreignpolicyi.org

***

About FPI

FPI is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that seeks to promote an active U.S. foreign policy committed to robust support for democratic allies, human rights, a strong American military equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st century, and global economic competitiveness. The organization is led by Executive Director Jamie Fly. FPI was founded by Robert Kagan, William Kristol, and Dan Senor.


British Army Hero Tells UN Human Rights Council: ‘Israeli Defense Forces Most Moral Army in History of Warfare’

October 16, 2009

Today’s emergency United Nations Human Rights Council debate in Geneva on the Goldstone Report predictably saw a line-up of the world’s worst abusers condemn democratic Israel for human rights violations.

In a heated lynch mob atmosphere, Kuwait slammed Israel for “intentional killing, intentional destruction of civilian objects, intentional scorched-earth policy”, saying Israel “embodied the Agatha Christie novel, ‘Escaped with Murder’. Pakistan said the “horrors of Israeli occupation continue to haunt the international community’s conscience.” The Arab League said, “We must condemn Israel and force Israel to accept international legitimacy.” Ahmadinejad’s Iran said “the atrocities committed against Palestinians during the aggressions on Gaza should be taken seriously” and followed up by the international community “to put an end to absolute impunity and defiance of the law.”

What the world’s assembled representatives did not expect, however, was the speech that followed (see video and text below), organized by UN Watch. The speaker is a man who repeatedly put his life on the line to defend the democratic world from the murderous Saddam Hussein, Al Qaeda, and the Taliban. The moment he began his first sentence, the room simply fell silent. Judge Goldstone, author of the biased report that prompted today’s one-sided condemnation, had refused to hear Colonel Kemp’s testimony during his “fact-finding” hearings.

But UN Watch made sure today that this hero’s voice would be heard – at the United Nations, and around the world.

***

UN Human Rights Council, 12th Special Session
Debate on Goldstone Report – Geneva, October 16, 2009

Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Did More to Safeguard Civilians Than Any Army in History of Warfare

Colonel Richard Kemp served in the British Army from 1977 - 2006.
Colonel Richard Kemp served in the British Army from 1977 – 2006.

Thank you, Mr. President.

I am the former commander of the British forces in Afghanistan. I served with NATO and the United Nations; commanded troops in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Macedonia; and participated in the Gulf War. I spent considerable time in Iraq since the 2003 invasion, and worked on international terrorism for the UK Government’s Joint Intelligence Committee.

Mr. President, based on my knowledge and experience, I can say this: During Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli Defence Forces did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.

Israel did so while facing an enemy that deliberately positioned its military capability behind the human shield of the civilian population.

Hamas, like Hizballah, are expert at driving the media agenda. Both will always have people ready to give interviews condemning Israeli forces for war crimes. They are adept at staging and distorting incidents.

The IDF faces a challenge that we British do not have to face to the same extent. It is the automatic, Pavlovian presumption by many in the international media, and international human rights groups, that the IDF are in the wrong, that they are abusing human rights.

The truth is that the IDF took extraordinary measures to give Gaza civilians notice of targeted areas, dropping over 2 million leaflets, and making over 100,000 phone calls. Many missions that could have taken out Hamas military capability were aborted to prevent civilian casualties. During the conflict, the IDF allowed huge amounts of humanitarian aid into Gaza. To deliver aid virtually into your enemy’s hands is, to the military tactician, normally quite unthinkable. But the IDF took on those risks.

Despite all of this, of course innocent civilians were killed. War is chaos and full of mistakes. There have been mistakes by the British, American and other forces in Afghanistan and in Iraq, many of which can be put down to human error. But mistakes are not war crimes.

More than anything, the civilian casualties were a consequence of Hamas’ way of fighting. Hamas deliberately tried to sacrifice their own civilians.

Mr. President, Israel had no choice apart from defending its people, to stop Hamas from attacking them with rockets.

And I say this again: the IDF did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.

Thank you, Mr. President.


How We Can Win in Afghanistan

October 14, 2009
 

U.S. Soldiers with the 101st Division Special Troops Battalion, 101st Airborne Division watch as two Chinook helicopters fly in to take them back to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, November 4, 2008.

U.S. Soldiers with the 101st Division Special Troops Battalion, 101st Airborne Division watch as two Chinook helicopters fly in to take them back to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, November 4, 2008.

The most pressing issue on the U.S. president’s agenda today is whether he will commit more troops to Afghanistan – the “good war.”

In an article published in the November issue of Commentary Magazine, military historian Max Boot brings all his expertise to bear on explaining how the U.S. can win in that Taliban-plagued country.

But first we have to win the battle at home – the battle to convince Barack Obama to learn the right lessons from history and to heed the wise counsel of his own general, Stanley A. McChrystal.

Read full story.


General Stanley A. McChrystal’s military strategy in Afghanistan

October 6, 2009
General Stanley A. McChrystal‘s review of U.S. military strategy in Afghanistan, in which the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan calls for an increase in troops, can be read here.

The Washington Post also reports on the military debate over whether to withdraw from isolated rural parts of Afghanistan where U.S. troops are more vulnerable to attack and refocus on urban centers.

Read full story.

President Barack Obama meets with General Stanley A. McChrystal, in the Oval Office at the White House, May 19, 2009.

President Barack Obama meets with General Stanley A. McChrystal, in the Oval Office at the White House, May 19, 2009.


French-Israeli Soldier Gilad Shalit seen for the first time in a Hamas videotape

October 3, 2009

Following Gilad Shalit family’s authorization, video of Gilad Shalit received from Hamas in exchange for prisoner release distributed to news agencies as sign of life, more than three years since soldier captured.


USA, UK and France Tell Iran to Open Nuke Site

September 26, 2009

The New York Times reports that U.S. President Obama and the leaders of UK and France will accuse Iran of building a secret underground plant to manufacture nuclear fuel, saying the country has hidden the covert operation from international weapons inspectors for years, according to senior administration officials. 

The revelation, which the three leaders will make before the opening of the Group of 20 economic summit in Pittsburgh, appears bound to add urgency to the diplomatic confrontation with Iran over its suspected ambitions to build a nuclear weapons capacity. Mr. Obama, along with Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, will demand that Iran allow the International Atomic Energy Agency to conduct an immediate inspection of the facility, which is said to be 100 miles southwest of Tehran. 

U.S. officials said that they had been tracking the covert project for years, but that Mr. Obama decided to make public the American findings after Iran discovered, in recent weeks, that Western intelligence agencies had breached the secrecy surrounding the project.

On Monday, Iran wrote a brief, cryptic letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency, saying that it now had a ‘pilot plant’ under construction, whose existence it had never before revealed. In a statement from its headquarters in Vienna yesterday, the atomic agency confirmed that it had been told by Iran that a new pilot fuel enrichment plant is under construction in the country.

Read full story.


The United States commemorates 9/11 anniversary

September 11, 2009

Memorial services in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania commemorate the anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks. Eight years ago, al-Qaeda terrorists from Hamburg, Germany, hijacked planes and crashed them into the World Trade Center tower, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania, killing 2,752 people.

The New York Times notes “the fortress city,” many New Yorkers feared to protect against a future attacks, never came to pass.

In an op-ed published in The Wall Street Journal, Fouad Ajami, adjunct fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, discusses the relationship between 9/11 and the U.S. war in Afghanistan.

Read full story.


Festival Interceltique 2009 – Bagad de Lann-Bihoué

August 17, 2009

festival-interceltique2009

Ensemble traditionnel de musique bretonne, le bagad de Lann-Bihoué a vu le jour en 1952 sur la base aéronautique navale de Lann-Bihoué, près de Lorient.

Cette formation musicale militaire est unique en son genre. En effet, elle est la seule à représenter à la fois la Marine nationale française et la culture celtique avec un répertoire bigarré dans le cadre de diverses manifestations nationales et internationales, notamment lors du 39ème Festival Interceltique, qui s’est déroulé du 31 juillet au 9 août 2009.


USA to resume training Georgian troops

August 13, 2009

The United States will resume training Georgia troops to prepare them for service in Afghanistan, despite the possibility that the move could anger Russia. Pentagon officials say the training will not cover skills that would be useful for fighting Russia’s military.

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Lockerbie bomber may be freed

August 13, 2009

Several news reports say Britain will release from a Scottish prison Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, a former Libyan secret service agent convicted of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing that killed 270 people. Scottish Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill denied the reports that a decision has already been made, but said he is taking into consideration whether al-Megrahi, who has terminal cancer, should be freed on compassionate grounds.

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The reports that al-Megrahi would be released aroused ardent debate between family members of the Lockerbie victims. Al-Megrahi is serving a life sentence for the December 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie. Most of the victims were U.S. citizens.

Reuters considers the implications of al-Megrahi’s release for Libya.

The Times of London looks at divisions between U.S. and British relatives of Lockerbie victims over the news that al-Megrahi may be freed, noting that many British family members have long doubted his guilt and are supporting his release.

The BBC has an audio slideshow of the Lockerbie bombing.

The Guardian profiles al-Megrahi.


Former U.S. President Bill Clinton in North Korea

August 4, 2009
 

John Fitzgerald Kennedy shaking hands with teenager Bill Clinton.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy shaking hands with teenager Bill Clinton.

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton made a surprise visit to North Korea to try to convince the government to liberate two imprisoned U.S. journalists.

The journalists – Euna Lee and Laura Ling, of U.S. media outlet Current TV – were arrested on the North Korea-China border in March. The women were sentenced to twelve years of hard labour for entering the country illegally and for “hostile acts.”

Bill Clinton is well respected in North Korea, as he almost visited Pyongyang toward the end of his presidency, and because he met with North Korea’s top military commander, Jo Myong-rok, in Washington in 2000. North Korea and the United States also made a deal to freeze plutonium-based nuclear reactor at Yongbyon under the Clinton administration.

Former South Korean government official Park Chan-bong tells the Wall Street Journal the talks will probably serve as a launching point for bilateral discussions between the two countries.

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