Zardari – Mr. 10% available anywhere, anytime except in his own country which is in a state of veritable civil war — how much time has he spent away from the levers of power since the Swat campaign began? Guess who’s in charge in Pakistan: Still the Army.
Ahmadinejad – He’s saying, “Look at me Bibi! Here’s my brother who already has nukes … Suck It.”
According to the Associated Press, military commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan are giving President Barack Obama the reasoning he needs to take a log off of the torture fire.
An Obama administration official said Wednesday that the president told his legal advisers last week that releasing the photos would endanger U.S. troops. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussions were private.
Obama wants the issue to go back to the courts, although federal appeals judges have ruled the photos could be released.
Is this political expediency?
Missed this last week – worth a watch if you’re monitoring the mess that is Af-Pak.
(Source: NBC’s Meet the Press)
MR. DAVID GREGORY (HOST): … But first, the presidents of Pakistan and Afghanistan. I sat down with both leaders earlier this week after their White House meetings. Pakistan’s President Zardari, in office for the last eight months, is the widower of slain Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. I began by asking about the Taliban and whether he agrees with the Obama administration that the group represents an existential threat to his country.
MR. ASIF ALI ZARDARI: No, I consider the philosophy of Taliban as threat to the world, not just to Pakistan and your country, but I feel it’s a larger threat.
MR. GIBBS: Here for the p.m. edition of the White House briefing.
Q Make this a habit.
MR. GIBBS: Yes — keep you guys busy.
The President has obviously concluded the meetings with President Karzai and President Zardari. And as promised, we’ll give a — get a readout from General Jones, the President’s National Security Advisor.
GENERAL JONES: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I’m pleased to be here to talk a little bit about the meetings that were held this afternoon that you’ve already heard quite a bit about. I’d just like to add a couple of points to those that have been already been made.
Some say don’t think all Iranians believe what they’re president says — the Iranian people love America. It’s just that nasty little brute of a president they’ve got runs his mouth.
Well folks, as an American who “loves” other countries and their people, I know we all got the ultimate bad rap for around six of Bush’s years. The reason why of course is that leaders matter, especially when they’re elected by the people. Leaders make decisions and carry out policies that affect people outside of their own borders.
The Iranians have an opportunity to send Mahmoud Ahmadinejad back under a rock in a few weeks. If they don’t, he’s still speaking for all of them. We had the same opportunity in 2004. Let me just say to my Iranian friends tonight: If you vote this guy back in, things can get worse.
At any rate here’s what Ahmadinejad had to say today, courtesy of AFP:
On the United States:
Ahmadinejad, whose visit to Damascus came as Defence Secretary Robert Gates toured US allies in the region to reassure them about overtures to the Tehran regime by President Barack Obama, hit out at the continuing US military presence on Iran’s borders.
“They weren’t invited in. They’re unwelcome visitors who should leave Afghanistan and the borders of Pakistan,” the Iranian president said.
“We don’t want honey from bees that sting us. Efforts must be made to rid the region of the presence of foreigners… and to reform the unjust global political and economic system.”
Ahmadinejad said Iran and Syria were standing together to “resist foreign intervention and the major powers trying to impose their hegemony over the region.”
The United States “has put pressure on Syria and Iran, but it needs us and wants to develop relations,” he said.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad slammed Zionism as “occupation” and “aggression” Tuesday as he delivered his latest diatribe against the Jewish state on a visit to key Middle East ally Syria.
“The Zionist occupiers are destructive microbes, because Zionism itself is occupation, aggression, the use of assassination and annihilation,” he told a joint news conference with President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian capital.
“Zionism was created to threaten us. To support the Palestinian resistance is a humanitarian and popular obligation,” Ahmadinejad said in remarks in Farsi that were translated into Arabic.
“Syria and Iran are united in supporting the Palestinian resistance.”
Could a storyline leaked to the New York Times’ front page on Monday signal an end to America’s codependence on an untrustworthy Pakistan?
Despite the erratic behavior of the Pervez Musharraf government for most of George W. Bush’s presidency, of the Big Worry — Pakistan’s nukes — we were always told, no problem. I can remember Pentagon and Bush Administration officials speaking cryptically of fail-safe mechanisms which would keep the weapons or nuclear material from ever falling into the wrong hands.
From the moment I heard that President Barack Obama is thinking he may be able to treat the Taliban like the U.S. handled Sunni shaikhs and tribal elders in Iraq, I didn’t like it.
Many Sunnis in Iraq were not long-time sympathizers with the likes of al-Qaeda and its twisted view of Islam and nihilistic world view. Sure, many of them threw in their lot with al-Qaeda in Iraq, but at the time I believe that was perhaps an action rooted in self preservation. The U.S. took out the despotic Saddam Hussein regime and in the process created a vacuum where the Shia majority began having its way with the Sunni minority. It was retribution in large part for the Sunni’s own political subjugation of the Shia and Kurds for decades. By the time of the “Surge” and General David Petraeus’ more effective counter-insurgency tactics, the Iraqi Sunni flirtation with al-Qaeda was already losing steam. Many of the tribal elders were ready to work with U.S. military and civilian leaders to rid themselves of the terrorists. Again, these Sunnis could perhaps be described as more passionate about their tribal affiliations and regionalism than to the specific Islamic theology which al-Qaeda bases its terror campaigns on.
The Taliban are altogether different. The Taliban actually ran their own state for a time according to a fundamentalist view of Islam and Shari’a laws which forbid the participation of women and girls in society, outlawed cultural expression, and turned education into the madrasa system where boys learn little more than rote memorization of the Koran and are programmed for violent jihad. There were public executions for those who did not conform and rape and pillage tactics used to spread their “government” throughout Afghanistan.
(Source: NBC News’ Meet the Press)
MR. GREGORY: Senator McCain, welcome back to MEET THE PRESS.
SEN. JOHN McCAIN (R-AZ): Thanks, David.
MR. GREGORY: Very, very nice to have you here.
SEN. McCAIN: Nice to be back.
MR. GREGORY: You just heard Secretary Geithner. What’s your level of confidence in him?
SEN. McCAIN: Well, I have some confidence in him. I think he’s very smart. And I hope that this new plan–which, by the way, I thought was well-described…
MR. GREGORY: Good.
SEN. McCAIN: …earlier–will work. My preference would have been to go in and, you know, with stress testing these banks and go ahead and sell off the–take the toxic assets and sell them off, and then let the good asset banks continue. But this proposal, I hope it works. We all want it to work. But what I’m most worried about is laying a debt on future generations of Americans. The, the multitrillion-dollar debts, unprecedented debts that we are–we are committing generational theft. I’m confident that the economy will recover. The question is after it recovers, what kind of a debt are we going to carry which will cause us to print money, inflation, and go through a worse wringing out than we went in the late 1970s and early ’80s?
Encouraging stance on the aid we give to Pakistan. It’s been well-documented that much of the billions which have been directed to Pakistan since 9/11 has disappeared down a rat hole. In a briefing today in Washington, President Obama’s point man on Afghan-Pak policy, Bruce Riedel, said that U.S. funds will be more closely monitored this time:
Q Thank you. The President mentioned the Kerry-Lugar bill, billions of dollars’ worth of aid to Pakistan. He also said that Pakistan won’t be given a blank check. So I’m wondering what restrictions does the administration want to see on that money specifically?
And also, how do you react to statements from some senators, such as Senator Levin, who have said that this strategy places too much dependence on the Pakistani government to deal with extremists, and perhaps gives too much of a reliance on them to help us make progress in Afghanistan?
MR. RIEDEL: I’m not going to comment on Senator Levin’s remarks. I’ll say this: For the last eight years, Pakistan received billions of dollars in support from the United States — much of it was unaccountable; much the Pakistanis don’t even know where it went.
As the President indicated in his speech, we’re going to make sure that there is rigorous oversight by an Inspector General’s office. And we’re going to work very, very intensively with our Pakistani partners, the democratically elected civilian leadership in Pakistan, to see that we’re moving in the right direction, in the same direction that we want to go.
(Source: White House Transcript)
(Source: New York Times)
Good morning. Today, I am announcing a comprehensive, new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan.
This marks the conclusion of a careful policy review that I ordered as soon as I took office. My Administration has heard from our military commanders and diplomats. We have consulted with the Afghan and Pakistani governments; with our partners and NATO allies; and with other donors and international organizations. And we have also worked closely with members of Congress here at home. Now, I’d like to speak clearly and candidly to the American people.
This article on the NYT website just adds to the volumes of publicly available information about the ties between Islamic radicals in Afghanistan and Pakistan and the Pakistani military intelligence service, ISI.
It’s really quite incredible that President Barack Obama believes that the Taliban or any other tribal, fundamentalist Islamist can be negotiated with in good faith in this part of the world. These people have been playing one end against the other since the 1980s. The United States is going to be punkd if we do anything other than meet barbarism with force in this region.