Archive for the ‘extremists’ Category

The Investigation: India’s nightmare: were the killers home-grown?

November 28, 2008

Two questions hang over the massacres, for which Indian security forces appear to have been completely unprepared: who did it, and why?

 

Security analysts said yesterday that, while the involvement of al-Qa’ida could not be ruled out after foreigners were targeted for the first time in a major Indian attack, initial suspicions focus on home-grown Islamic militant groups which have become a major concern for authorities.

By Anne Penketh, Diplomatic Editor
The Independent (UK)

Although the Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, blamed “external linkages” and appeared to point the finger of blame at Pakistan, it was not clear last night whether he was repeating India’s familiar accusations against its neighbour in the wake of every major terror attack or if he had firm evidence following the arrest of nine suspects involved in the shootings.

The festering sore of Kashmir, over which Pakistan and India have fought two wars, is ever present. One of the militants holed up in the Jewish centre in Mumbai contacted Indian television to ask: “Are you aware how many people have been killed in Kashmir? Are you aware how your army has killed Muslims? Are you aware how many of them have been killed in Kashmir this week?” He was said to be speaking Urdu with a Kashmiri accent.

Proof of a Kashmiri connection is likely to lead to rising tension in the subcontinent as these groups not only have ties with groups such as al-Qa’ida but also the Pakistani intelligence service, ISI. “There are serious concerns in India about the support of the ISI for militant Islamic groups,” said a security analyst, Garry Hindle.

The Mumbai attacks were claimed by a previously unknown group, the Deccan Mujahedin, which is calling for the release of jailed Islamic militants. “At first glance, it looks like an offshoot of the Indian Mujahedin which itself arose out of the student Islamic movement,” said Nigel Inkster, a senior analyst with the International Institute for Strategic Studies who is a former assistant director of MI6.

“We’ve been worried about the indigenisation of Islamist extremism in India,” Mr Inkster added, referring to the new splinter groups springing up inside the country which are distinct from militant organisations imported from outside and accused of being sponsored by Pakistan.

Read the rest:
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/the-
investigation-indias-nightmare-were-the-killers-ho
megrown-1038846.html

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Bombay attacks: India points the finger at Pakistan

November 28, 2008

India pointed an accusing finger at Pakistan yesterday as commandos fought suspected Islamist terrorists through the corridors of two of Bombay’s top hotels. Dozens of foreigners were still being held hostage or trapped in the buildings.

At least 125 people were killed and 327 wounded in Wednesday’s attacks on some of the city’s most high-profile buildings. Local hospitals and police said that the toll would rise further.

Nine foreigners were among the dead, including one Briton, a Japanese businessman, an Australian, a German and an Italian. Andreas Liveras, a 73-year-old British shipping tycoon, was shot dead moments after telling reporters that he was hiding in the basement of the Taj Mahal Palace.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office would not say how many British citizens were injured, trapped or being held hostage at the Taj Mahal and Oberoi hotels. Between 15 and 20 French nationals were inside.

Seven people were rescued from a residential complex that houses a Jewish centre. The Israeli Embassy said that ten of its citizens were being held hostage. A militant inside called a television channel to offer talks with the Government. He complained about rights abuses in Kashmir, over which India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars since 1947.

Read the rest:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/
world/asia/article5248664.ece

Mumbai: Death Toll Expected to Rise as End of Siege Appears Near

November 27, 2008

The crisis in Mumbai appeared to ease early Friday as Indian commandos scoured through two charred luxury hotels, searching for survivors of the bands of gunmen who unleashed two days of chaos here. A third group of gunmen, the remnants of well-organized squads of attackers, apparently remained holed up in a Jewish community center.
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Amid early indications that the sieges were ending, fears were growing that the toll would rise past the 119 known dead. Late Thursday, smoke was still rising from one of the hotels and people who escaped reported stepping around bodies. Dozens of people, perhaps many more, remained trapped in the hotels, though it was uncertain if any were being held hostage by the heavily armed assailants. The wounded numbered some 300.

There remained much mystery around the group behind the attack, unusual in its scale, its almost theatrical boldness and its targeting of locales frequented by wealthy Indians and foreigners.

SOMINI SENGUPTA and KEITH BRADSHER
The New York Times

Two men who claimed to be among the gunmen called local television stations, demanding to speak with the government. They complained about the treatment of Muslims in India and about Kashmir, the disputed territory over which India and Pakistan have fought two wars.

“Are you aware how many people have been killed in Kashmir?” a caller who identified himself as Imran asked. “Are you aware how your army has killed Muslims?”

The men said they were Indian, but the attacks appeared to ratchet up tensions in an already volatile region: In a televised speech, India’s prime minister, Manmohan Singh, blamed forces “based outside this country” for the attacks in a thinly veiled accusation that Pakistan was involved.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/28/world
/asia/28mumbai.html?_r=1&hp

NATO confronting new threats

April 2, 2008
By WILLIAM J. KOLE, Associated Press Writer

BUCHAREST, Romania – NATO‘s latest security worries go far beyond Taliban fighters or al-Qaida extremists: They include computer hackers, threats to global energy supplies and climate change profiteers.
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World leaders gathered in Bucharest for this week’s NATO summit are debating what role the trans-Atlantic alliance can play in containing “cyberterrorists,” “hacktivists” and other emerging menaces that experts concede are untraditional, but still potentially lethal.

NATO needs to gear up for “iWar” — systematic attacks on the Web that could disrupt commerce worldwide by using crippling computer worms to shut down consumer online services such as Internet banking — warns Johnny Ryan, a researcher with the Institute of International and European Affairs.

“iWar will proliferate quickly and can be waged by anyone with an Internet connection,” Ryan cautioned in an analysis for NATO.

“In the short term, iWar poses a gathering threat to NATO members,” he said. “NATO must approach the problem as an immediate threat and strive to develop practical defensive cooperation.”

NATO member Estonia suffered a series of paralyzing and economically devastating cybercrime attacks last year that it blamed on Russia, which has denied involvement.

The attacks “raise questions about the alliance’s ability to protect its newest members,” said Stanley Kober, a research fellow at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank.

Securing vulnerable energy infrastructure may be an even more pressing concern, NATO officials said Wednesday as the summit got under way.

NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer has been pushing for a new “strategic concept” that would define the alliance’s role in dealing with the threat.

“Many of these challenges will not trigger a classical military response. But they will require allies to support each other — politically, economically, and perhaps also militarily,” de Hoop Scheffer told a security forum in Brussels, Belgium, last month.

His spokesman, James Appathurai, told reporters Wednesday that the 26 NATO allies hoped this week to lay the groundwork for a new blueprint on how to tackle evolving security challenges.

Energy has also become a worry for NATO as Russia tightens control of its most important natural gas fields. Gazprom, Russia’s state-controlled energy monopoly, controls key pipelines that supply gas to Western Europe.

The U.S. is prodding NATO to take a larger role in energy security — something Washington considers a major post-Cold War menace.

“I think there’s an increasing recognition in the United States that these are growing issues,” said Stephen Larrabee, a senior security analyst for the RAND Corp. think tank.

Climate change — already a major concern on a wide range of fronts — is starting to preoccupy NATO as well.

De Hoop Scheffer says the alliance may have to be ready to protect food and water supplies if global warming makes them scarce and tensions create enough economic or political instability to nudge nations to the brink of war.

EU foreign affairs chief Javier Solana gave a bleak assessment in a March 3 report warning that climate change threatens to undermine international security.

“It is important to recognize that the risks are not just of a humanitarian nature — they also include political and security risks that directly affect European interests,” the report says, warning: “Unmitigated climate change … will lead to unprecedented security scenarios.”

But any attempt to push the new threats to the forefront likely will run into resistance from allies pressing NATO to get back to basics, said Julianne Smith, Europe program director for the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“Many countries would like to see NATO return to its core mission,” she said. “I just find it hard to believe that NATO is going to be able to reach consensus on any of these issues.”

NATO’s core function is defined in its 1949 founding treaty, which states that all members will come to each others’ aid if any are attacked by an outside power.

McCain Major Foreign Policy Address

March 30, 2008

 March 27, 2008

Los Angeles (myfoxla.com)  —  The United States needs to work more closely with democratic nations and restore its image as a world power, Republican presidential candidate John McCain said today in downtown Los Angeles.
US. Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain is ... 
“We can’t build an enduring peace based on freedom by ourselves, and we do not want to,” McCain said during a breakfast meeting of the Los Angeles World Affairs Council at the Westin Bonaventure hotel.

“We have to strengthen our global alliances as the core of a new global compact — a league of Democracies — that can harness the vast influence of the more than 100 democratic nations around the world to advance our values and  defend our shared interests.”

In his speech — titled “U.S. Foreign Policy: Where We Go From Here” —  McCain also reiterated his stances that the United States cannot withdraw from Iraq, that torture of prisoners must stop and the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay must be closed.

“America must be a model citizen if we want others to look to us as a model,” McCain said. “How we behave at home affects how we are perceived abroad. … We can’t torture or treat inhumanely suspected terrorists we have captured.”

McCain, who recently toured the Middle East and Europe, said the United States must do more to collaborate with democratic nations.

“The United States cannot lead by virtue of its power alone,” the Arizona senator said.

“Our great power does not mean we can do whatever we want whenever we want, nor should we assume we have all the wisdom and knowledge necessary to succeed,” he said. “We need to listen to the views and respect the collective will of our democratic allies.

“… Leadership in today’s world means accepting and fulfilling our responsibilities as a great nation,” he said. “One of those responsibilities is to be a good and reliable ally to our fellow democracies.”

McCain’s comments were a departure of sorts from the Bush Administration, which has been criticized for employing a go-it-alone policy.

But McCain said again he would not advocate the withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

“We have incurred a moral responsibility in Iraq. It would be an unconscionable act of betrayal, a stain on our character as a great nation, if we were to walk away from the Iraqi people and consign them to the horrendous violence, ethnic cleansing and possibly genocide that would follow a reckless, irresponsible and premature withdrawal,” McCain said.

Democratic candidates Sens. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., have both pledged to gradually withdraw U.S. troops if elected.

Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, criticized McCain’s speech as “empty rhetoric” that does nothing to distance him from the policies of President Bush.

“His new appreciation for diplomacy has no credibility after he mimicked President Bush’s misleading case for a unilateral war of choice when it mattered most,” Dean said. “Why should the American people now trust John McCain to offer anything more than four more years of President Bush’s reckless  economic policies and failed foreign policy?”

Foreign policy is considered an area of strength for the 71-year-old McCain, but today’s speech comes eight days after he made a high-profile gaffe.

In a news conference in Amman, Jordan, during a congressional fact- finding trip, McCain told reporters he continues to be concerned about Iranian authorities  “taking al-Qaida into Iran, training them and sending them back.”

When asked about that statement, McCain said, “Well, it’s common knowledge and has been reported in the media that al-Qaida is gong back into Iran and receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran. That’s well known. And it’s unfortunate.”

Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., then whispered to McCain, who said, “I’m sorry. The Iranians are training extremists, not al-Qaida.”

Democrats pounced on McCain’s misstatement.

“Not only is McCain wrong on Iraq again, but the bigger problem is either that either he doesn’t understand the problems facing Iraq and basically  the whole Middle East or he’s willing to ignore the facts on the ground,” Luis Miranda, a deputy communications director with the Democratic National Committee, told City News Service.

“Whichever one of those two things it is, it’s just not worthy of inspiring trust.”
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McCain campaign spokesman Brian Rodgers told The New York Times last week that “John McCain misspoke and immediately corrected himself by stating that Iran is, in fact, supporting radical Islamic extremists in Iraq, not al- Qaida — as is reflected in the transcript.

“The reality is that the American people have deep concerns about the Democratic candidates’ judgment and readiness on matters of national security and that’s why the DNC launched their attack.”
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 Text of U.S. Senator John McCain’s remarks at the World Affairs Council in Los Angeles, California:


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When I was five years old, a car pulled up in front of our house in New London, Connecticut, and a Navy officer rolled down the window, and shouted at my father that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor.  My father immediately left for the submarine base where he was stationed.  I rarely saw him again for four years.  My grandfather, who commanded the fast carrier task force under Admiral Halsey, came home from the war exhausted from the burdens he had borne, and died the next day. 

In Vietnam, where I formed the closest friendships of my life, some of those friends never came home to the country they loved so well.  I detest war.  It might not be the worst thing to befall human beings, but it is wretched beyond all description.  When nations seek to resolve their differences by force of arms, a million tragedies ensue.  The lives of a nation’s finest patriots are sacrificed.

Innocent people suffer and die. Commerce is disrupted; econom ies are damaged; strategic interests shielded by years of patient statecraft are endangered as the exigencies of war and diplomacy conflict. Not the valor with which it is fought nor the nobility of the cause it serves, can glorify war.  

Whatever gains are secured, it is loss the veteran remembers most keenly.  Only a fool or a fraud sentimentalizes the merciless reality of war.  However heady the appeal of a call to arms, however just the cause, we should still shed a tear for all that is lost when war claims its wages from us. I am an idealist, and I believe it is possible in our time to make the world we live in another, better, more peaceful place, where our interests and those of our allies are more secure, and American ideals that are transforming the world, the principles of free people and free markets, advance even farther than they have.  But I am, from hard experience and the judgment it informs, a realistic idealist. I know we must work very hard and very creatively to build new foundations for a stable and enduring peace. 

We cannot wish the world to be a better place than it is.  We have enemies for whom no attack is too cruel, and no innocent life safe, and who would, if they could, strike us with the world’s most terrible weapons.  There are states that support them, and which might help them acquire those weapons because they share with terrorists the same animating hatred for the West, and will not be placated by fresh appeals to the better angels of their nat ure.  This is the central threat of our time, and we must understand the implications of our decisions on all manner of regional and global challenges could have for our success in defeating it.

President Harry Truman once said of America, “God has created us and brought us to our present position of power and strength for some great purpose.”  In his time, that purpose was to contain Communism and build the structures of peace and prosperity that could provide safe passage through the Cold War.  Now it is our turn. 

We face a new set of opportunities, and also new dangers.  The developments of science and technology have brought us untold prosperity, eradicated disease, and reduced the suffering of millions.  We have a chance in our lifetime to raise the world to a new standard of human existence.  Yet these same technologies have produced grave new risks, arming a few zealots with the ability to murder millions of innocents, and producing a global industrialization that can in time threaten our planet.

To meet this challenge requires understanding the world we live in, and the central role the United States must play in shaping it for the future.  The United States must lead in the 21st century, just as in Truman’s day.  But leadership today means something different than it did in the years after World War II, when Europe and the other democracies were still recovering from the devastation of war and the United States was the only democratic superpower.  Today we are not alone.  There is the powerful collective voice of the European Union, and there are the great nations of India and Japan, Australia and Brazil, South Korea and South Africa, Turkey and Israel, to name just a few of the leading democracies.  There are also the increasingly powerful nations of China and Russia that wield great influence in the international system.

In such a world, where power of all kinds is more widely and evenly distributed, the United States cannot lead by virtue of its power alone.  We must be strong politically, economically, and militarily.  But we must also lead by attracting others to our cause, by demonstrating once again the virtues of freedom and democracy, by defending the rules of international civilized society and by creating the new international institutions necessary to advance the peace and freedoms we cherish.  Perhaps above all, leadership in today’s world means accepting and fulfilling our responsibilities as a great nation.

One of those responsibilities is to be a good and reliable ally to our fellow democracies.  We cannot build an enduring peace based on freedom by ourselves, and we do not want to.  We have to strengthen our global alliances as the core of a new global compact — a League of Democracies — that can harness the vast influence of the more than one hundred democratic nations around the world to advance our values and defend our shared interests. 

At the heart of this new compact must be mutual respect and trust.  Recall the words of our founders in the Declaration of Independence, that we pay “decent respect to the opinions of mankind.”  Our great power does not mean we can do whatever we want whenever we want, nor should we assume we have all the wisdom and knowledge necessary to succeed.  We need to listen to the views and respect the collective will of our democratic allies.  When we believe international action is necessary, whether military, economic, or diplomatic, we will try to persuade our friends that we are right.  But we, in return, must be willing to be persuaded by them. 

America must be a model citizen if we want others to look to us as a model.  How we behave at home affects how we are perceived abroad.  We must fight the terrorists and at the same time defend the rights that are the foundation of our society.  We can’t torture or treat inhumanely suspected terrorists we have captured.  I believe we should close Guantanamo and work with our allies to forge a new international understanding on the disposition of dangerous detainees under our control.

There is such a thing as international good citizenship.  We need to be good stewards of our planet and join with other nations to help preserve our common home.  The risks of global warming have no borders.  We and the other nations of the world must get serious about substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the coming years or we will hand off a much-diminished world to our grandchildren.  We need a successor to the Kyoto Treaty, a cap-and-trade system that delivers the necessary environmental impact in an economically responsible manner.  We Americans must lead by example and encourage the participation of the rest of the world, including most importantly, the developing economic powerhouses of China and India. 

Four and a half decades ago, John Kennedy described the people of Latin America as our “firm and ancient friends, united by history and experience and by our determination to advance the values of American civilization.”  With globalization, our hemisphere has grown closer, more integrated, and more interdependent.  Latin America today is increasingly vital to the fortunes of the United States. Americans north and south share a common geography and a common destiny.  The countries of Latin America are the natural partners of the United States, and our northern neighbor Canada.

Relations with our southern neighbors must be governed by mutual respect, not by an imperial impulse or by anti-American demagoguery.  The promise of North, Central, and South American life is too great for that.  I believe the Americas can and must be the model for a new 21st century relationship between North and South.  Ours can be the first completely democratic hemisphere, where trade is free across all borders, where the rule of law and the power of free markets advance the security and prosperity of all.

Power in the world today is moving east; the Asia-Pacific region is on the rise.  Together with our democratic partner of many decades, Japan, we can grasp the opportunities present in the unfolding world and this century can become safe — both American and Asian, both prosperous and free.  Asia has made enormous strides in recent decades. Its economic achievements are well known; less known is that more people live under democratic rule in Asia than in any other region of the world.

Dealing with a rising China will be a central challenge for the next American president.  Recent prosperity in China has brought more people out of poverty faster than during any other time in human history.  China’s newfound power implies responsibilities.  China could bolster its claim that it is “peacefully rising” by being more transparent about its significant military buildup, by working with the world to isolate pariah states such as Burma, Sudan and Zimbabwe, and by ceasing its efforts to establish regional forums and economic arrangements designed to exclude America from Asia. 

China and the United States are not destined to be adversaries.  We have numerous overlapping interests and hope to see our relationship evolve in a manner that benefits both countries and, in turn, the Asia-Pacific region and the world.  But until China moves toward political liberalization, our relationship will be based on periodically shared interests rather than the bedrock of shared values. 

The United States did not single-handedly win the Cold War; the transatlantic alliance did, in concert with partners around the world.  The bonds we share with Europe in terms of history, values, and interests are unique.  Americans should welcome the rise of a strong, confident European Union as we continue to support a strong NATO.  The future of the transatlantic relationship lies in confronting the challenges of the twenty-first century worldwide: developing a common energy policy, creating a transatlantic common market tying our economies more closely together, addressing the dangers posed by a revanchist Russia, and institutionalizing our cooperation on issues such as climate change, foreign assistance, and democracy promotion.

We should start by ensuring that the G-8, the group of eight highly industrialized states, becomes again a club of leading market democracies: it should include Brazil and India but exclude Russia.  Rather than tolerate Russia’s nuclear blackmail or cyber attacks, Western nations should make clear that the solidarity of NATO, from the Baltic to the Black Sea, is indivisible and that the organization’s doors remain open to all democracies committed to the defense of freedom.

While Africa’s problems — poverty, corruption, disease, and instability — are well known, we must refocus on the bright promise offered by many countries on that continent.  We must strongly engage on a political, economic, and security level with friendly governments across Africa, but insist on improvements in transparency and the rule of law.  Many African nations will not reach their true potential without external assistance to combat entrenched problems, such as HIV/AIDS, that afflict Africans disproportionately.  I will establish the goal of eradicating malaria on the continent — the number one killer of African children under the age of five.  In addition to saving millions of lives in the world’s poorest regions, such a campaign would do much to add luster to America’s image in the world.

We also share an obligation with the world’s other great powers to halt and reverse the proliferation of nuclear weapons.  The United States and the international community must work together and do all in our power to contain and reverse North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and to prevent Iran — a nation whose President has repeatedly expressed a desire to wipe Israel from the face of the earth — from obtaining a nuclear weapon.  We should work to reduce nuclear arsenals all around the world, starting with our own.  Forty years ago, the five declared nuclear powers came together in support of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and pledged to end the arms race and move toward nuclear disarmament.  The time has come to renew that commitment.  We do not need all the weapons currently in our arsenal.  The United States should lead a global effort at nuclear disarmament consistent with our vital interests and the cause of peace.

If we are successful in pulling together a global coalition for peace and freedom — if we lead by shouldering our international responsibilities and pointing the way to a better and safer future for humanity, I believe we will gain tangible benefits as a nation. 

It will strengthen us to confront the transcendent challenge of our time: the threat of radical Islamic terrorism.  This challenge is transcendent not because it is the only one we face.  There are many dangers in today’s world, and our foreign policy must be agile and effective at dealing with all of them.  But the threat posed by the terrorists is unique.  They alone devote all their energies and indeed their very lives to murdering innocent men, women, and children.  They alone seek nuclear weapons and other tools of mass destruction not to defend themselves or to enhance their prestige or to give them a stronger hand in world affairs but to use against us wherever and whenever they can.  Any president who does not regard this threat as transcending all others does not deserve to sit in the White House, for he or she does not take seriously enough the first and most basic duty a president has — to protect the lives of the American people.< /P>

We learned through the tragic experience of September 11 that passive defense alone cannot protect us.  We must protect our borders.  But we must also have an aggressive strategy of confronting and rooting out the terrorists wherever they seek to operate, and deny them bases in failed or failing states.  Today al Qaeda and other terrorist networks operate across the globe, seeking out opportunities in Southeast Asia, Central Asia, Africa, and in the Middle East.

Prevailing in this struggle will require far more than military force.  It will require the use of all elements of our national power: public diplomacy; development assistance; law enforcement training; expansion of economic opportunity; and robust intelligence capabilities.  I have called for major changes in how our government faces the challenge of radical Islamic extremism by much greater resources for and integration of civilian efforts to prevent conflict and to address post-conflict challenges.  Our goal must be to win the “hearts and minds” of the vast majority of moderate Muslims who do not want their future controlled by a minority of violent extremists.  In this struggle, scholarships will be far more important than smart bombs.

We also need to build the international structures for a durable peace in which the radical extremists are gradually eclipsed by the more powerful forces of freedom and tolerance.  Our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan are critical in this respect and cannot be viewed in isolation from our broader strategy.  In the troubled and often dangerous region they occupy, these two nations can either be sources of extremism and instability or they can in time become pillars of stability, tolerance, and democracy.  

For decades in the greater Middle East, we had a strategy of relying on autocrats to provide order and stability.  We relied on the Shah of Iran, the autocratic rulers of Egypt, the generals of Pakistan, the Saudi royal family, and even, for a time, on Saddam Hussein.  In the late 1970s that strategy began to unravel.  The Shah was overthrown by the radical Islamic revolution that now rules in Tehran.  The ensuing ferment in the Muslim world produced increasing instability.  The autocrats clamped down with ever greater repression, while also surreptitiously aiding Islamic radicalism abroad in the hopes that they would not become its victims.  It was a toxic and explosive mixture.  The oppression of the autocrats blended with the radical Islamists’ dogmatic theology to produce a perfect storm of intolerance and hatred. 

We can no longer delude ourselves that relying on these out-dated autocracies is the safest bet.  They no longer provide lasting stability, only the illusion of it.  We must not act rashly or demand change overnight.  But neither can we pretend the status quo is sustainable, stable, or in our interests.  Change is occurring whether we want it or not.  The only question for us is whether we shape this change in ways that benefit humanity or let our enemies seize it for their hateful purposes.  We must help expand the power and reach of freedom, using all our many strengths as a free people.  This is not just idealism.  It is the truest kind of realism.  It is the democracies of the world that will provide the pillars upon which we can and must build an enduring peace.

If you look at the great arc that extends from the Middle East through Central Asia and the Asian subcontinent all the way to Southeast Asia, you can see those pillars of democracy stretching across the entire expanse, from Turkey and Israel to India and Indonesia.  Iraq and Afghanistan lie at the heart of that region.  And whether they eventually become stable democracies themselves, or are allowed to sink back into chaos and extremism, will determine not only the fate of that critical part of the world, but our fate, as well.  

That is the broad strategic perspective through which to view our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Many people ask, how should we define success?  Success in Iraq and Afghanistan is the establishment of peaceful, stable, prosperous, democratic states that pose no threat to neighbors and contribute to the defeat of terrorists.  It is the triumph of religious tolerance over violent radicalism. 

Those who argue that our goals in Iraq are unachievable are wrong, just as they were wrong a year ago when they declared the war in Iraq already lost.  Since June 2007 sectarian and ethnic violence in Iraq has been reduced by 90 percent.  Overall civilian deaths have been reduced by more than 70 percent.  Deaths of coalition forces have fallen by 70 percent.  The dramatic reduction in violence has opened the way for a return to something approaching normal political and economic life for the average Iraqi.  People are going back to work.  Markets are open.  Oil revenues are climbing.  Inflation is down.  Iraq’s economy is expected to grown by roughly 7 percent in 2008.  Political reconciliation is occurring across Iraq at the local and provincial grassroots level.  Sunni and Shi’a chased from their homes by terrorist and sectarian violence are returning.  Political progress at the national level has been far too s low, but there is progress. 

Critics say that the “surge” of troops isn’t a solution in itself, that we must make progress toward Iraqi self-sufficiency.  I agree.  Iraqis themselves must increasingly take responsibility for their own security, and they must become responsible political actors.  It does not follow from this, however, that we should now recklessly retreat from Iraq regardless of the consequences.  We must take the course of prudence and responsibility, and help Iraqis move closer to the day when they no longer need our help.

That is the route of responsible statesmanship.  We have incurred a moral responsibility in Iraq.  It would be an unconscionable act of betrayal, a stain on our character as a great nation, if we were to walk away from the Iraqi people and consign them to the horrendous violence, ethnic cleansing, and possibly genocide that would follow a reckless, irresponsible, and premature withdrawal.  Our critics say America needs to repair its image in the world.  How can they argue at the same time for the morally reprehensible abandonment of our responsibilities in Iraq?

Those who claim we should withdraw from Iraq in order to fight Al Qaeda more effectively elsewhere are making a dangerous mistake.  Whether they were there before is immaterial, al Qaeda is in Iraq now, as it is in the borderlands between Pakistan and Afghanistan, in Somalia, and in Indonesia.  If we withdraw prematurely from Iraq, al Qaeda in Iraq will survive, proclaim victory and continue to provoke sectarian tensions that, while they have been subdued by the success of the surge, still exist, as various factions of Sunni and Shi’a have yet to move beyond their ancient hatreds, and are ripe for provocation by al Qaeda.  Civil war in Iraq could easily descend into genocide, and destabilize the entire region as neighboring powers come to the aid of their favored factions.  I believe a reckless and premature withdrawal would be a terrible defeat for our security interests and our values.  Iran will also view our premature withdrawal as a victory, a nd the biggest state supporter of terrorists, a country with nuclear ambitions and a stated desire to destroy the State of Israel, will see its influence in the Middle East grow significantly.  These consequences of our defeat would threaten us for years, and those who argue for it, as both Democratic candidates do, are arguing for a course that would eventually draw us into a wider and more difficult war that would entail far greater dangers and sacrifices than we have suffered to date. I do not argue against withdrawal, any more than I argued several years ago for the change in tactics and additional forces that are now succeeding in Iraq, because I am somehow indifferent to war and the suffering it inflicts on too many American families.  I hold my position because I hate war, and I know very well and very personally how grievous its wages are.  But I know, too, that we must sometimes pay those wages to avoid paying even higher ones later.

I run for President because I want to keep the country I love and have served all my life safe, and to rise to the challenges of our times, as generations before us rose to theirs.  I run for President because I know it is incumbent on America, more than any other nation on earth, to lead in building the foundations for a stable and enduring peace, a peace built on the strength of our commitment to it, on the transformative ideals on which we were founded, on our ability to see around the corner of history, and on our courage and wisdom to make hard choices.  I run because I believe, as strongly as I ever have, that it is within our power to make in our time another, better world than we inherited.

Thank you.

U.S. foes target Latin America

February 8, 2008

By Sara A. Carter
The Washington Times
February 8, 2008

Iran, Cuba and Venezuela are working together against the U.S. by undermining democracy in Latin America, allowing trafficking of illegal drugs and creating safe havens for extremist groups, intelligence officials said.
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Testifying before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Tuesday, National Intelligence Director Michael McConnell said that influence from the three countries — led respectively by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez — has spilled into Bolivia, Nicaragua and Ecuador, which “are pursuing agendas that undercut checks and balances” of democratic governments.

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez salutes during a military ...
 Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez salutes during a military parade to celebrate the 16th anniversary of a failed coup d’etat led by him in 1992, in Valencia, 160 km (99 miles) from Caracas, February 4, 2008.(Ho-Miraflores Palace/Reuters)


“Moreover, each of these governments, to varying degrees, has engaged in sharply anti-U.S. rhetoric, aligned with Venezuela and Cuba — and increasingly Iran — on international issues, and advocated measures that directly clash with U.S. initiatives,” said Mr. McConnell, whose department oversees all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies.

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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, center, surrounded by ... 
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, center, surrounded by officials, stands under a research rocket, in Tehran, Iran, Monday, Feb. 4, 2008. Iran launched a research rocket Monday and unveiled its first major space center that will be used to launch research satellites, state-run television reported.(AP Photo/ISNA, Mehdi Ghasemi)

Al-Qaida uses women as suicide attackers

January 5, 2008
By DIAA HADID, Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD – It goes against religious taboos in Iraq to involve women in fighting, but three recent suicide bombings carried out by women could indicate insurgents are growing increasingly desperate.

The female suicide attacks come as U.S.-led coalition forces are increasingly catching militants suspected of training women to become human bombs or finding evidence of efforts by al-Qaida in Iraq to recruit women, according to military records.

With coalition forces pushing extremists out of former strongholds and shrinking their pool of potential recruits, the militants are being forced to come up with other methods to penetrate….

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Musharraf: Not Perfect But America’s Ally

December 28, 2007

By James Zumwalt
Human Events Online
December 28, 2007

As the lighthouse of freedom throughout the world, America has sometimes had to make tough decisions where to shine her beacon of light and where not—a decision influenced by national interests.

During the Cold War, faced with containing communism in Asia, the US supported Philippine strongman Ferdinand Marcos who, although an impeder of human rights within his country, was a provider of muchneeded military bases in the region. It was simply a matter of accepting a least-worst situation where a less-than-democratic
government’s policies helped contain a much more serious threat elsewhere.

We face a similar situation in Pakistan today—but with extremely devastating consequences if we fail to adequately balance conflicting interests.

In an ideal world, the US should pressure Pakistan’sPresident Pervez Musharraf to democratize his country. Having stolen power from a democratically elected government and combined control of civilian and military institutions to maximize it, Musharraf is no poster child for democracy. But that must be weighed against this: we do not live in an
ideal world and, despite Musharraf’s contrariness to democratic principles, his country, with its nuclear arsenal, lies but a heart beat away from control by Islamic extremists.

Furthermore, unlike our Cold war enemy who feared in-kind nuclear retaliation if they used such weapons first, Islamic extremists welcome retaliation as a vehicle to
expedite their journey to the rewards of an after-life they outrageously glorify.

It is clear Musharraf walks a tightrope in Pakistan, trying to contain Islamic extremism, which is most likely responsible for the recent assassination of Benazir Bhutto, while it eats away at his power base.

He must worry about internal Pakistani government agencies, such as his intelligence service, and tribal authorities, influenced by extremist mindsets and providing Osama bin Ladin with safe-haven. Should we press Musharraf to recognize the will of an increasingly volatile Pakistani population, we may well help pave the way for a far more dangerous
threat in Islamabad.

Twenty-eight years earlier, hoping for greater freedoms in Iran, we pressed the Shah to depart, enabling an Islamic extremist ideology to gain hold as a nation-state and become the greatest threat to world peace today.

Unbeknownst to many Americans, a circa 9/11 event, receiving little attention, reveals just how close we may have already come to suffering the wrath of Pakistan’s Islamic extremist mindset.

In 1987, Pakistani author Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood wrote the book “Doomsday and Life after Death—the Ultimate Fate of the Universe as Seen Through the Holy Koran.”

The title alone reflects a most disturbing perspective on life. The book ascribes to the extremist belief the 12th Imam will return to restore Islam’s greatness, but only
after an apocalyptic event the extremist can engineer. The author paints a very dismal picture of history concluding, fourteen years prior to 9/11, terrorism would play a major role in international affairs. He predicted, by 2002, a terrorist attack using a weapon of
mass destruction (WMD) would occur, claiming millions of lives.

What is frightening is this author is no Pakistani “Jules Verne,” simply airing
a very creative imagination. He is a nuclear scientist, later recognized as a key player in Pakistan’s weapons development program.

As such, he now believes, since these weapons exist, they belong to the entire Muslim world and not just Pakistan.

After 9/11, as US forces entered Afghanistan, Taliban leader MullahOmar declared no one  comprehended the devastation soon to incinerate the US. Was he alluding to a WMD attack? A post-9/11 investigation revealed significant links between al-Qaeda and Mahmood, an avid Taliban admirer. It discovered, a month prior to 9/11, Mahmood spent
three weeks in Kabul with Omar. A search of a Taliban safe-house found documents explaining how to make a radiological bomb. Later arrested and asked why he met Omar, Mahmood claimed they discussed “agricultural business.” But his failure to pass polygraph exams strongly suggested a more sinister motive—one perhaps in keeping with the timeframe of his 1987 book’s WMD prediction.

The evidence indicates Mahmood, and his al-Qaeda cohorts, were plotting a much more devastating attack than 9/11 on the US—one using a WMD. If so, the subsequent US invasion of Afghanistan—totally unexpected by al-Qaeda—may well have disrupted those plans. However, unleashing a WMD somewhere in the West clearly remains a top Islamic extremist priority.

Perhaps this is why Musharraf, dealing with civil unrest at home and wary of growing extremist support within his government, recently took control of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal himself—away from his prime minister—via a temporary law. Parliamentary approval is required within six months for the law to become permanent. If Pakistan’s parliament rejects it, the best interests of the West are served by Musharraf
retaining control of these weapons, disregarding his legislative body’s
mandate.

Unfortunately, in exceedingly dangerous times as these, we must be very mindful into which corners of the globe we shine freedom’s beacon of light. For our own security, we may wish to dim it to the darkness of some nation’s democratic shortcomings.

If we do not—instead trying to be all things to all people—we run the risk of losing freedom’s lighthouse to the more urgent threat posed by the pounding waves of
Islamic extremism. 

Pakistan Is Defeating Militants in Swat Valley, Musharraf Says

December 26, 2007

By Michael Heath
Bloomberg News

Dec. 26 (Bloomberg) — Pakistan’s army is defeating Islamic militants in Swat Valley near Afghanistan, President Pervez Musharraf said, three days after a suicide bomber killed nine people in an attack on a military convoy in the region.

The extremists’ effort to expand from the tribal regions “has been controlled,” Musharraf said in Karachi yesterday, according to the official Associated Press of Pakistan. “I want to pay tribute to the armed forces and people of Swat” for their work “in crushing the increasing terrorism in the area.”

The Dec. 23 suicide attack in Mingora, also in Swat Valley, killed four military personnel and five civilians, security agencies said. Twenty-three people were injured.

The army killed as many as 230 pro-Taliban militants in a two-week operation in Swat Valley that began at the end of November. It’s fighting militants loyal to Maulana Fazlullah, a cleric seeking to impose Islamic law in the once popular tourist destination about 250 kilometers (150 miles) from the capital, Islamabad.

Extremism and terrorism in Pakistan have “taken a new dimension and need to be controlled,” Musharraf said in a speech to mark the anniversary of the birth of Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Pakistan’s founder, according to APP. “We have faced problems in this process but we have also made headway.”

Musharraf’s support for the U.S.-led war on terrorism is unpopular with Islamist parties in Pakistan. He has survived at least four assassination attempts by extremists since 2001.

U.S. Intelligence

Al-Qaeda leaders have established a base in the tribal region of northwestern Pakistan, U.S. intelligence agencies said in a July report. Fighting between the army and militants in the region escalated after Musharraf ordered security forces to storm Islamabad’s Red Mosque in July, ending a challenge to the government by clerics seeking to impose Islamic law in the city.

Musharraf earlier this month denied there are people in the military who are sympathetic to the Taliban and al-Qaeda, saying the army has suffered 1,000 casualties since it began its anti- terrorist operations in the northwestern region in 2003.

Pakistan has about 80,000 soldiers in the tribal region and mans 1,000 military posts on the 2,430-kilometer frontier with Afghanistan.

Musharraf, 64, imposed a state of emergency in Pakistan on Nov. 3 and fired Supreme Court judges, accusing the judiciary of hampering the fight against terrorism.

The emergency decree was revoked on Dec. 15 before elections scheduled for Jan. 8.

US envoy: Pakistan must end emergency

November 18, 2007

By MATTHEW ROSENBERG, Associated Press Writer 
November 18, 2007
0900 GMT
 

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Washington’s No. 2 diplomat delivered a blunt message to Pakistan‘s military ruler, telling him Saturday that emergency rule must be lifted and his opponents freed ahead of elections.

 

But there was no immediate sign that President Gen. Pervez Musharraf would heed that advice, with a presidential aide saying the Pakistani leader insisted that emergency rule would only be lifted once security improves.

Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte’s visit was seen as a last best chance to ease the latest political turmoil in Pakistan.

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