Archive for the ‘surge’ Category

Asian markets surge on Wall Street rally

April 2, 2008
By THOMAS HOGUE, AP Business Writer 

BANGKOK, Thailand – Asian stocks surged Wednesday as investors took heart from an overnight rally on Wall Street amid a growing belief that the worst of the credit crisis is over.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange April ...
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange April 1, 2008. U.S. stocks extended gains on Tuesday, lifting the benchmark S and P 500 and the Nasdaq up more than 3 percent, as Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc’s move to bolster its balance sheet calmed worries about the financial sector’s stability.(Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

In Tokyo, the region’s biggest bourse, the Nikkei 225 index jumped 3.3 percent in morning trade to 13,077.5. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index soared as much as 4.6 percent to 24,195.3.

In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite Index rose more than 3 percent, and benchmark indices in Australia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan all gained more than 2 percent.

“Investors believe the credit crisis in the U.S. is over,” said Francis Lun, a general manager at Fulbright Securities in Hong Kong. “They think the worst has gone.”

Wall Street began the second quarter with a big rally Tuesday as investors rushed back into stocks amid easing worries about the credit crisis that has battered many major banks and optimism that the U.S. economy — a major export market for Asia — is faring better than expected.

Financial stocks were among the big winners in U.S. and Asian trading after Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and Switzerland‘s UBS AG issued new shares to help bolster their balance sheets. The news was viewed as upbeat and offset even an announcement that UBS will take a fresh $19 billion write-down due to additional declines in the value of its mortgage assets and other credit instruments.

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Cheney warns against large cuts in Iraq

March 18, 2008
By DEB RIECHMANN, Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD – Vice President Dick Cheney warned Monday against large U.S. troop cuts that could jeopardize recent security gains in Iraq, as he marked the fifth anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion with a two-day visit to the country.

Iraq's President Jalal Talabani (R) sits next to U.S. Vice President ...
Iraq’s President Jalal Talabani (R) sits next to U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney in his office in Baghdad March 17, 2008.
(Mohammed Jalil/Pool/Reuters) 

Cheney used words like “phenomenal” and “remarkable turnaround” to describe a drop in violence in Iraq, and he hailed recently passed legislation aimed at keeping Iraq on a democratic path.

“It would be a mistake now to be so eager to draw down the force that we risk putting the outcome in jeopardy, and I don’t think we’ll do that,” Cheney said after spending the day zigzagging through barricades and checkpoints to get to meetings in and out of the heavily guarded Green Zone. He spent the night at a U.S. military base, the second overnight stay in Iraq for the vice president — the highest-ranking official to do so. Reporters accompanying him were not allowed to disclose the location. Last May, Cheney stayed at Camp Speicher, a base near former leader Saddam Hussein‘s hometown and about 100 miles north of Baghdad.

“It is good to be back in Iraq,” Cheney, dressed in a suit and dark cowboy boots, said after his meeting with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. “It’s especially significant, I think, to be able to return this week as we mark the fifth anniversary of the beginning of the campaign that liberated the people of Iraq from Saddam Hussein’s tyranny, and launched them on the difficult but historic road to democracy.”

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McCain makes Baghdad stop; 8th Iraq trip

March 16, 2008
By BRADLEY BROOKS, Associated Press Writer 

BAGHDAD – Sen. John McCain, the likely Republican presidential nominee who has linked his political future to U.S. success in Iraq, was in Baghdad on Sunday for meetings with Iraqi and U.S. diplomatic and military officials, a U.S. government official said.

Republican presidential candidate, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., ...
Republican presidential candidate, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., talks to reporters after speaking at a town hall meeting in Springfield, Pa., Friday, March 14, 2008.
(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Details of McCain’s visit, which had been anticipated, were not being released for security reasons, the U.S. Embassy said. It was unclear who he met with; no media opportunities or news conferences were planned.

McCain, a strong supporter of the U.S. military mission in Iraq, is believed to be staying in the country for about 24 hours.

Senator McCain is in Iraq and will be meeting with Iraqi and U.S. officials,” said Mirembe Nantongo, spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

In this image released by the U.S. Air Force, Sen. John McCain ...
In this image released by the U.S. Air Force, Sen. John McCain is seen at Baghdad’s International Airport to visit the top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, March 16, 2008. McCain, the likely Republican presidential nominee who has linked his political future to U.S. success in Iraq, was in Baghdad on Sunday for meetings with Iraqi and U.S. diplomatic and military officials, a U.S. government official said.
(AP Photo/U.S. Air Force, Master Sgt. Andy Dunaway, HO)

This is the senator’s eighth visit to Iraq. He’s accompanied by Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, an independent, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. Before leaving, McCain said the trip to the Middle East and Europe was a fact-finding venture, not a campaign photo opportunity.

The senator last met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki during the Thanksgiving holiday.

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McCain to Iraq, Europe, Middle East; Democrats Squabble

March 15, 2008

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US Republican presidential candidate John McCain travels to Europe and the Middle East in the week ahead — including a reported stop this weekend in Iraq — to burnish his senior statesman credentials while Democratic rivals brawl back home.
Republican Presidential canidate US Seantor John McCain speaks ... 
Republican Presidential canidate US Seantor John McCain speaks to an audience during a town hall meeting March 14, 2008 at Springfield Country Club in Springfield, Pennsylvania. McCain travels to Europe and the Middle East in the week ahead — including a reported stop this weekend in Iraq — to burnish his senior statesman credentials while Democratic rivals brawl back home.
(AFP/GETTY IMAGES/File/William Thomas Cain)

The Arizona senator, who touts his foreign affairs experience over Democratic candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, leads a congressional delegation beginning Tuesday to meet the leaders of Jordan, Israel, Britain and France, according to his campaign office.

But off the official schedule is a weekend trip to Iraq, according to Saturday’s Washington Post, where he will see firsthand the effects of the troop “surge” for which he has been such a fervent advocate even as US public support for the war in Iraq slumped.

The delegation was to meet with US military officials and Iraq’s leaders to assess the success of the surge strategy that deployed more soldiers to Iraq, the Post reported.

When contacted by AFP, McCain campaign aides were not able to confirm the Iraq leg of the trip.

The trip abroad will give several heads of state a closer look at one of the three candidates battling for the White House.

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Petraeus: Iraqi Leaders Not Making ‘Sufficient Progress’

March 14, 2008

By Cameron W. Barr 
Washington Post Foreign Service
Friday, March 14, 2008; Page A10

BAGHDAD, March 13 — Iraqi leaders have failed to take advantage of a reduction in violence to make adequate progress toward resolving their political differences, Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, said Thursday.

U.S. Commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, speaks at the Pentagon ...
U. S. Commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus.
(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

Petraeus, who is preparing to testify to Congress next month on the Iraq war, said in an interview that “no one” in the U.S. and Iraqi governments “feels that there has been sufficient progress by any means in the area of national reconciliation,” or in the provision of basic public services.

The general’s comments appeared to be his sternest to date on Iraqis’ failure to achieve political reconciliation. In February, following the passage of laws on the budget, provincial elections and an amnesty for certain detainees, Petraeus was more encouraging. “The passage of the three laws today showed that the Iraqi leaders are now taking advantage of the opportunity that coalition and Iraqi troopers fought so hard to provide,” he said at the time.

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Top U.S. Officer in Mideast Resigns

March 12, 2008

By Thomas E. Ricks 
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 12, 2008; Page A01

The top U.S. commander in the Middle East, whose views on strategy in the region have put him at odds with the Bush administration, abruptly announced his resignation yesterday, calling reports of such disagreements an untenable “distraction.”

Adm. William J. “Fox” Fallon became head of U.S. Central Command last March, putting him ostensibly in charge of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But he clashed frequently with Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, over strategy and troop levels, Pentagon officials said. Though technically Fallon’s subordinate, Petraeus has more experience in Iraq and has forged a strong connection with President Bush.
Adm. William Fallon, commander of the U. S. Central Command, ...
Adm. William Fallon, commander of the U. S. Central Command, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington in this May 3, 2007 file photo. Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced Tuesday, March 11, 2008, that Fallon is resigning.
(AP Photo/Dennis Cook)  

Fallon, 63, had made several comments reflecting disagreement with the administration’s stance on Iran, most recently in an Esquire magazine article last week that portrayed him as the only person who might stop Bush from going to war with the Islamic republic.

“Recent press reports suggesting a disconnect between my views and the president’s policy objectives have become a distraction at a critical time,” Fallon said in a statement. Though he denied that any discrepancies exist, he said “it would be best to step aside and allow” Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates “and our military leaders to move beyond this distraction.”

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, seen here in February 2008, ...
US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, seen here in February 2008, chose not to comment Monday on a magazine article that says the commander of US forces in the Middle East may soon be replaced because of his opposition to war with
Iran.  Gates suffered a shoulder injury this winter when he slipped on ice ourside his Washington DC home.
(AFP/File/Raveendran)


Fallon is expected to step down at the end of the month, after barely a year in his position, and just eight days before Petraeus is scheduled to testify before Congress about conditions in Iraq. Military officers said it appeared that it was made clear to Fallon that nobody would object if he stepped down.

Admiral Fallon reached this difficult decision entirely on his own,” Gates said yesterday in an unscheduled news conference. He added: “I believe it was the right thing to do, even though I do not believe there are, in fact, significant differences between his views and administration policy.”

The defense secretary also praised Fallon’s abilities as a strategist, even though it was the admiral’s strategic views that seemed to trouble the administration. “He is enormously talented and very experienced, and he does have a strategic vision that is rare,” Gates said.

The Esquire article, written by Thomas P.M. Barnett, a former Naval War College professor, asserted that if Fallon left his job anytime soon, it could signal that Bush intends to go to war with Iran. Asked about that yesterday, Gates called it “just ridiculous.”

Several Democrats were quick to accuse the administration of not tolerating dissent. “It’s distressing that Admiral Fallon feels he had to step down,” said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (Mass.). “President Bush’s oft-repeated claim that he follows the advice of his commanders on the ground rings hollow if our commanders don’t feel free to disagree with the president.” Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) asked whether Fallon’s resignation is a reflection that the administration is hostile to “the frank, open airing of experts’ views.”

A likely successor to Fallon is Petraeus, some defense experts said. The general could be promoted to the Centcom post and replaced in Baghdad by Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, who until last month was Petraeus’s deputy in Iraq. Odierno, who has been nominated to become Army vice chief of staff, developed a strong working relationship with Petraeus.

The top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, center, ...
The top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, center, arrives for a youth soccer tournament in central Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, March 1, 2008. Gen. Petraeus will ask President Bush to wait until as late as September to decide when to bring home more troops than already scheduled, a senior administration official said Friday.
(AP photo/Dusan Vranic)
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Another possible successor mentioned yesterday is Lt. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the head of Special Operations in Iraq. McChrystal recently was nominated to be director of the staff of the Joint Chiefs, a key Pentagon position.On Iraq, Fallon butted heads with Petraeus over the past year, arguing for a more rapid drawdown of U.S. troops and a swifter transition to Iraqi security forces. Fallon even carried out his own review of the conduct of the war — a move that surprised many Pentagon officials, in part because Odierno and Petraeus had already revamped U.S. strategy in Iraq and, with Bush’s approval, had implemented a buildup of about 30,000 additional troops, moving them off big bases and deploying them among the Iraqi population.

In the Esquire article, Fallon contends that Iraq was consuming excessive U.S. attention. In a part of the world with “five or six pots boiling over,” he is quoted as saying, “our nation can’t afford to be mesmerized by one problem.”

The article was “definitely the straw that broke the camel’s back,” a retired general said, especially because of its “extraordinarily flip, damning and insulting” tone. He noted that since it appeared last week, it has been the talk of military circles, where it was expected that Fallon would be disciplined.
 
Shah Marai/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images.
Adm. William J. Fallon, left, in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2007.

Fallon, one of the last Vietnam veterans in the U.S. military, was the first Navy officer selected to lead Centcom, a role traditionally granted to Army and Marine generals such as H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Tommy R. Franks and Anthony C. Zinni. One reason he was chosen to replace Army Gen. John P. Abizaid was because the administration — dealing with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as a diplomatic crisis over Iran’s nuclear program — wanted a seasoned officer who could step into the job quickly, without having to learn the ropes of top command, according to a person involved in his selection.

As a veteran of Pacific Command, where he focused on dealing with the rise of China, Fallon was seen as someone who would be comfortable operating at the highest levels of diplomacy and politics. He had told colleagues that he viewed Iran as a problem similar to China — one that mainly required steady engagement rather than aggressive confrontation. That stance put him at odds with Iran hawks both inside and outside the administration.

Peter D. Feaver, a former staff member of Bush’s National Security Council, said that the public nature of Fallon’s remarks made it necessary for the admiral to step down. “There is ample room for military leaders to debate administration policy behind closed doors,” said Feaver, a political scientist at Duke University. “However, taking such arguments into the media would violate basic democratic norms of civil-military relations.”

But Richard Danzig, who served as Navy secretary from 1998 to 2001 and has known Fallon for 15 years, said Fallon’s departure will leave a significant hole in a critical region. “Any turnover in Centcom has real costs, because this is an arena in the world, more than others, that depends a lot on relationships and extensive periods of conversation and mutual understanding,” he said.

That might prove especially true in Pakistan. Fallon had become a point man for crucial military relations there as the Pentagon implements a stepped-up program to help Pakistani forces deal with Islamic extremism along the border with Afghanistan. In visits to Islamabad in November and January, he cemented ties with Gen. Ashfaq Kiyani, the new armed forces chief of staff. The administration hopes that Kiyani will keep the military out of Pakistani politics while showing new aggression toward al-Qaeda and Taliban forces along the Afghan border.

Fallon’s departure also reflects Gates’s management style. During his 15 months at the Pentagon, the defense secretary has shown a willingness to move decisively in cases of internal conflict. A career intelligence officer, he demanded the resignation of Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey last year because of the way he handled the fallout from reports about substandard care at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Gates also declined to nominate Gen. Peter Pace, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for a second two-year term, amid concerns that a Democratic-controlled Congress would grill Pace on Iraq.

Yesterday, Gates said the perception that Fallon disagreed with the administration’s policies was enough to concern Fallon that he may no longer be effective in the region. Gates quoted Fallon as saying that the situation was “embarrassing.”

Staff writers Josh White, Karen DeYoung and Peter Baker contributed to this report.

Related:
Admiral William Fallon Resigns as U.S. Mideast Military Chief

Esquire Magazine on Admiral William “Fox” Fallon

Democrats: Iraqi troop buildup a failure

January 10, 2008
By ANNE FLAHERTY, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON – One year after President Bush announced his politically unpopular plan to send thousands more troops to Iraq, Democrats are struggling to counter the administration’s argument that the buildup succeeded.

The influx of some 30,000 additional soldiers and Marines helped to secure the troubled Baghdad capital and western Anbar province. While more U.S. troops died in 2007 than in any other year since the war began, the death count declined substantially in the final months as operations were in full swing. And in Anbar in particular, local leaders turned against al-Qaida operatives and began cooperating with coalition forces, spurring optimism among U.S. officials that Iraq was reaching a turning point.

The upswing prompted Bush to declare this week that 2007, in the end, “had become incredibly successful, beyond anybody’s expectations.”

Still, the Iraqi government has made almost none of the political progress….

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Pelosi: Denial on Iraq

November 23, 2007

By Charles Krauthammer
The Washington Post
November 23, 2007

It does not have the drama of the Inchon landing or the sweep of the Union comeback in the summer of 1864. But the turnabout of American fortunes in Iraq over the past several months is of equal moment — a war seemingly lost, now winnable. The violence in Iraq has been dramatically reduced. Political allegiances have been radically reversed. The revival of ordinary life in many cities is palpable. Something important is happening.

And what is the reaction of the war critics? Nancy Pelosi stoutly maintains her state of denial, saying this about the war just two weeks ago: “This is not working. . . . We must reverse it.” A euphemism for “abandon the field,” which is what every Democratic presidential candidate is promising, with variations only in how precipitous to make the retreat.

Nancy Pelosi
Nancy Pelosi

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Wary troops say surge works, barely

September 10, 2007

By Sharon Behn
The Washington Times
September 10, 2007

BAGHDAD — Many U.S. soldiers on the ground in Baghdad caution that improved security in the capital city will last only as long as the surge. If American troops were to leave, they say, the insurgents could be back within hours.

U.S. forces broke up insurgent networks and curtailed the ability of terrorists to strike, said Sgt. Gregory Rayho, 30, of the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, Stryker Brigade Combat Team, the recipient of three Purple Hearts during his time in Iraq.

His overall assessment is upbeat: “It is my opinion that the surge is working.”

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Iraqis urged to take up arms for defense

July 9, 2007

By Robert H. Reid, Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD – Prominent Shiite and Sunni politicians called on Iraqi civilians to take up arms to defend themselves after a weekend of violence that claimed more than 220 lives, including 60 who died Sunday in a surge of bombings and shootings around Baghdad.

The calls reflect growing frustration with the inability of Iraqi security forces to prevent extremist attacks.

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