Archive for the ‘Afghanistan’ Category

Obama Turns to Bill Clinton for Foreign Policy Cred

In Afghanistan, al Qaeda, Barack Obama, Bin Laden, foreign policy, Hezbollah, Muslim Brotherhood, Romney on May 2, 2012 at 7:08 am

President Obama’s foreign policy is in complete disarray.  He has misunderstood and underestimated the need for the War on Terror from the word “go,” and as a result, his administration has now simply decided the war is over–as if they honestly believe that telling our enemies we’re packing up and going home will settle everything.

Yet Obama needs a nail on which to hang his hat, so he’s out on the campaign trail summing up his foreign policy thus—Osama bin Laden is dead. But this approach has hit with such a thud that Obama has been forced to jet around the world for fancy photo ops and parade around Bill Clinton to convince the Democrat base that the current Commander-in-Chief is actually up to the task. Clinton is a strange choice, however, *since he is best remembered as the president who refused to kill bin Laden.* ( *pre 9/11 )

So now we have Obama  trying to represent himself as a foreign policy success story, while actually fleeing from records of weakness and appeasement. (especially with Iran and Pakistan)

And from his not-so-lofty perch, he is working to distract the public from Obama’s utter failure by asserting that Republican candidate Mitt Romney would never have okayed the bin Laden kill. Their basis for this assertion is a statement Romney made on the campaign trail in 2007. And it’s important to note it’s a statement they’re taking out of context in order to suit their intentions:

“I wouldn’t want to over concentrate on bin Laden. He’s one of many, many people who are involved in this global jihadist effort. He’s by no means the only leader. It’s a very diverse group – Hamas, Hezbollah, al Qaeda, Muslim Brotherhood and, of course, different names throughout the world. It’s not worth moving heaven and earth and spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person. It is worth fashioning and executing an effective strategy to defeat global, violent jihad, and I have a plan for doing that.”

To be honest, the fact that Obama would seize upon this quote is as embarrassing as it is telling.  Obama does not understand the immensity of the War on Terror or the commitment necessary to see such a war through. Thus, when Romney says, in effect, the war is bigger than one man—Osama bin Laden—he’s not saying “I would not okay a kill on bin Laden.” Rather, he’s saying, the war is too big to be orchestrated solely for the apprehension or death of one man. Moreover, Romney understands the war continues beyond bin Laden’s death, which is something that Obama has missed.

In other news, security measures have recently been beefed up around U.S. airports because of “concerns… that terrorists will ingest explosives and try to detonate them on a commercial flight.” But rest easy, folks;  Obama gave the order to kill Bin Laden so the war is over.


Hillary Clinton visits statue of husband Bill in Kosovo

In Afghanistan, HILLARY 2012, Pakistan, Politics, PRESIDENT HILLARY, Smart Power, the Taliban and al Qaeda on October 15, 2010 at 8:51 am

Secretary Clinton is in Kosovo today, and many people there love the Clintons. In the capital, Pristina, Clinton visited an 11-foot statue of her husband Bill, who as U.S. president backed the 1999 NATO air campaign that stopped a crackdown by Serbian forces on Kosovo’s ethnically Albanian majority. When he attended the unveiling of the statue last year, he was greeted with a giant cake bearing his portrait. And, both Hillary and Bill have been lauded on billboards in Pristina.

Update, 5:09 p.m.: At a “townterview” today, Clinton said the statue’s bronze hair reminds her of how Bill Clinton looked when she first met him, back in the 1970s:

I have to say it’s quite a statue. And my husband — it still looks like he has bronze-colored hair, which I like. Because when I met him — you know we’ve been married as of Monday 35 years — so when I met him when we were in law school, he had very brownish, reddish hair. And the statue reminds me of that, so of course I like the statue. Nobody should paint it white. Don’t paint it white. Keep it that color.

Secretary Clinton visits Kosovar clothing boutique named ‘Hillary’

Clinton: It’s ‘unacceptable’ that Pakistani elites aren’t paying more taxes

Secretary Clinton blasted Pakistan’s government today for not taxing its rich more, yet expecting developed countries to aid the country. She declared, “It is absolutely unacceptable for those with means in Pakistan not to be doing their fair share to help their own people while the taxpayers of Europe, the United States, and other contributing countries are all chipping in to do our part.”

Clinton made the remarks at a news conference in Brussels with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton (seen above) in which they discussed flood-recovery efforts in Pakistan. Clinton mentioned that a stable Pakistan is essential to the fight against terrorism, which is when she started on her pet peeve: poor countries that don’t tax their elite. Here are her demands of the Pakistani government, which you can also listen to in the video below at link:

“We also believe that stability in Pakistan is essential to our shared fight against terrorism and to protect the security of the people of our country and friends and allies like those in Europe. Now, of course, the international community can only do so much. Pakistan itself must take immediate and substantial action to mobilize its own resources, and in particular to reform its economy.”

The most important step that Pakistan can take is to pass meaningful reforms that will expand its tax base. The government must require that the economically affluent and elite in Pakistan support the government and people of Pakistan. We have been very clear on that, and I am pleased that the government is responding. I know how difficult this is, but it is absolutely unacceptable for those with means in Pakistan not to be doing their fair share to help their own people while the taxpayers of Europe, the United States, and other contributing countries are all chipping in to do our part. The government must also take steps to alleviate the crippling power shortages that stifle economic growth while making life difficult for the Pakistani people.

If U.S. President Barack Obama is having such a hard time repealing the Bush tax cuts on America’s rich, his administration is going to have an even harder time getting another country’s government to increase taxes on its rich (or begin collecting taxes from the rich in the first place). Clinton is certainly right that Pakistan’s elite should pay its fair share of taxes — the rich there pay laughably small amounts or none at all, Clinton pointed out last month. But, the United States has limited influence on the country’s government. Just two weeks ago, Pakistan closed the Torkham Gate crossing into Afghanistan after U.S. forces accidentally killed several Pakistani border guards. The crossing has since been reopened, but the multiday closure held up trucks that supply international forces in Afghanistan. So, who’s really in a position to be calling the shots?

Clinton supports making peace with Taliban who meet clear conditions

Secretary Clinton said today that she and the U.S. government support reintegration and reconciliation with Taliban members who meet specific criteria. We are “willing to support what’s called reintegration — namely, people on the battlefield coming off and going back into their society — and reconciliation, which is a much more political process to work out terms of peace with people who [have] led the Taliban, but only on very clear conditions,” she told ABC’s Robin Roberts during an interview in Brussels, where she attended a NATO ministerial meeting.

Those “clear conditions” are:

* Renouncing violence and laying down arms.
* Renouncing al Qaeda.
* Abiding by Afghan laws and the Afghan Constitution.

Clinton was cautious with her remarks and said she’s unsure how many Taliban leaders would agree to these conditions. In fact she said, “I think it’s highly unlikely that the leadership of the Taliban that refused to turn over bin Laden in 2001 will ever reconcile. But stranger things have happened in the history of war, but it can only happen if they [are] willing to abide by the red lines that we and the Afghan government have established.”

Other the other hand, Clinton sounded somewhat optimistic about lower-level Taliban members who likely joined in the first place just to get a paycheck. “I am increasingly convinced that many of the lower-level Taliban, young men who frankly went to fight for the Taliban because they got paid more than they could make anywhere else — I believe that they are, in increasing numbers, laying down their arms and coming back into society.”

She also told Roberts, “What we are seeing is a move by the lower-level fighters, many of them, to leave the battlefield, which is all to the good because they are being convinced that this fight is no longer one they want to be part of.”

Anything about the Taliban joining peace talks or becoming part of the Afghan government will make most Americans nervous. Anyone can pay mere lip service to meeting the three “red line” conditions listed above; how do you tell whether someone isn’t surreptitiously supporting violence and al Qaeda on the side? I also wish Clinton had reiterated that no political reconciliation should come at the price of Afghanistan’s women — which is one of the scariest things about involving the Taliban in peace talks and the government. Back in July during her visit to Kabul, Clinton made it starkly clear that Afghan women can’t be marginalized in the reconciliation process, saying:

” I don’t think there is such a political solution that would be a lasting, sustainable one that would turn the clock back on women. That is a recipe for a return to the kind of Afghanistan — if not in the entire country, in significant parts of the country — that would once again be a breeding ground for terrorism. So we’ve got our red lines, and they are very clear: Any reconciliation process that the United States supports, recognizing that this is an Afghan-led process, must require that anyone who wishes to rejoin society and the political system must lay down their weapons and end violence, renounce al Qaeda, and be committed to the Constitution and laws of Afghanistan, which guarantee the rights of women.

Clinton to Ahmadinejad: ‘We reject any efforts to destabilize’ Lebanon

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was greeted with rose petals in Lebanon today, but Secretary Clinton has a message that the Iranian president might find less rosy:

The United States supports the integrity and sovereignty of Lebanon. We reject any efforts to destabilize or inflame tensions within Lebanon.
Clinton made the remarks, reported by AFP, while in Kosovo. The U.S. government is concerned that Iran is trying to draw Lebanon closer into its orbit and that Iranian support for Hezbollah militants in Lebanon weakens Lebanese sovereignty.

Update, 2:05 p.m.: Here is Clinton’s complete remark on Ahmadinejad’s visit to Lebanon:
With respect to President Ahmadinejad’s visit to Lebanon, the United States supports the integrity and sovereignty of Lebanon. We reject any efforts to destabilize or inflame tensions within Lebanon. We are very committed to supporting the Lebanese Government as it deals with a number of challenges in its region. And we would hope that no visitor would do anything or say anything that would give cause to greater tension or instability in that country.

And I don’t know whether anything I might say would have any influence; I highly doubt it. But I believe that it’s a message that the world needs to convey to the Iranians because of the balance within Lebanon that needs to be maintained.

Secretary Clinton in the Balkans

Hillary says: ‘Our Goal Is to Defeat Al-Qaida and Its Extremist Allies’

In Afghanistan, foreign policy, Global News, Madame Secretary Hillary Clinton on November 15, 2009 at 10:13 am

SPIEGEL Interview with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton


US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gives a thumbs up as she leaves Manila at Ninoy Aquino International Airport on November 13, 2009. Clinton stopped off in the Philippines for a two-day visit on the back of her participation at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Singapore earlier in the week. AFP PHOTO / NOEL CELIS

Thumbs up from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke to SPIEGEL about her hopes for Afghanistan, her fears about al-Qaida’s safe haven in Pakistan and her finite patience with Iran.

SPIEGEL: Madam Secretary, your government is considering sending more troops into Afghanistan. What for? Is it your goal to build a Western-style civil society there? Or is it just to prevent the establishment of new bases of terrorism?

Hillary Rodham Clinton : President Obama has not made any final decision. He has conducted a very deliberative process which has explored every assumption underlying every action. I think that this process alone has been quite productive. But I think it is fair to say that in the course of our examination, our goal is to defeat al-Qaida and its extremist allies.

SPIEGEL: And what does this mean for the Afghan population, for their daily life?

Clinton : We are hopeful for the future of the people of Afghanistan to have a better life, to have political, social, economic development. But we are in Afghanistan because we cannot permit the return of a staging platform for terrorists. We think that al-Qaida and the other extremists are part of a syndicate of terror, with al-Qaida still being an inspiration, a funder, a trainer, an equipper and director of a lot what goes on. Two months ago we have arrested a gentleman who was plotting, it’s alleged, against the subway system in New York who went to a training camp of al-Qaida.

SPIEGEL: There are terrorist attacks in Afghanistan on a daily basis. Therefore a lot of people in Germany ask: Do we really have to defend our freedom there? Should our troops die for a corrupt government?

Clinton : I don’t think they are fighting and sacrificing for the Afghan government — they do this for all of us. The soldiers in the Afghan army are willing to fight as well and they are often dying alongside our soldiers. It is very clear that the people in Afghanistan do not want the Taliban back. In every single survey that we have ever seen, they reject the extremism that they lived with from the Taliban. In order to accomplish the goal we set of having a country that is able to stand up and defend itself, there has to be an effort for more accountability; the rule of law; security. Our chances of success in this struggle are enhanced by a government in Afghanistan that can be a partner that can help to train and deploy a bigger and more effective security force. We have to try to better organize our efforts and try to demand more from the Afghan government itself.

SPIEGEL: After the election fraud in favor of President Hamid Karzai — shouldn’t you insist on a government of national unity, including his challenger Abdullah Abdullah?

Clinton : Well, I think that what we are interested in is an effective government. Who the personalities are is not as big a concern as having competent, effective, honest members of the government. But we are not only looking at the government in Kabul, we are also looking at the government throughout the country. Because very often, it is local governance, as it has historically been in Afghanistan, that delivers services, that provides security. So we think more has to be done with the local government structures.

SPIEGEL: Do we understand you correctly: The US government is thinking about naming local governors or at least influencing their nomination?

Clinton : I think that a number of us — not just the United States but a number of NATO members, too — agree with what Prime Minister Brown said last week: That there has to be more accountability. We do see this as in our national security interest, but part of being successful and protecting our interest is having a better partner in Afghanistan. And we will be making our views known and we will have certain measurements of accountability that we expect.

SPIEGEL: President Karzai has already made clear that he refuses to tolerate interference.

Clinton : We do not think that is interference. The most common kind of formulation that I and others have learned from the Afghans themselves is: We need your help to get us in a position where we can defend ourselves against the threats of the Taliban and al-Qaida-terrorists – and then we need you to go. Well, that pretty much summarizes what we want to do as well. We have no intention of staying or occupying territory. But we want to leave a stable enough situation behind that the Afghans can defend themselves.

Part 2 and 3 at link:

Clinton outraged by guards’ sexual misconduct

In Afghanistan, Armor Group of North America, Madame Secretary Hillary Clinton on September 4, 2009 at 11:59 pm

Hillary US Afgan GuardsWASHINGTON (AP) – Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is “genuinely offended” by reports of misconduct by private guards working for the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan, a State Department spokesman said Thursday.

Those who engaged in such activities will be dismissed from their posts, spokesman P.J. Crowley said.

Allegations of lewd behavior and sexual misconduct among the private security contractors guarding the embassy surfaced including reports of threats, intimidation and guards and supervisors in various stages of nudity at parties flowing with alcohol.

Clinton “is very displeased that this could have happened and that this could have happened without our knowledge,” Crowley said.

Any employees of ArmorGroup North America who created what a watchdog group described as a “Lord of the Flies” environment at the guard’s living quarters “will be removed and taken out of the country and will find a new line of work,” he said. The “Lord of the Flies” reference is to a novel about a group of British schoolboys stranded on a desert island who try, but fail, to govern themselves in a chaotic setting.

The State Department launched an investigation following the allegations from the Project on Government Oversight, the Washington-based independent watchdog group.

In at least one case, supervisors allegedly brought prostitutes into the quarters where the guards live, a serious breach of security and discipline, the group said.

In other instances, members of the guard force have drawn Afghans into activities forbidden by Muslims, such as drinking alcoholic beverages.

“This violated our values,” Crowley said. “This potentially compromised … the important work of the United States embassy in Kabul.”

The State Department has insisted security at the embassy in Kabul, one of the country’s most important diplomatic outposts, hasn’t been compromised.

ArmorGroup was awarded the $189 million security contract in March 2007 and has been repeatedly warned of performance deficiencies. Wackenhut Services, ArmorGroup’s parent company, referred all questions to the State Department. Spokeswoman Susan Pitcher said the company is fully cooperating with the State Department’s investigation.

Karl Eikenberry, the U.S. ambassador in Afghanistan, is actively involved in the inquiry, Crowley said. About 60 people have already been interviewed.

Alcohol has been prohibited at Camp Sullivan, the offsite location near the embassy where the ArmorGroup guards live, and diplomatic security staff have been assigned to the camp, according to the embassy.

On the Net:

Project on Government Oversight:

U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan:


Besides being awarded the contract in 2007, Armor Group of North America, a subsidiary of Wackenhut , should suffer penalties and a partial refund for breach of  contract providing inferior services not up to US standards as promised in their contract.

Secretary Clinton in the Hague for Astan Conference

In Afghanistan, Global News, Politics, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, The Hague, United States on March 31, 2009 at 5:43 am

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton gestures, as she arrives at Schiphol Airport, Netherlands, Monday March 30, 2009, ahead of Tuesday's U.N.-sponsored conference on the future of Afghanistan. The international conference on pacifying Afghanistan will include two unlikely partners for peace, the United States and Iran. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will attend the U.N.-sponsored conference Tuesday in the Netherlands. And a Dutch diplomat said Monday that Iran will send its deputy foreign minister, Medhi Akhundzadeh, to the meeting, as well. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton gestures, as she arrives at Schiphol Airport, Netherlands, Monday March 30, 2009, ahead of Tuesday's U.N.-sponsored conference on the future of Afghanistan. The international conference on pacifying Afghanistan will include two unlikely partners for peace, the United States and Iran. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will attend the U.N.-sponsored conference Tuesday in the Netherlands. And a Dutch diplomat said Monday that Iran will send its deputy foreign minister, Medhi Akhundzadeh, to the meeting, as well. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)


US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton waves inside the limousine shortly after her arrival at Schiphol airport to attend the UN-conference on the future of Afghanistan. The Hague conference is officially being co-hosted by Afghanistan, the United Nations and the Dutch government.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton waves inside the limousine shortly after her arrival at Schiphol airport to attend the UN-conference on the future of Afghanistan. The Hague conference is officially being co-hosted by Afghanistan, the United Nations and the Dutch government.

U.S. envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke (L) speaks with Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen before a meeting in The Hague March 30, 2009. The United States is expected to seek international support for its renewed commitment to defeat Islamist militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan at a U.N. conference in the Netherlands on Tuesday.Washington is hoping to enlist support from Iran, Russia, China and India amongst others for a new strategy to end a stalemate in Afghanistan and undercut an Islamist insurgency spilling increasingly into neighboring Pakistan.

U.S. envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke (L) speaks with Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen before a meeting in The Hague March 30, 2009. The United States is expected to seek international support for its renewed commitment to defeat Islamist militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan at a U.N. conference in the Netherlands on Tuesday.Washington is hoping to enlist support from Iran, Russia, China and India amongst others for a new strategy to end a stalemate in Afghanistan and undercut an Islamist insurgency spilling increasingly into neighboring Pakistan.

Clinton Urges Aid for Afghanistan, Warns on Threats


By Indira A.R. Lakshmanan, Gregory Viscusi and James G. Neuger

March 31 (Bloomberg) — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pleaded for more financial aid for Afghanistan, warning world leaders not to use the economic slump as an excuse to short- change the country as the terrorist threat mounts.

Outlining President Barack Obama’s new war strategy at a meeting in The Hague, Netherlands, Clinton said extremists are on the march in Afghanistan and Pakistan and urged a renewed global push to stabilize the region.

“All too often in the past seven years, our efforts have been undermanned, underresourced and underfunded,” Clinton said. “While there is great temptation to retreat inward in these difficult economic times, it is precisely at such moments that we must redouble our efforts.”

The one-day, 73-country conference marks a turning point in the U.S. policy on Afghanistan, as Obama shifts the focus to economic reconstruction, eases pressure on Europe to send more troops, and steps up efforts to stamp out terrorist havens in neighboring Pakistan.

Since taking office in January, Obama has ordered 17,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan to fight the resurgent Taliban, the radical Islamist movement ousted by the U.S. in 2001 after the Sept. 11 attacks. As part of a strategic review announced last week, Obama also said he will send 4,000 more trainers to Afghanistan to build up the local army.

European leaders, hectored by the Bush administration for failing to dispatch enough frontline troops to the war zone, expressed relief that the U.S. will shoulder the extra military burdens.

New U.S. Approach

The new U.S. approach is not to badger European governments to send forces they don’t have, a senior U.S. official told reporters in Brussels yesterday. Instead, as shown by today’s “big tent” conference, the point is to encourage allies to do what they can.

While financial aid to rebuild Afghanistan’s economy and build up its 79,000-strong army figures high on the priority list, today’s conference isn’t meant to solicit extra donations on top of more than $21 billion pledged at a Paris conference last June.

Still, some new aid was on offer. China offered $75 million over five years and Spain said it will consider pledging 120 million euros ($160 million) for 2010-12. The European Commission, donor of $2.1 billion to Afghanistan since 2002, said it will provide another 60 million euros for rural development and to help stage Afghan elections on Aug. 20. The U.S. offered $40 million for the elections, further defraying costs estimated by the United Nations at $220 million.

As the deepest economic slump since World War II strains government budgets, Clinton also said much of the money plowed into Afghanistan has been misspent on programs that don’t work.


Secretary Clinton: Travel to The Hague for International Conference on Afghanistan, March 31

In Afghanistan, foreign policy, Global News, Madame Secretary Hillary Clinton, news, Politics, The Hague, United States on March 30, 2009 at 11:11 am

March 31, 2009 to April 1, 2009

sos-sealAt the invitation of Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will travel to the Netherlands to attend the “International Conference on Afghanistan: A Comprehensive Strategy in a Regional Context” in The Hague on March 31. Building on the achievements of the conferences held in Bonn, in London, and most recently in Paris last year, The Hague Ministerial should reaffirm the solid and long-term commitment of the international community to supporting the Government of Afghanistan in shaping a better future for Afghanistan and its people.

Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke will accompany Secretary Clinton. The ministerial discussion will be co-chaired by the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Afghanistan Kai Eide, Afghan Foreign – Afghan Minister for Foreign Affairs Spanta, and Foreign Minister Verhagen. While in the Netherlands, Secretary Clinton will also have a bilateral meeting with Foreign Minister Verhagen to discuss issues of mutual interest.

International Conference on Afghanistan: A Comprehensive Strategy in a Regional Context

Hillary Clinton Seeks Support On Afghan Plan, Iran Contact

by Sue Pleming

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was en route to the Hague on Monday, set for her first contact with Iran at an international meeting and seeking support for Washington’s new war strategy in Afghanistan.

U.S. officials said Clinton did not plan “substantive” talks with Iran on the sidelines of a conference on Afghanistan in the Netherlands but she hoped Tehran’s presence there would be helpful and could set a good tone for future engagement.”We hope they will sit down with us all at the table and that the Iranians will come ready, willing and able to help Afghanistan and Pakistan,” said State Department spokesman Robert Wood, who is traveling with Clinton to the Hague.

“We want them to play a positive role,” he told Reuters.

The White House said it would like specifically to see Tehran’s help in fighting drug trafficking from Afghanistan, pointing to problems with heroin abuse in Iran.

The Obama administration, in a reversal of predecessor President George W. Bush’s policy of isolating Iran, wants to engage Tehran, particularly on areas of mutual concern like Afghanistan.

But U.S. officials have made clear pleasantries exchanged between Clinton and the Iranian delegation expected in the Hague will not end three decades of hostility with Tehran.

The demand remains that Iran must stop sensitive nuclear work the West says is aimed at building an atomic bomb and Iran argues is for electricity.

“Iran has a right to be a member of the international community, but with that right comes responsibilities — principally as it relates, in this instance, to its nuclear program,” said Denis McDonough, White House deputy national security adviser, in a weekend conference call.

Clinton proposed Tuesday’s one-day conference in the Hague, held under U.N. and Dutch auspices, and said Iran should be there along with delegates expected from over 80 nations.

She sees the conference as an opportunity to win global status of support for the Obama administration’s new strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which was announced last Friday.


“We are looking for buy-in, first and foremost,” said a senior State Department official of the new U.S. plan.

President Barack   Obama’s goal is to crush al Qaeda militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan and adopt a more regional approach to the conflict by involving neighbors such as Iran, as well as players India, China and Russia.

The United States also plans to send 4,000 more troops to train the Afghan army, along with hundreds of civilians to improve the delivery of basic services. This is in addition to 17,000 combat troops being added to Afghanistan before August elections.

Wood said Clinton was not going to the Hague armed with a “shopping list,” but others must do more and could offer practical help with equipment, transportation, training for Afghanistan’s police force and reconstruction projects.

“Failure is a real possibility. We have got to marshal all of our resources in a coherent and coordinated fashion.”

Former U.S. envoy to Afghanistan, James Dobbins, said he expected European countries could match U.S. offers in terms of economic resources and civilian personnel.

“I think that within reason the Europeans are going to respond,” said Dobbins,   now with the Rand Corporation think tank.

Dobbins said while Afghanistan would be the main focus at the meeting, Pakistan would have at least equal priority on the fringes of the conference.

The United States hopes a strong statement will emerge at the end of the meeting, emphasizing “unity of purpose” in tackling al Qaeda in Afghanistan and safe havens in Pakistan.

“It’s really a matter of coming together on the basic strategy,” said the senior State Department official.

Thank goodness our girl hasn’t deserted US!

In Afghanistan, economy, fabulous women, Global News, Rise Hillary Rise, Smart Power on March 24, 2009 at 8:45 am

She was my first choice. She was my ONLY choice. How many of you needed a “CHANGE”? How many of you thought just about anyone could be president IF they surrounded themselves with brilliant, competent people? Yes, YOU and Oprah… Thanks a bunch, you silly ignorant, erstwhile people for closing your eyes to the Grandest Theft of another presidency. Playing directly into the hands of power players standing in the wings laughing at your stupidity, patiently waiting for the biggest Power Grab in the history of the World. By WHO, you say? You still don’t know? The WORLD BANKERS if you’re too busy to pay attention because you think you are immune to this financial crisis!

Well, common sense was overruled by impetuosity. The petulance of children wanting something shiny and new. Something that never had value for the price they were willing to pay. Something plastic. Something that would never hold up under the strain and difficulties of the problems facing the next president that would be needing immediate attention. Plastic is not steel and plastic is exactly what you forced us into by having your children take the lead and advising YOU who would be the best choice for the next president of this country.

When I heard Caroline Kennedy announce to the World, her children took her by the hand to hear Obama speak; she then claimed, Obama (HE)..his vision is the closest she has come to hearing a presidential candidate with the inspiration and vision of her father. … I might have beena child myself at the time of the Kennedy assassination but I did pick up a book or two during my formative years when my Dad heavily invested in my unorthodox college education. Having private tutelage is not always representative of privilege and wealth. My father felt children need to be trained to think for themselves. Obviously, somewhere along the way, Caroline has been caught up in her own celebrity and has lost the good sense of the culture and values her mother and father truly represented.

Thank goodness, Governor Paterson did not succumb to the pressure of the gated Caroline community who gave their half hearted endorsements to a another wayward Kennedy grown up around the core values of her Uncle rather than the legacy left to her by her parents.

My Dad was a fanatic about committing cumulative errors because it leads to irreconcilable events. Obama and Caroline are sterling examples of cumulative mistakes. I’m thankful New Yorkers woke up in time and discouraged Paterson doing just that, making a bad situation worse . And I’m happy to say, timing is everything. It wasn’t the time to distract the focus with inane candidates. It was the time to stay focused on the prize and proceed unrelentingly until we prevailed.

We did and were rewarded with Paterson’s appointment of Kirsten Gillibrand , as the next NY Senator. The thrill of victory is sweet for those wonderful New Yorkers who “thought for themselves.”

Hillary to attend Afghan Conference on March 31…

state-dept-logoReuters) – The State Department announced on Monday that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would attend a Conference on Afghanistan next week but did not say whether she would meet Iranian officials there.

State Department spokesman Robert Wood said Clinton would be accompanied by U.S. special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, to the conference, which is set to be held on March 31 in the Dutch city of The Hague.

“The Hague ministerial should reaffirm the solid and long-term commitment of the international community to supporting the government of Afghanistan in shaping a better future for Afghanistan and its people,” Wood said.

Clinton and Holbrooke are expected to provide details of a review of U.S. strategy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan, which is set to be released by the Obama administration before the Dutch conference.

Earlier this month, Clinton said Iran’s foreign minister also would be invited to attend The Hague conference, setting up her first chance to meet a senior official from Tehran in her new role as top U.S. diplomat.

Last week U.S. President Barack Obama sent a video message to Iran’s government and people in which he said Washington wanted to have “constructive ties” with Tehran.

In an about face from President George W. Bush’s isolation policy of Tehran, the Obama administration has said it would like to engage Iran on a range of issues, from its nuclear program to assistance in stabilizing Afghanistan.

Wood said he knew of no meetings planned between Clinton and the Iranians, but also did not rule it out.

Iran has said it would be interested in attending the meeting in the Netherlands but has not yet said who could be there.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice attended several conferences aimed at stabilizing Iraq, where Iran was also invited.

Rice exchanged pleasantries with Iran’s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki at those events but never had substantive talks with him.

2009 International Women of Courage Award Recipient:

In Afghanistan, foreign policy, Global News, Human Rights, Madame Secretary Hillary Clinton, news, United Kingdom on March 10, 2009 at 8:48 pm

Mutabar Tadjibayeva: “They Can Never Break My Spirit”


About the Author: Ruth Bennett serves as the Public Affairs Advisor for the Office of International Women’s Issues. This entry is one in a series of profiles of the 2009 International Women of Courage Award recipients.

“They can break my body, but they can never break my spirit.”

Mutabar Tadjibayeva is one of the most vocal activists in Uzbekistan, a country in which human rights issues remain a serious concern. As Chair of her own NGO, the Fiery Hearts Club, Ms. Tadjibayeva has brought attention to human rights issues in the Ferghana Valley – one of the most sensitive regions of Central Asia – and helped people seek justice. She has monitored trials, published articles on child labor, reported on violations of women’s rights, and organized public campaigns. In August 2003, Ms. Tadjibayeva suffered serious head injuries and was hospitalized for more than a week after a demonstration she organized demanding the resignation of a corrupt local prosecutor was forcibly dispersed by police.

In October 2005, Ms. Tadjibayeva was arrested at her home as she was preparing to travel to Ireland for a human rights conference and charged with several counts of criminal activity based on her activism. Despite the threat of a long prison sentence, Ms. Tadjibayeva remained defiant and told the court, “I do not regret my activities and I will continue them regardless of the verdict.” In March 2006, she was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment. Ms. Tadjibayeva’s health suffered as a result of poor prison conditions, and she was subjected to forced psychiatric treatment and long periods of solitary confinement.

In June 2008, Ms. Tadjibayeva was released from prison on medical grounds, though she remains under a three-year suspended sentence. Despite the suffering she’s endured, and at substantial risk to herself, Ms. Tadjibayeva has renewed her activism since her release and is in the process of trying to register the Fiery Hearts group with local authorities. She continues to criticize prison conditions during interviews with independent and international journalists. At the same time, she continues to seek constructive dialogue with authorities on human rights issues.

While Ms. Tadjibayeva has paid a tremendous personal price for her defense of others, she has shown no regrets for her continued activism. Her astonishing courage is a force for transparency, democracy, and good governance in Uzbekistan as well as a larger example of the power of an individual to take a stand and marshal international support for the cause of human rights. As she commented shortly after her release…”they can break my body, but they can never break my spirit.”

SOS Blog

Secretary Clinton and Excellency Bernard Koucher

In Afghanistan, economy, foreign policy, French Minister Koucher, Madame Secretary Hillary Clinton, news, Politics, Washington, WordPress Political Bloggers alliance, WordPress Political Blogs on February 6, 2009 at 11:51 pm

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Secretary Clinton and Excellency Bern…“, posted with vodpod

The United States and France Pledge Continued Transatlantic Alliance
February 05, 2009
Hillary Rodham Clinton Secretary of State:

Remarks With French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner After Their Meeting
Treaty Room, Washington, DC

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good afternoon.




SECRETARY CLINTON: We’ll do the translation. I was delighted to welcome Foreign Minister Kouchner here today. We’ve had a very useful and productive discussion on a wide range of topics, first over a private lunch, and then with our various aides.

I just want to reiterate that the United States is committed to our transatlantic alliance. This is an alliance that is one of the oldest and closest that the United States has in the world. We appreciate France’s leadership, especially during its recent EU presidency. And I want to publicly thank President Sarkozy for his leadership working with the United States to achieve a ceasefire in Georgia. And I thank you as well, Mr. Minister, for the very broad-based efforts that France has undertaken to address the global financial challenges. Our alliance is rooted in common values, and we have put that alliance to work in support of security, justice, and opportunity.

We discussed a number of the difficult situations that confront us in the world. We will continue to coordinate closely in the Middle East and cooperate on Gaza, humanitarian aid, and the never-ending pursuit of a just and secure peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

You know, the United States is also very proud and grateful to have France as a coalition partner in our efforts to strengthen the Afghan people’s efforts to build a better future. The minister is very familiar with Afghanistan, and we spoke of his longstanding work in that country, going back many years, on behalf of the people. And I was particularly impressed with his description of the hospital that the French have built in Kabul, which is now being run by the Afghan people themselves.

We’ll continue to work closely as we close the Guantanamo detention center. And on behalf of our mutual concerns regarding Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, we’re going to use smart diplomacy together to engage the international community. And we will do so, including Russia as a cooperative partner, because we intend to forge a more constructive relationship.

So, Mr. Minister, there is much ahead of us on global financial reform, on making sure that we forge an even closer working relationship. And I, on a personal level, look forward to working with you and advancing our shared objectives of liberty, peace, and prosperity around the world.

FOREIGN MINISTER KOUCHNER: (Via interpreter.) Madame Secretary, I am very happy and honored to see you here today, to see you again here today in your new position, which, of course, makes the two of you – the two of us colleagues.

Of course, we saluted the election of President Obama, and although we are not always a hundred percent in agreement, our friendship, friendship between our two countries, is a very sound friendship. It’s an old friendship and it’s a friendship that has a lot of future to it.

(In English.) So we talk about a lot of subjects. We were (inaudible) the world with some consideration, but mainly on Middle East – pardon. (Laughter.)

So on Middle East, we are really very anxious about the situation of the people of Gaza, and we were in agreement together with Madame Secretary of State to make pressure on both side to open the crossing. The Gaza people, they need so-called humanitarian assistance. And we’ll do it together another time, even if this is difficult, because we are facing – all of us – the electoral process in Israel and the idea – very important idea of Abu Mazen, the president of the PLO, the Palestinian Authority, to set up – to try to set up a government of national unity. And we are, of course, supporting Abu Mazen, and we must strengthen him, but it will take some times.

Meanwhile, we must access to the people – we must accede to the people – sorry. For the rest, we were at complete agreement to support the Egyptian initiative, and you know that some talks are now – have been developed in Cairo in between the Hamas delegation, the PLO delegation, and we are waiting for the result of that with a very great support to the Egyptian. And there is a meeting in the – I think the – yes, the 2nd day of February, yes, in Cairo, and I hope we’ll get better support to Gaza people before this date.

We were talking about Afghanistan. We are talking about Darfur. We are talking about Guantanamo, and thank you for having closed this – I don’t know how to use – prison of Guantanamo. And with our friends of the European Union, we accept the idea of having a common position, if it is possible, European position, because you know that with Schengen, if one country accept one of the prisoner, he would be able to travel all – in all the places, in 22 countries – or 24 countries in Europe.

Afghanistan, it is a burden for us, but we need to succeed. We have to succeed in Afghanistan in offering support to the democratic elected government and to develop the access to the people. Afghanization is the word. For that, we need to secure the places, and with Madame Clinton we were talking a lot about that.

No, I know that I have to speak French. (Via interpreter) I’ll answer questions in French.

Full Text