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War Blog By: FrontPage Magazine
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, August 22, 2008


WHERE IS GEORGIA?

By Michael Ramirez


Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez

www.townhall.com/funnies  

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IT AIN'T EASY BEING GREEN

By John Hinderaker

Even in California. A survey of Californians released today suggests that support for anti-global warming measures is shallow at best.

Sixty-three percent of the 1,000 Californians surveyed said that they support the goal of reducing carbon emissions. But when they were asked to assume that cutting carbon would mean higher energy prices--which it obviously will--that support fell to 47 percent.

This is not surprising. Reducing carbon emissions will be popular until someone actually tries to do it, and the consequences become apparent. It's a bit shocking that, as this survey suggests, a considerable number of people don't understand that reducing carbon consumption means higher energy costs. Equally shocking is another of the survey's findings: an astonishing 80 percent had not heard about California's "landmark legislation," enacted in 2006, that that requires a decline in global warming gases to 1990 levels by 2020.

More evidence that the idea of a groundswell of public support for radical environmental measures is a myth.  Thursday, August 21, 2008

www.powerlineblog.com

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Map of major Pakistani Air Force bases, including the nuclear sites of Kamra and Sargodha. Pakistani air bases are the most likely sites to house nuclear weapons storage and launch facilities. Click to view.

The Taliban's suicide campaign against the Pakistani government is in full swing. The latest suicide bombings occurred outside a weapons factory just west of the capital of Islamabad in Punjab province.

More than seventy Pakistanis have been reported killed and more than eighty wounded after two suicide bombers detonated their vest "almost simultaneously" outside the gates of the Wah Cantt (military installation), Geo TV reported. The bombers detonated their vests within a minute of each other. The attack occurred just as workers were changing shifts in order to maximize casualties.

The Taliban took credit for today's attack. Mullah Omar, the spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, said the attack was a response to yesterday's airstrike in Wana, South Waziristan, that killed at least eight al Qaeda and Taliban fighters.

The Wah Cantt hosts three weapons complexes, according to Global Security. The attack occurred outside the gates of the Pakistani Ordnance Factories, a collection of 14 factories that produces arms and ammunition for the Pakistani armed forces. More than 40,000 Pakistanis are employed at the factories.

The Kamra Air Weapon Complex and Heavy Industries Taxila are also contained within the Wah Cantt. Taxila "is devoted to land combat systems," Global Security notes, while Kamra is believed to be connected with Pakistan's nuclear weapons program. The Pakistani Ordnance Factories are believed to store nuclear weapons at a "screwdriver level" - meaning the components are stored disassembled and can be assembled within hours of use.

The Taliban targeted Pakistani Air Force personnel outside the Kamra Air Force Base last December. Seven were wounded in the suicide bombing. Three other bombings and suicide attacks occurred near bases housing nuclear weapons last year. Numerous other attacks occurred at military and police installations.

The Pakistani government and the military have issued multiple statements assuring the Pakistani people and the west that the country's nuclear weapons are safeguarded and incapable of falling into the hands of terrorists. The US governement has voiced concerns over the safety of Pakistan's nukes.

Today's suicide bombing is the fourth mass-casualty strike by the Taliban since August 12. Two days ago, a Taliban suicide bomber struck at a hospital in Dera Ismail Khan. More than thirty were killed and 25 wounded in the attack.

Nine Pakistanis, including five policemen, were killed and more than 35 were wounded after a suicide bomber struck during Pakistan’s Independence Day celebration in the city of Lahore in Punjab province on Aug. 13.

The day prior, the Taliban took credit for a deadly bus bombing on a Pakistani Air Force bus in Peshawar. Thirteen Pakistanis, including 10 security officials, were killed and more than a dozen were wounded in the provincial capital of Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province.

The Taliban have repeatedly threatened to re-initiate suicide and bombing attacks throughout Pakistan if the government did not cease military operations in Swat and Bajaur. Baitullah Mehsud, the commander of the Pakistani Taliban, had previously threatened wage "jihad" and turn the provinces of Sindh and Punjab "into a furnace" if the operations did not cease. The Taliban cowed the Pakistani government into signing peace agreements after a vicious suicide and military campaign in 2007 and early 2008 that claimed thousands of Pakistani lives.  Thursday, August 21, 2008

www.longwarjournal.org

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NATO'S HARSH WARNING TO RUSSIA

By Jerry Holbert


Political Cartoons by Jerry Holbert

www.townhall.com/funnies  

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IRAQ DRAWDOWN "TIME HORIZONS" AGREED

By Ed Morrissey

With the Iraqi Army increasingly taking charge of security operations, Washington and Baghdad have agreed on a proposal that would see combat troops leaving Iraq by 2011, three years from now, and to leave major urban centers by the summer of 2009.  Iraq’s National Assembly would have to agree to these terms, and while some may object to the lengthier time frame than widely discussed, the Iraqis want to see some firm end to American combat operations, and would likely embrace this framework:

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said Thursday both sides had made progress in finalizing the principles of a long-term security treaty, but any deal still faces significant challenges in winning approval in Baghdad.

U.S. and Iraqi negotiating teams have concluded their formal talks aimed at hammering out the details of a draft agreement. The proposed deal will set the conditions for a continued U.S. military presence in Iraq. (See related article.)

A draft agreement now circulating sets 2011 as a goal for the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops, said Iraqi Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammed al-Haj Humood, who is the lead Iraqi negotiator, and other people familiar with the talks.

Another aspiration is to have U.S. troops leave population centers by June 30, 2009, and move to bases on the outskirts of those areas, these people said. Any agreement on a date would also allow for flexibility if security conditions suddenly worsen, these people said.

These time frames make a lot more sense now, with the security forces establishing order on their own, than they did two years ago when Democrats wanted an immediate retreat from Iraq.  The surge, which even Barack Obama now admits worked, gave the Maliki government enough time to press for political reconciliation while hitting hard at militias, insurgents, and al-Qaeda.  He had claimed as recently as four weeks ago that the surge didn’t help stabilize Iraq, a ridiculous notion on its face.

Now, however, with the Iraqi Army gaining its own strength and the wheels of democracy working in their normally messy but peaceful fashion, it’s appropriate to start looking at a long-term strategy of drawdown.  The Iraqis want to govern themselves, an opportunity afforded them by American troops and American stamina, but at some point American troops will get in the way.  If the Iraqi government wants a long-term presence of American military for support, then we can enter into such a partnership along the same lines as the relationships we have with Germany and South Korea.  That will eventually be their choice, and that time is coming sooner rather than later.

The drawdown will take several years, and for good reason.  Iraq has very little air power at the moment, and could not possibly defend its borders against its neighbors if necessary because of that.  They have limited capabilities in air power even for internal security issues and must rely on the American forces for assistance.  Their Navy is in even worse shape, although our assistance in that area doesn’t require a large footprint within Iraq.   We’re in the process of training their intel services from the ground up, which will take several more years.  However, for most of these efforts, American combat troops will not be needed.

The time horizons suggested in this proposal look realistic, if a bit optimistic, at least in terms of the pullback from the urban areas in ten months.  As long as that move does not trigger more violence, the gradual reduction of combat forces over the next two years following that should occur fairly naturally as the troops will have little to do.  Meanwhile, a lasting presence for logistical and training support can help strengthen Iraq without stepping on its sovereignty.  This is what victory looks like.

Will this affect the American presidential race?  Perhaps a bit in favor of Barack Obama.  John McCain gets the bragging rights, and can legitimately show that Obama’s judgment failed in the greatest test of the war.  It’s one thing to say that we shouldn’t have invaded Iraq, but another entirely to declare that we needed to retreat as Obama said repeatedly from 2006 forward and lose, rather than change strategies and beat the terrorists arrayed against us at the time.

However, the victory in Iraq makes that issue far less compelling than it was six months ago.  Voters will focus more on the economy, where Obama’s populism has proven attractive, and less on foreign policy, unless Georgia heats up again.  If Obama is smart, he’ll simply stop talking about Iraq altogether.  Thursday, August 21, 2008

http://hotair.com

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LAND VS. SEA

By Richard Fernandez


The wooden walls
The wooden walls

The real problem with NATO’s eastern frontier was highlighted by Poland’s demand it be provided with Patriot anti-aircraft missiles to as a precondition to hosting anti-ballistic missile basing on its soil. The Poles needed tactical reassurance to participate in the strategic equation. Missile defense might make Russia less likely to challenge the USA in a winner-take-all strategic showdown, but it did nothing to stop Moscow from exerting tactical pressures against America’s new allies in the “near abroad”. The Telegraph described the Patriot deal:

America and Poland have now signed the deal to install a US missile silo 100 miles or so from Kaliningrad, Russia’s Baltic outlet. The irony of the deal is that it was held up by Poland’s desire to have US patriot missile batteries installed on Polish soil. … Whereas the US missile silo is designed to intercept long range missiles from Iran or North Korea however, the US patriot batteries are very clearly a measure against what Warsaw considers its own “rogue state” - Russia.

The American alliance with Georgia formed part of the Black Sea strategy. The Heritage Foundation described how the Black Sea acted as the regional highway for Russia’s energy exports as well as a conduit for drugs and arms. America and Europe has an interest in bringing this area under control, or at least under influence. But the question was how: NATO, apart from Turkey, had no obvious leverage in this area. Heritage wrote:

Oil and gas from Central Asia and the Middle East move along Black Sea shipping lanes and pipelines to Europe and other points west. These same shipping lanes are used for the traffic in narcotics, persons (including terrorists), conventional weapons, and components for weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The Black Sea region is an important plat­form for military, reconstruction, and stabilization operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and possibly Iran, as well as for the protection of energy shipping lanes between the Caspian region and Western markets. It is also Europe’s new southeastern bor­der. Thus, both the European Union and the United States have strong interests in safeguarding the movement of some goods, preventing the movement of others, and maintaining a presence in the Black Sea region.

But with Turkey and Russia financially benefiting from energy deals to Europe, it is doubtful how far Ankara could be pushed into allowing the projection of American power into the Black Sea — and incidentally — into Georgia. Turkey, although nominally a NATO ally, might not be completely relied upon to oppose Russian adventures in the Black Sea. Still, the local is not the global. America, as a maritime power, has the option of exerting influence on one part of a rival land empire border in order to relieve a crisis in another. While the Black Sea may insusceptible to direct pressure, it can obviously influence Russia lay elsewhere; in energy politics and in Eastern Europe.

Thus while NATO cannot ride to the direct aid of Georgia, it can mount challenges to Russia that will force Moscow to expend energy in other quarters. In the end, the Kremlin will have to decide whether the benefits of making an example of Georgia will not be offset by losses it may suffer in other quarters. Poland, reacting to fears of Russia, has tentatively joined the game on the side of its Western allies, but wants SAMs to raise the price of any Russian military adventure against it.

Mahan wrote of the last maritime power’s struggle against a conqueror on land: “Those far-distant storm-beaten ships upon which [Napoleon’s] Grand Army never looked, stood between it and the dominion of the world.” Russia might be in South Ossetia, but America is in Poland. That’s the way an asymmetric geopolitical rivalry works. There may be more ways into the Black Sea than the Bosporus. Wednesday, August 20, 2008

http://pajamasmedia.com/richardfernandez

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EYEBALL TO EYEBALL

By Scott Stantis


Political Cartoons by Scott Stantis

www.townhall.com/funnies  

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ROP KILLS 59 IN PAKISTAN

By Charles Johnson

Suicide bombers struck at a weapons complex in Pakistan that some think may be engaged in nuclear weapons development: Suicide bombing at Pakistan arms complex kills 59.

WAH, Pakistan - Twin Taliban suicide bombings at Pakistan’s largest weapons complex killed at least 59 people Thursday, heightening the turmoil following Pervez Musharraf’s ouster as president.

The bombers struck two different gates of the government weapons complex just as workers were leaving. The complex, comprising 12 factories, is located in Wah, a garrison city 20 miles west of the capital, Islamabad.

Army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas said the perimeter is guarded by a dedicated paramilitary force. Experts have suggested that facilities related to Pakistan’s secretive nuclear weapons program are located in the Wah area, possibly including a uranium enrichment plant. Abbas insisted the complex attacked on Thursday was producing only conventional weapons.

And just to make things even more interesting, the Islamist ruling coalition that drove Pervez Musharraf out of power is now collapsing.

The ruling coalition, made up of traditional rivals who were united primarily in their determination to force Musharraf from office, meanwhile appeared to be veering toward collapse. The two main parties have been unable to bridge key differences such as whether judges fired by Musharraf should be quickly reinstated and who should succeed him as president.

Pakistanis have urged the civilian government to stop bickering and turn quickly to tackling the country’s problems from an economic downturn to extremist violence in the volatile northwest, where fighting between security forces and Islamic militants has escalated in recent weeks.  Thursday, August 21, 2008

http://littlegreenfootballs.com

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Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the tribal areas. Map from PBS' Frontline. Click to view.

An attack on an al Qaeda safe house in Pakistan's lawless tribal agency of South Waziristan killed at least eight, including foreign terrorists, security officials in Pakistan told AFP.

Reports indicate two missiles struck home that served as "a known hideout for militants" in the town of Wana. The home was owned by a tribesman named Haji Yaqub. "Arabs often stayed with him," a resident in Wana told AFP. Yaqub was reported wounded in the strike. There have been no reports of senior al Qaeda leaders killed in the attack.

The Pakistani military was unable to confirm the details of the attack. "What report we have received is that there is an explosion in a house in Wana," Military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said. "There are also casualties, but we do not have any confirmation. It is also not confirmed whether it was a missile."

The Pakistani military has a presence on the outskirts of South Waziristan. The military withdrew from bases in South Waziristan after taking heavy casualties and having forts overrun in late 2007 and early 2008.

South Waziristan is a known safe haven for al Qaeda, the Taliban, and allied terrorist movements. Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, is based in South Waziristan. Baitullah has conducted a vicious suicide campaign throughout Pakistan and an effective military campaign in the tribal areas.

The Taliban, al Qaeda, and allied terrorist groups have established 157 training camps and more than 400 support locations in the tribal areas and the Northwest Frontier Province, US intelligence officials have told The Long War Journal. Last year, 29 camps were reported to be in operation in North and South Waziristan.

Targeting al Qaeda's safe havens

This year's attack tempo on Taliban and al Qaeda havens in Pakistan is higher than previous years. Ten camps and safe houses were confirmed to have been targeted by the US military in 2006 and 2007. The Wana attack is the seventh confirmed US strike on al Qaeda and Taliban safe houses and camps in Pakistan this year.

Three senior al Qaeda commanders have been killed in this year's strikes.

The US military killed Abu Khabab al Masri during a targeted strike on an al Qaeda safe house in the village of Zeralita in the Azam Warsak region of South Waziristan on July 28. Khabab was al Qaeda's chief bomb maker and headed its chemical and biological weapons programs.

On May 14, a US strike killed Abu Sulayman Jazairi, in an airstrike against a Taliban and al Qaeda safe house in the town of Damadola in Pakistan’s Bajaur tribal agency along with 13 associates. Jazairi was a senior Algerian operative for al Qaeda’s central organization who directed the group’s external operations. He is described as a senior trainer, an explosives expert, and an operational commander tasked with planning attacks on the West.

Abu Laith al Libi was killed in a US strike inside the North Waziristan tribal agency in Pakistan in late January. Al Libi was the leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group and served as a chief spokesman for al Qaeda. Laith also commanded al Qaeda forces in Afghanistan.

Pakistani sources have put out false reports of the death of three senior al Qaeda and Taliban leaders this summer. Ayman al Zawahiri, al Qaeda's second in command, was rumored to have been killed in the South Waziristan strike that killed Khabab. Zawahiri appeared on a videotape a week later, urging Pakistanis to fight the government.

The Pakistani military speculated that Faqir Mohammed, the Taliban emir, or leader in Bajaur and the deputy leader of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, was killed during fighting against Pakistani forces in the tribal agency on August 15. Faqir later spoke to a Pakistani television station.

Mustafa Abu Yazid, al Qaeda's commander in Afghanistan, was also reported killed during the heavy fighting in Bajaur last week. Al Qaeda never confirmed Yazid's death, and the Pakistani military and intelligence agencies never presented evidence he was killed.

While the strikes have disrupted al Qaeda's senior leadership, they have done little to disrupt the growth of al Qaeda and the Taliban in northwestern Pakistan.  Wednesday, August 20, 2008

www.longwarjournal.org




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