Rohit Kumar's Views

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Posts Tagged ‘U.S President Barack Obama

Canada wants to use Pak bases for Afghan pullout

leave a comment »

* Request still under consideration by Foreign Office

By Iqbal Choudhry

ISLAMABAD: As NATO countries are planning to leave Afghanistan, the Canadian government has requested Pakistani authorities to allow them the use of Pakistani airbases during the withdrawal of their troops from Afghanistan, sources told Daily Times on Thursday.

According to the sources, Canadian troops will leave Afghanistan next year and their government wants to use Pakistani airbases for ‘convenience’ during the departure.

Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit told Daily Times that his ministry had received a request from the Canadian government, however, it had not been decided yet if they would be allowed to use the airbases.

Under the set procedure, the Foreign Ministry has to consult the Defence Ministry before giving the final approval. The request, however, is still being considered by the FO.

To a similar question, Fareeha Iftikhar, from the Media and Advocacy Office of the Canadian High Commission, said Canada would end its military mission in Afghanistan in July 2011 and complete the withdrawal of its forces by December.

“We are currently planning to end the mission in Afghanistan but it is too early to provide any details at this time,” she said.

Around 2,800 Canadian Forces personnel are currently deployed in Afghanistan as part of the ISAF forces.

Pakistan is considered as a direct route to Afghanistan, hence it is believed that the countries wishing to leave NATO forces in Afghanistan would prefer Pakistani airbases due to its strategic importance.

On April 11, a day before the two-day Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, US President Barack Obama met his Kazakh counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev and their deliberations resulted in the US obtaining the right to fly troops and military equipment over (and later directly into) Kazakhstan for the escalating war in Afghanistan.

Sanctions Are Utterly Futile

leave a comment »

by Prof. Louis Rene Beres

Towards US Nuclear Conference Monday: Beres says sanctions against Iran will never work. A dispassionate, sobering analysis of the nuclear threat and the costs and benefits of how Israel might deal with it.

In the matter of Iranian nuclearization, U.S. President Barack Obama still doesn’t get it. Economic sanctions will never work. In Tehran’s national decision-making circles, absolutely nothing can compare to the immense power and status that would presumably come with membership in the Nuclear Club. Indeed, if President Ahmadinejad and his clerical masters truly believe in the Shiite apocalypse, an inevitable final battle against “unbelievers,” they would likely be willing to accept even corollary military sanctions.

“Absolutely nothing can compare to the immense power and status that would presumably come with membership in the Nuclear Club.”

From the standpoint of the United States, a nuclear Iran would pose an unprecedented risk of mass-destruction terrorism. For much smaller Israel, of course, the security risk would be existential.

Legal issues are linked here to various strategic considerations. Supported by international law, specifically by the incontestable right of anticipatory self-defense, Prime Minister Netanyahu understands that any preemptive destruction of Iran’s nuclear infrastructures would involve enormous operational and political difficulties. True, Israel has deployed elements of the “Arrow” system of ballistic missile defense, but even the Arrow could not achieve a sufficiently high probability of intercept to protect civilian populations. Further, now that Mr. Obama has backed away from America’s previously-planned missile shield deployment in Poland and the Czech Republic, Israel has no good reason to place its security hopes in any combined systems of active defense.

Even a single incoming nuclear missile that would manage to penetrate Arrow defenses could kill very large numbers of Israelis. While Obama and the “international community” still fiddles, Iran is plainly augmenting its incendiary intent toward Israel with a corresponding military capacity.

Left to violate non-proliferation treaty (NPT) rules with impunity, Iran’s leaders might ultimately be undeterred by any threats of an Israeli and/or American retaliation. Such a possible failure of nuclear deterrence could be the result of a presumed lack of threat credibility, or even of a genuine Iranian disregard for expected harms. In the worst-case scenario, Iran, animated by certain Shiite visions of inevitable conflict, could become the individual suicide bomber writ large. Such a dire prospect is improbable, but it is not unimaginable.

Iran’s illegal nuclearization has already started a perilous domino effect, especially among certain Sunni Arab states in the region. Not long ago, both Saudi Arabia and Egypt revealed possible plans to develop their own respective nuclear capabilities. But strategic stability in a proliferating Middle East could never resemble US-USSR deterrence during the Cold War. Here, the critical assumption of rationality, which always makes national survival the very highest decisional preference, simply might not hold.

If, somehow, Iran does become fully nuclear, Israel will have to promptly reassess its core policy of nuclear ambiguity, and also certain related questions of targeting. These urgent issues were discussed candidly in my own “Project Daniel” final report, first delivered by hand to then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on January 16, 2003.

Israel’s security from mass-destruction attacks will depend in part upon its intended targets in Iran, and on the precise extent to which these targets have been expressly identified. For Israel’s survival, it is not enough to merely have The Bomb. Rather, the adequacy of Israel’s nuclear deterrence and preemption policies will depend
largely upon (1) the presumed destructiveness of these nuclear weapons; and, (2) on where these weapons are thought to be targeted.

“For much smaller Israel, of course, the security risk would be existential. “

Mr. Obama’s “Road Map” notwithstanding, a nuclear war in the Middle East is not out of the question. Soon, Israel will need to choose prudently between “assured destruction” strategies, and “nuclear war-fighting” strategies. Assured destruction strategies are sometimes called “counter-value” strategies or “mutual assured destruction” (MAD). Drawn from the Cold War, these are strategies of deterrence in which a country primarily targets its strategic weapons on the other side’s civilian populations, and/or on its supporting civilian infrastructures.

Nuclear war-fighting measures, on the other hand, are called “counterforce” strategies. These are systems of deterrence wherein a country primarily targets its strategic nuclear weapons on the other side’s major weapon systems, and on that state’s supporting military assets.

There are distinctly serious survival consequences for choosing one strategy over the other. Israel could also opt for some sort of “mixed” strategy. Still, for Israel, any policy that might encourage nuclear war fighting should be rejected. This advice was an integral part of the once-confidential Project Daniel final report.

In choosing between the two basic strategic alternatives, Israel should always opt for nuclear deterrence based upon assured destruction. This seemingly insensitive recommendation might elicit opposition amid certain publics, but it is, in fact, more humane. A counterforce targeting doctrine would be less persuasive as a nuclear
deterrent, especially to states whose leaders could willingly sacrifice entire armies as “martyrs.”

If Israel were to opt for nuclear deterrence based upon counterforce capabilities, its enemies could also feel especially threatened. This condition could then enlarge the prospect of a nuclear aggression against Israel, and of a follow-on nuclear exchange.

Israel’s decisions on counter-value versus counterforce doctrines will depend, in part, on prior investigations of enemy country inclinations to strike first; and on enemy country inclinations to strike all-at-once, or in stages. Should Israeli strategic planners assume that an enemy state in process of “going nuclear” is apt to strike first, and to strike with all of its nuclear weapons right away, Israeli counterforce-targeted warheads – used in retaliation – would hit only empty launchers. In such circumstances, Israel’s only plausible application of counterforce doctrine would be to strike first itself, an option that Israel clearly and completely rejects. From the standpoint of intra-war deterrence, a counter-value strategy would prove vastly more appropriate to a fast peace.

Should Israeli planners assume that an enemy country “going nuclear” is apt to strike first, and to strike in a limited fashion, holding some measure of nuclear firepower in reserve, Israeli counterforce-targeted warheads could have some damage-limiting benefits. Here, counterforce operations could appear to serve both an Israeli non-nuclear preemption, or, should Israel decide not to preempt, an Israeli retaliatory strike. Nonetheless, the benefits to Israel of maintaining any counterforce targeting options are generally outweighed by the reasonably expected costs.

To protect itself against a relentlessly nuclearizing Iran, Israel’s best course may still be to seize the conventional preemption option as soon as possible. (After all, a fully nuclear Iran that would actually welcome apocalyptic endings could bring incomparably higher costs to Israel.) Together with such a permissible option, Israel would have to reject any hint of a counterforce targeting doctrine. But if, as now seems clear, Iran is allowed to continue with its illegal nuclear weapons development, Mr. Netanyahu’s correct response should be to quickly end Israel’s
No country can be required to participate in its own annihilation.
historic policy of nuclear ambiguity.

Such a doctrinal termination could permit Israel to enhance its nuclear deterrence posture, but only in regard to a fully rational Iranian adversary. If, after all, Iran’s leaders were to resemble the suicide bomber in macrocosm, they might not be deterred by any expected level of Israeli retaliation.

No country can be required to participate in its own annihilation. Without a prompt and major change in President Obama’s persistently naive attitude toward Iran, a law-enforcing expression of anticipatory self-defense may still offer Israel its only remaining survival option. This will sound unconvincing to many, but rational decision-making – in all fields of human endeavor – is based upon informed comparisons of expected costs and expected benefits.

Does President Obama really believe that both we and the Israelis can somehow live with a nuclear Iran? If he does, he should be reminded that a nuclear balance-of-terror in the Middle East could never replicate the earlier stability of U.S.-Soviet mutual deterrence.

This would not be your father’s Cold War.

Curing Afghanistan

leave a comment »

BY LT. GEN. WILLIAM B. CALDWELL IV, CAPT. MARK R. HAGEROTT

Two officers on the battlefield offer a new metaphor for the understanding conflict in the region — and how to end it.

The battle for Marja in southern Afghanistan and the coming campaign in Kandahar are important, but victory on these battlefields will not win the war, though they will help set the conditions for success. It will take a comprehensive, holistic effort to bring stability to Afghanistan.

Drawing on our experience as institution builders, and after spending six months on the ground in Afghanistan, we would like to offer a different way to think about diagnosing this country’s ills — and finding the appropriate cures. In the course of our duties, we have helped build the Afghan army, police, air corps, educational institutions, military hospitals, logistics, and the bureaucracies of defense and interior. Rather than describing Afghanistan with the language of war and battles, we have come to think of the country as an ailing patient — in many ways analogous to a weakened person under attack by an aggressive infection.

To extend this analogy further, to rebuild the country’s long-term health, Afghan and coalition leaders must address the ailment at three levels: curing the body, mind, and spirit of the nation. This means rebuilding the body of physical infrastructure and physical security; restoring the mind of governmental and educational institutions; and reinvigorating the spirit of civil leadership and traditional, tolerant Islam.

Antibiotics

This diagnosis of Afghanistan’s illnesses came too late, allowing the infection that has debilitated it — i.e., insurgent forces and the Taliban — to grow in strength. As a result, a low-level antibiotic is now insufficient to the task of restoring health. For several years, coalition and Afghan senior leaders did not fully appreciate the potential lethality of the Taliban’s infectious insurgency.

The 30,000 additional troops approved by U.S. President Barack Obama in December 2009 can be viewed as a late but powerful and much-needed dose of antibiotics. The surge was designed to shock and stunt the insurgency, thereby gaining time and space to allow the country’s indigenous immune system to be restored.

NATO’s combat presence in Afghanistan is considerable. At its peak, combat troops will number nearly 130,000. NATO countries provide the conventional combat troops distributed across the country by region, with especially heavy concentrations in the south, where the Taliban infection is particularly virulent. These troops are augmented by special operations forces and complete coalition air dominance through both manned and unmanned armed platforms.

To be sure, similar to a powerful antibiotic, the use of large numbers of combat troops brings with it side effects that can cause discomfort and pain to the body politic of Afghanistan. The effects range from disruption of civilian day-to-day life to, regrettably, sometimes civilian casualties. Senior NATO commanders seek to minimize civilian casualties and thus apply combat power with restraint and, to the extent possible, surgical precision.

This surge of combat power, along with the Marja and Kandahar offensives, will suppress the Taliban infection in the near term, but is only a temporary reprieve. The current high level of U.S. and NATO combat power cannot be maintained forever. Therefore, without a rejuvenated immune system, the infection will come back.

Immune System

The Afghan equivalent of the body’s immune system is the collective security forces: the police, the military, and the security bureaucracy. But the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) are underdeveloped and need time and space to develop to a point where they can effectively shoulder the responsibility of suppressing nascent infections that threaten the country’s health.

Some have asked: How could the ANSF still require growth and development almost nine years after international forces entered the country? Like a doctor who fails to correctly diagnose an illness, so did security experts fail to appreciate the danger of the Taliban. Moreover, the coalition did not fully appreciate the magnitude of the task entailed in building an indigenous immune system comprised of a large and robust army and police. NATO officials now recognize the size of the task, and the immunity-building effort has, accordingly, expanded dramatically.

In November 2009, the NATO alliance stood up a dedicated training command with the mission of building the ANSF. NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan is responsible for the generation, development, and professionalization of the Afghan army, police, army air corps, and all the various supporting structures, from back-office support systems to military schools. The financial resources devoted to this training mission are among the largest of its kind in the world.

But it isn’t just dollars flowing into the country: Trainers, instructors, advisors, engineers, and logisticians are flowing in rapidly and will peak at several thousand. Training facilities and infrastructure include basic-training camps in every regional command, logistical infrastructure, new military hospitals and clinics, and a national military academy modeled after U.S. military academies. The output of these camps and schools is rapidly climbing, producing almost 10,000 police and soldiers per month.

Spirit of Service

Although we have made massive investments in the surge and are moving aggressively to restore Afghan immunity, efforts to restore general health are lagging. The rebuilding of critical infrastructure, the restoration of good governance, and expanded education will be essential to restoring the body and mind.

Restoring the spirit of Afghanistan is perhaps the most difficult and complex. The challenges are twofold: the restoration of Afghanistan’s tradition of tolerant Islam and the restoration of a sense of service to nation and tribe that predated the rise of warlordism and its associated corruption.

Fortunately, Afghan leaders today realize that a spirit of national service was lost for a generation and are taking steps to fill the void. At a conference at Camp Eggers in Kabul, sponsored by NATO Training Mission in early 2010, we listened as senior Afghan leaders vigorously debated how to restore a sense of service and virtuous leadership. For all the recent turmoil in the U.S. relationship with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, the Kabul government has kept its word: establishing new officer training schools for police; implementing a lottery system for officer assignments (as a counter to favoritism and nepotism); and developing new laws (now awaiting final approval by the Afghan parliament and president), which seem likely to pass, that together will strengthen the professionalism of the security forces. At the National Military Academy of Afghanistan, one can already see the new spirit of national service and selfless leadership becoming manifest in young men and women.

The road to a healthy body politic is not easy, but the first step is appreciating what a lasting cure will require.