In July, the U.S. intelligence community determined that Al-Qaeda represents the main terrorist threat to the United States. Yet instead of focusing on the threat posed by Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the President has focused on policing an Iraqi civil war started on false pretenses. The result has been a regenerated Al-Qaeda, a military stretched thin and a less secure America. It’s time to refocus on the main threat of international terrorism.
Afghanistan at risk of becoming a failed state and the Taliban is on the rise:
New Study Warns Afghanistan Risks Sliding Into a Failed State and Becoming a “Forgotten War.” “Afghanistan risks sliding into a failed state and becoming the "forgotten war" because of deteriorating international support and a growing violent insurgency, according to an independent study. The assessment, co-chaired by retired Marine Corps Gen. James Jones and former U.N. Ambassador Thomas Pickering, serves as a warning to the Bush administration at a time military and congressional officials are debating how best to juggle stretched warfighting resources.” [Associated Press, 1/30/08]
- Study Found Afghanistan War Had Too Few Troops, Too Little Economic Aid and Recommended Management of the War Be De-Coupled From Management of Iraq War. “A major issue has been trying to win the war with ‘too few military forces and insufficient economic aid,’ the study adds. Among the group’s nearly three dozen recommendations: increase NATO force levels and military equipment sent to Afghanistan, decouple U.S. management of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, establish a special envoy to coordinate all U.S. policy on Afghanistan, and champion a unified strategy among partner nations to stabilize the country in five years.” [Associated Press, 1/30/08]
Taliban Is on the Rise in Afghanistan, Putting Rebuilding Efforts in Jeopardy. “Despite the presence of more than 50,000 U.S. and NATO troops throughout Afghanistan, the Taliban has taken back control of vast rural areas during the past year and now has a foothold just outside Kabul. The attack on the Serena Hotel has raised questions about whether any place in the country is safe from the fundamentalists and terrorists whom the war was originally intended to eradicate… Now, rebuilding efforts may be in jeopardy. Even before the attack, private investment in Afghanistan plummeted to $570 million last year from $1 billion in 2006 because of deteriorating security, the Afghan Investment Support Agency reported Monday. At the heart of the problem is the dramatic turnaround staged by the Taliban, which had been pushed deep into the mountains in the years immediately following the U.S.-led invasion in 2001.” [USA Today, 1/30/08]
- 2007 Was Afghanistan’s Most Violent Year Since 2001. “Last year was Afghanistan’s bloodiest since the year of the invasion: More than 6,500 people — mostly insurgents — died in 2007, according to a count by the Associated Press. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said last month that insurgent attacks rose again last year.” [USA Today, 1/30/08]
Al-Qaeda senior leadership has been at large for 2332 days:
Osama Bin Laden and His Top Lieutenant Ayman Al-Zawahiri Have Been At Large for 2332 Days Since September 11, 2001.
- President Musharraf Said Pakistani Forces Were Not Searching for Osama Bin Laden. “Pervez Musharraf says he still gets the question a lot: When will Osama bin Laden and his top deputy be caught? The Pakistani president insists it’s more important for his 100,000 troops on the Afghan border to root out the Taliban than search for al-Qaeda leaders. That bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahri are still at large ‘doesn’t mean much,’ the former general said Tuesday on the second day of a swing through Europe… ‘The 100,000 troops that we are using … are not going around trying to locate Osama bin Laden and Zawahri, frankly,’ Musharraf told a conference at the French Institute for International Relations. ‘They are operating against terrorists, and in the process, if we get them, we will deal with them certainly.’” [Associated Press, 1/22/08]
Meanwhile, President Bush continues to try to keep U.S. troops in Iraq indefinitely:
President Bush Has Is Signaling that There Will Be No Further Troop Withdrawals from Iraq, – U.S. Could Still Have More Than 130,000 Troops in Iraq When He Leaves Office. “Four months after announcing troop reductions in Iraq, President Bush is now sending signals that the cuts may not continue past this summer, a development likely to infuriate Democrats and renew concerns among military planners about strains on the force. Mr. Bush has made no decisions on troop reductions to follow those he announced last September. But White House officials said Mr. Bush had been taking the opportunity, as he did in Monday’s State of the Union address, to prepare Americans for the possibility that, when he leaves office a year from now, the military presence in Iraq will be just as large as it was a year ago, or even slightly larger.” [New York Times, 1/30/08]
- President Bush Is Trying to Tamp Down Criticism from His Own Joint Chiefs of Staff that Pouring Troops Into Iraq Has Risked the Health of the Overall Army. “The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Mr. Bush wanted to tamp down criticism that a large, sustained presence in Iraq would harm the overall health of the military — a view held not only by Democrats, but by some members of his own Joint Chiefs of Staff… ‘We’re concerned about the health of the force as well, but the most important thing is that they succeed in Iraq,’ said one senior White House official, adding, ‘If the commanders on the ground believe we need to maintain the troop numbers at the current level to maintain security for a little while longer, then that’s what the president will do.’” [New York Times, 1/30/08]
President Bush Has Used a Signing Statement to Circumvent a Provision of the DOD Authorization Bill Barring Permanent Bases in Iraq. “This week’s statement was attached to the military budget bill, which covers everything except the direct cost of the war. The bill included four important provisions that Mr. Bush decided he will enforce only if he wants to… It’s glaringly obvious why Mr. Bush rejected the fourth provision, which states that none of the money authorized for military purposes may be used to establish permanent military bases in Iraq.” [New York Times, Editorial, 1/30/08]
U.S. Allies Have Provided 16 Percent of the Aid They Promised for Iraq Reconstruction. “Nearly five years after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, allied countries have paid 16% of what they pledged to help rebuild the war-torn country, according to a report scheduled for release today. Foreign countries have spent about $2.5 billion of the more than $15.8 billion they pledged during and after an October 2003 conference in Madrid, according to a new report by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. The biggest shortfalls in pledges by 41 donor countries are from Iraq’s oil-rich neighbors and U.S. allies: Saudi Arabia spent $17.4% and Kuwait 27% of the $500 million each had pledged more than four years ago, according to a separate report released last month by Congress’ Government Accountability Office.” [USA Today, 1/30/08]