Tags: Taliban

Romney Was Right to Oppose Negotiating with Child-Killers


The news out of Pakistan is horrifying: More than 126 dead, mostly children, in a Taliban attack on a school.

Back in 2012, the entire foreign-policy establishment, inside and outside the Obama administration, thought Mitt Romney was a fool for opposing negotiations with the Taliban. Who’s the fool now?

Who wanted the United States to sit down across a table and make concessions to a the kind of men who massacre children?

Back in 2008, as a presidential candidate, Obama denounced the Pakistani government for . . . negotiating with the Taliban.

We can’t coddle, as we did, a dictator, give him billions of dollars and then he’s making peace treaties with the Taliban and militants. What I’ve said is we’re going to encourage democracy in Pakistan, expand our nonmilitary aid to Pakistan so that they have more of a stake in working with us, but insisting that they go after these militants.

Glad to see the Bowe Bergdahl prisoner exchange deal helped open a dialogue and moderate the Taliban’s behavior.

If you can’t trust a face like this . . . er, never mind.

Tags: Mitt Romney , Barack Obama , Pakistan , Taliban

White House on Whether Bergdahl Was a Deserter: ‘A Lot of Ifs Attached’ to That Question


President Obama’s team doesn’t know if Bowe Bergdahl, the U.S. Army sergeant held captive in Afghanistan until his release was obtained this weekend through the release of five top Taliban leaders, is a deserter.

“You’re citing a circumstance with a lot of ifs attached to it,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said during Monday’s press briefing. A reporter had alluded to allegations that Bergdahl walked away from his post, and asked if national-security adviser Susan Rice “misspoke” when she said that Bergdahl had “served the United States with honor and distinction.” 

The Defense Department is still “evaluating all of the circumstances surrounding [Bergdahl's] initial detention and his captivity, and that process continues, obviously, directly with Sergeant Bergdahl now that he is in U.S. care,” Carney told reporters.

“The first and foremost thing that we have to recognize is that Sergeant Bergdahl was in captivity for five years, held against his will,” Carney said.

Soldiers who served with Bergdahl have told CNN’s Jake Tapper they’re angry about the prisoner exchange that secured his release.

“According to firsthand accounts from soldiers in his platoon, Bergdahl, while on guard duty, shed his weapons and walked off the observation post with nothing more than a compass, a knife, water, a digital camera and a diary,” Tapper wrote.

“At least six soldiers were killed in subsequent searches for Bergdahl,” Tapper reported, “and many soldiers in his platoon said attacks seemed to increase against the United States in Paktika province in the days and weeks following his disappearance.”

Tags: White House , Jay Carney , Department of Defense , Afghanistan , Taliban , Bowe Bergdahl

Christie Ahead, Just 58 Percent to 22 Percent


A new poll by Fairleigh Dickinson University finds New Jersey governor Chris Christie clinging to his narrow lead over his Democratic challenger, state senator Barbara Buono, 58 percent to 22 percent.

Among self-described Democrats, Buono leads . . . 40 percent to 36 percent.

Christie is winning among women, 54 percent to 24 percent.

The pollsters summarize:

Although a blue state, a solid majority of Democrats (55%) and independents (61%) approve of the job Christie is doing and even more Republicans (83%) give the governor high marks. Other groups who are not considered likely suspects among his supporters include women (62%), those from union households (52%), and non-whites (56%).

A majority of voters are also pleased with the direction the state is headed. Fifty-seven percent say it’s headed in the right direction and, with the exception of the usual partisan differences, perceptions are largely positive across relevant demographic categories.

With numbers like these, the big question is, just how much money does the Democratic Governors Association want to spend in New Jersey this year? Or more specifically, how much do they have to spend to avoid the appearance that they’re giving up on this race, even though they’re sooner or later going to have to admit that with numbers like these, Buono amounts to a sacrificial lamb?

Tags: Taliban , Chris Christie , DGA , New Jersey , Polling

Holding an Election During a ‘Global Intifada’


From the first Morning Jolt of the week . . . My understanding is that this will be coming through our new e-mail distribution system sometime between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. Eastern . . . Once again, under our new system, some e-mail programs may interpret it as spam (it’s being sent to a large number of recipients) so if you don’t find it by mid-morning, check your spam filters . . .

Holding an Election During a ‘Global Intifada’

David Ignatius is one of those columnists you need to read, because even if you don’t agree with his take on things, his sources seem to give him fascinating nuggets you don’t find anywhere else. The theme in his Sunday column is that the world has no idea what to expect from Obama’s foreign policy in a second term, and that’s just the way the president wants it.

Less than six weeks before the election, the Obama campaign’s theme song might as well be the old country-music favorite “Make the World Go Away.” This may be smart politics, but it’s not good governing: The way this campaign is going, the president will have a foreign affairs mandate for . . . nothing.

The “come back after Nov. 6” sign is most obvious with Iran. The other members of the “P5+1” negotiating group understand that the United States doesn’t want serious bargaining until after the election, lest Obama have to consider compromises that might make him look weak. So the talks with Iran that began last May dither along in technical discussions.

. . . The Obama arm’s-length approach is evident with Egypt and the other nations convulsed by the Arab uprising. The United States is launching an innovative economic-assistance program to help Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood government. But you don’t hear much about it this election season. Nor is there much public discussion of the covert U.S. effort to aid the Syrian rebels, or the war in Yemen, or the god-awful mess in Iraq.

There are two possible reasons for Obama’s vagueness in discussing these issues. The first is that Obama hasn’t thought that deeply about how he wants to respond to all of these simmering crises, and he figures he’ll cross that bridge when he comes to it. Alternatively, Obama knows darn well how he wants to handle these issues, and he knows they would be politically damaging — so he’s keeping them under wraps until he’s safely reelected. Neither option is particularly reassuring.

But here’s where Ignatius’ column gets really interesting:

I’m told that the talk in the Libyan underground is about a “global intifada,” like what the new al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has been preaching for the past five years. But ask U.S. officials about that subject, and you get a “no comment.”

To be blunt: The administration has a lot invested in the public impression that al-Qaeda was vanquished when Osama bin Laden was killed on May 2, 2011. Obama would lose some of that luster if the public examined whether al-Qaeda is adopting a new, Zawahiri-led strategy of interweaving its operations with the unrest sweeping the Arab world. But this discussion is needed, and a responsible president should lead it, even during a presidential campaign.

When you hear the phrase “global intifada,” you can respond one of two ways.

One: Eh, big deal, these jihadists are always big talkers making grandiose threats, this is more of the same.

Two: In the past month, at four separate U.S. embassies or consulates, the American flag has been torn down by angry mobs and the crowd has put up the black flag of Islam in its place: in Cairo, in Tunisia, in Yemen, and of course in the fatal attacks at our consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The same deal happened at the German embassy in Sudan. We’ve seen protests, often violent, outside U.S. embassies, consulates, and companies in the Philippines, India, Bangladesh, Thailand, Indonesia, Nigeria, Turkey, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Greece. In country after country, we’re evacuating our nonessential diplomatic staff and reinforcing security where we can. Wouldn’t the phrase “global intifada” be a pretty good term to describe what we’re seeing before our eyes?

And no, despite the fact that you’re hearing almost nothing in the U.S. mainstream media, the threat hasn’t gone away:

THE Philippines says it has moved to secure Western embassies in the country as it monitors potential threats to their citizens following a security alert raised last week.

On Friday, the US embassy warned that an unspecified threat against Americans in the capital Manila had been detected by “reliable security forces”.

Australia, Britain and Canada on Saturday joined the US in issuing a security alert, warning Westerners to be on guard amid fears they could get caught up in an attempted attack against Americans.

Philippines deputy presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte said the US embassy had asked Manila for additional security.

“As a matter of precautionary measures, we responded to their request to augment security,” Valte said on government radio on Sunday, adding that it had also “responded quickly” to improve security for the other missions.

Kirsten Powers in a Daily Beast piece that deserves a ton of attention this week:

Nothing about the constantly evolving tale the Obama administration has been weaving about the attacks in the Middle East makes sense, unless it is seen as a deliberate attempt to mislead Americans into believing al Qaeda has been decimated, as President Obama has been know to assert. After dancing on Osama bin Laden’s grave for a week in Charlotte, the administration was faced with the reality that the war on terror is still quite on.

Tags: Barack Obama , John Sununu , Taliban

Fumbling Away Captured Taliban?


So, if killing Osama bin Laden is a form of spiking the football, would these be fumbles?

The United States has for several years been secretly releasing high-level detainees from a military prison in Afghanistan as part of negotiations with insurgent groups, a bold effort to quell violence but one that U.S. officials acknowledge poses substantial risks.

But the releases are an inherent gamble: The freed detainees are often notorious fighters who would not be released under the traditional legal system for military prisoners in Afghanistan. They must promise to give up violence — and U.S. officials warn them that if they are caught attacking American troops, they will be detained once again.

There are no absolute guarantees, however, and officials would not say whether those who have been released under the program have later returned to attack U.S. and Afghan forces once again.

If they’re anything like the released Guantanamo Bay detainees

…The Pentagon said on Tuesday that 61 former detainees from its military prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, appear to have returned to terrorism since their release from custody.

I’m glad President Obama has proven much more ruthless than his 2008 campaign rhetoric suggested when it came to drone attacks. But in Afghanistan, the phrase “trust the Taliban” comes up disturbingly often in our policy…

Tags: Afghanistan , Taliban

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