Small Wars Journal

Monday News Quicklook

Karzai Agrees with US Strategy, But Says No al-Qaida Bases in Afghanistan - Voice of America. Afghan President Hamid Karzai says he agrees with almost all elements of US President Barack Obama's strategy for Afghanistan, but the Afghan leader does not believe al-Qaida has a presence in his country. Mr. Karzai made the comments in an interview broadcast Sunday on CNN, on Fareed Zakaria's GPS program. Mr. Obama's plan involves deploying thousands of additional troops to Afghanistan, and it makes defeating al-Qaida and other terrorist groups the top priority.

Extremist Tide Rises in Pakistan - Pamela Constable, Washington Post. A potentially troubling era dawned Sunday in Pakistan's Swat Valley, where a top Islamist militant leader, emboldened by a peace agreement with the federal government, laid out an ambitious plan to bring a "complete Islamic system" to the surrounding northwest region and the entire country.

A Blast, an Ambush and a Sprint Out of a Taliban Kill Zone - C. J. Chivers, New York Times. The American patrol had left Korangal Outpost, the base for Company B of the First Battalion, 26th Infantry, on Wednesday, roughly an hour before the ambush. Its mission had been to enter the village of Laneyal and meet with local elders.

Missiles Demolish Taliban Compound - Nahal Toosi, Associated Press. Suspected US missiles leveled a Taliban compound in northwest Pakistan on Sunday, officials said, killing three people despite militants' threats of a wave of suicide bombings if the strikes don't end. Meanwhile, a hard-line cleric who mediated a deal that imposes Islamic law in a northwest valley in exchange for peace with the Taliban warned that the Pakistani government must enforce the law, not simply make announcements about it.

Karzai Asks NATO to Explain Deaths - Jason Straziuso, Associated Press. The top US general in Afghanistan said Sunday there wasn't enough money in the world to replace the loss of an Afghan civilian, in comments that followed repeated calls by Afghan President Hamid Karzai for explanations of civilian deaths.

Raids Crack Afghan Opium Trade - Sara Carter, Washington Times. US-Afghan operations have led to the arrests of seven of Afghanistan's most wanted drug lords and revealed the growing involvement of the Taliban in turning opium into heroin and morphine, Pentagon and Drug Enforcement Administration officials said.

Stability in Afghanistan Must Be No. 1 Goal - Trudy Rubin, Philadelphia Inquirer opinion. Of all the pressing foreign-policy items on President Obama's plate, bar none, AfPak is the most troubling. The nightmare scenario used by the Bush administration to justify the Iraq war - the possibility that terrorists might obtain nukes - was applied to the wrong country. Iraq had no nukes and no al-Qaeda before we invaded, but Pakistan has both.

Maliki Critic Wins Iraqi Speaker Role - Charles Levinson, Wall Street Journal. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's political opponents scored a victory Sunday, electing a critic of Mr. Maliki's as speaker of parliament. Mr. Maliki emerged from local elections earlier this year claiming a popular mandate and broad support among Iraqis of different sects. But the election of Eyad al-Samarrai, head of the Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party, could provide a platform in parliament for Maliki critics to challenge the prime minister.

Iraq's Wobbles - Washington Post editorial. It's been only seven weeks since President Obama outlined a strategy for Iraq aimed at withdrawing most U.S. troops by the end of next summer. But already there is cause for concern. During the past month security around the country has been slipping: At least 37 people have been killed in four major attacks on security forces in the past week alone, and there have been multiple car bombings in Baghdad and other cities. Those strikes have been claimed by al-Qaeda, which appears to be attempting a comeback. But there have also been new bursts of sectarian violence among Sunni and Shiite extremists.

NATO Stops Attack by Somali Pirates - Matthew Clark, Christian Science Monitor. A Canadian warship and NATO helicopters foiled a pirate attack on a Norwegian tanker on Sunday, says the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. American forces also pursued pirates who fired rocket-propelled grenades at the 80,000-tonne MV Front Ardenne, reports BBC.

US Projects Openness at Summit - Laura Meckler, Wall Street Journal. President Barack Obama came to the Summit of the Americas determined to reach out to his Latin American neighbors, and he departed with two of the most antagonistic having reached back.

Obama Defends Greeting Hugo Chavez - Peter Nicholas, Los Angeles Times. Rebuffing criticism of the warm greetings he exchanged with Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, President Obama said Sunday that the United States, with its overwhelming military superiority and need to improve its global image, could afford to extend such diplomatic "courtesy."

Police Swoop on Leader of Mexican Drug Cartel La Familia - Daily Telegraph. Rafael Cedeno Gonzalez, the alleged cartel head in Lazaro Cardenas, Michoacan - where the gang is largely based - and in the southwest state of Guerrero, was arrested on Saturday, federal police chief Rodrigo Esparza said. Gonzalez is presumed to report directly to the main "La Familia" head Nazario Moreno Gonzalez, who is one of the most wanted drug lords in Mexico; the government has offered 30 million pesos bounty for his capture.

Support Mexico - Rich Lowry, National Review opinion. President Barack Obama went to Mexico and, unlike many of his presidential predecessors, didn't stay in a remote resort, but in the midst of Mexico City, the sprawling metropolis of 20 million. The visit - Obama's first stop in Latin America - and the locale - the capital where an American president hadn't visited in 12 years - sent the signal that the United States is committed to a country that is a punching bag in American domestic politics, but an indispensable ally in a region buffeted by revolutionary left-wing politics.

US, Netherlands to Boycott UN Racism Conference - Associated Press. The Obama administration will boycott "with regret" a UN conference on racism next week over objectionable language in the meeting's final document that could single out Israel for criticism and restrict free speech, the State Department said Saturday.

Britain Should Boycott This UN Charade - Rosemary Righter, The Times opinion. A UN conference "against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance" ought to be unexceptionable. No one can contend that prejudice and racial hatred are yesterday's problems. Yet the persistence of intolerance is precisely what makes the decision by America, Canada, Australia, Italy, the Netherlands and Israel to boycott the conference, which opens today in Geneva, a brave defence of principle; just as it makes Britain's resigned participation a supine exercise in hypocrisy.

Inter-Korean Talks to Start Tuesday - Kurt Achin, Voice of America. North and South Korea are planning to hold their first inter-governmental talks since the South's conservative president assumed office last year. The rare meeting comes as North Korea sharpens its menacing rhetoric and detains a South Korean businessman. North Korean officials have mostly refused to sit across a table from what they call South Korean "traitors" for more than a year. Now, says South Korean Unification Ministry Spokeswoman Lee Jong-joo, the South has accepted an offer from Pyongyang to talk.

Spinning a UN Failure - Wall Street Journal editorial. It's strange enough that the Obama Administration is hyping last week's toothless statement by the United Nations Security Council condemning North Korea's recent rocket launch. Even more amazing, it says the UN move is "legally binding" on member states.

Obama Adviser Defends Release of Secret Memo - Kara Rowland, Washington Times. Top White House officials denied Sunday that President Obama's release of top-secret memos hurt national security by giving terrorists details of US interrogation techniques - as charged by the former head of the CIA and four of his predecessors - saying the information was already public.

DHS Wants to Know What You're Thinking - Andrew C. McCarthy, National Review opinion. For eight years, we've been treated to hysterical rhetoric from Democrats, including Barack Obama, about the scourge of "domestic spying." Now that the Obama administration is openly calling for domestic spying - the real thing, not the smear used against President Bush - they're suddenly silent. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in coordination with the FBI, has issued an intelligence assessment on what it calls "Rightwing Extremism." It is appalling. The nakedly political document announces itself as a "federal effort to influence domestic public opinion." It proceeds, in what it acknowledges is the absence of any "specific information that domestic rightwing terrorists are currently planning acts of violence," to speculate that "rightwing" political views might "drive" such violence - violence, it further surmises, that might be abetted by military veterans returning home after putting their lives on the line in Iraq and Afghanistan. And for good measure, in violation of both FBI guidelines and congressional statutes, the Obama administration promises scrutiny of ordinary Americans' political views, speech, and assembly.

(Right) Winging It at the DHS - Jonah Goldberg, National Review opinion. The Extremism and Radicalization Branch of the Homeland Environment Threat Analysis Division of the Department of Homeland Security issued a report last week. It's called "Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment." The problem with it is that it makes little effort to document or demonstrate its contention that "extremist" groups are resurgent, that they are right-wing, or that they may be formed from the ranks of "disgruntled military veterans." Worse, it's very sloppy about what qualifies someone as "extremist" in the first place. Basically, it's fancy bureaucratese for: We're guessing bad people will do bad things because the economy is bad and the president is black. But we have no real evidence.

ETA Military Chief Jurdan Martitegi Arrested in France - Graham Keeley, The Times. The military leader of ETA, the Basque separatist organisation, has been arrested - delivering another serious blow to a group that has been weakened by a series of recent setbacks.

'Thousands Flee' Sri Lanka Combat - BBC News. About 5,000 Sri Lankans have escaped from a Tamil Tiger-held area in the north of the country, the army says. The military said the people fled after the army broke through a fortification which had been blocking its advance into the Tigers' last stronghold.