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Panetta says Israel 'could strike' Iran in spring

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Panetta says Israel 'could strike' Iran in spring

(AFP) – 2 hours ago

BRUSSELS — US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta believes there is a "strong likelihood" that Israel will strike Iran's nuclear installations this spring, the Washington Post said Thursday in an editorial.

When asked about the opinion piece by reporters travelling with him to a NATO meeting in Brussels, Panetta brushed it aside.

"I'm not going to comment on that. David Ignatius can write what he will but with regards with what I think and what I view, I consider that to be an area that belongs to me and nobody else," he said.

"Israel indicated they're considering this (a strike), we've indicated our concerns," he added.

The Post columnist said Panetta "believes there is a strong likelihood that Israel will strike Iran in April, May or June before Iran enters what Israelis described as a 'zone of immunity' to commence building a nuclear bomb."

President Barack Obama and Panetta are "said to have cautioned the Israelis that the United States opposes an attack, believing that it would derail an increasingly successful international economic sanctions program and other non-military efforts to stop Iran from crossing the threshold," he said.

"But the White House hasn?t yet decided precisely how the United States would respond if the Israelis do attack."

Panetta said Sunday in an interview with CBS that Iran needed "about a year" to produce enough enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon, and one or two more years to "put it on a deliverable vehicle."

Iran insists its nuclear project is peaceful and has threatened retaliation over the fresh sanctions, including possibly disrupting shipping through the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

Israeli media reported in October last year that the option of pre-emptive air strikes on Iran was opposed by the country's intelligence services but favored by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ehud Barak.

Israeli television said Mossad chief Tamir Pardo raised the possibility of a unilateral strike on Iran during a visit last week to Washington.

 

They say this will have consequences for the U.S. The scenario they put forward is Iran could send missiles to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, etc and disrupt the flow of oil and natural gas. Plus we could get dragged into the fray as a supporter of Israel.

 

The frightening thing they said was Iranian "sleeper cells" already in the U.S. that will cause mayhem.

 

WT-F ?

 

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It is coming to a head and very soon. It will be bad but likely won't last too long. Israel cannot allow them to get the bomb. Their sect of Islam is maniacle. They believe in mutual annihilation. That will bring their lost Imam back to life. It is not a very common sect in Iran but is in power now. Even the evil Khomeni thought this group were dangerous nuts. They are what the diverse Iranians have now. We are headed for a hell of a year. It most likely will take place befoire the election.

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Eurasia Group

 

"David F. Gordon. Head of Research; Director, Global Macro Analysis. David F. Gordon is Eurasia Group's head of research and director of global macro analysis.

 

He is a member of the firm's executive committee, and is based in Washington, DC. Before joining Eurasia Group, David spent more than ten years working at the highest levels of US foreign and national security policy processes. From June 2007 to January 2009, David served as the director of policy planning under Secretary of State Condoleezza ..."

 

 

 

~ three weeks ago Gordon said:

 

1. For now, Israel is waiting for Iran's reaction to the bite of the sanctions imposed by the U.S.and the EU.

 

2. Israel may attack Iran late in 2012.

 

 

 

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Whopper Bubba;

 

Their sect of Islam is maniacle. They believe in mutual annihilation. That will bring their lost Imam back to life. It is not a very common sect in Iran but is in power now. Even the evil Khomeni thought this group were dangerous nuts. They are what the diverse Iranians have now.

 

That is exactly what Fared Zacharia said on a segment today. I find this Chess Game (Zbigniew Brzezinski) he wrote about fascinating but you're right, it is going to be scary.

 

 

Hawker;

 

And Obama wants to draw down US troop strength?

 

Well the military wants a leaner profile but they'll have advisors and troops at a low level (15,000 I believe). They understand we can't sustain the present troop levels for

another 10 - 20 years @ 100 Billion a year, so they know what the future of war looks like. Drones, naval presence, special ops, troops stationed in Kuwait.

 

 

The world knows the Taliban will be a presence so they might as well deal with them and the Afghan government. The Taliban are even worried about fringe groups

they don't want entering the fray, so they will become the "Hamas" of the country. It's an economic necessity for us to strengthen our homeland if there are sleeper cells here,

better to have the troops home to fight them.

 

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A fight this big, we can't stay out of it.

I hope President Obama is as smart as some folks keep saying he is, and he is out foxing the Iranians somehow.

But, I doubt it.

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Well the military wants a leaner profile but they'll have advisors and troops at a low level (15,000 I believe). They understand we can't sustain the present troop levels for

another 10 - 20 years @ 100 Billion a year, so they know what the future of war looks like. Drones, naval presence, special ops, troops stationed in Kuwait.

 

Wrong. Obama wants to draw down the military. The military doesn't want the reduction. Obama is catering to his leftist wing of the democratic party in an election year.

 

Now, Obama is sending Marines into Asskrackastan to 'talk' to the Taliban. That should work out well. See Huffpo for the story.

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Now, Obama is sending Marines into Asskrackastan to 'talk' to the Taliban. That should work out well. See Huffpo for the story.

 

If we stay there with a large force we'll be spending $100 Billion a year for what ? The next ten - twenty years hoping they form a dem government

that works ? We can't sustain that. The military can't afford that, even though they'd love to for their profiteers.

We cannot stay at war and have an economic recovery. It's time to take the next step in human intelligence and realize we can't dominate the world

anymore, we have to live in it, not above it.

 

 

 

Roundup: U.S. to end Afghan combat mission by 2013

Editor's Note: The following is reprinted with the permission of the Council on Foreign Relations.

U.S. defense secretary Leon E. Panetta said U.S. forces would end their combat mission in Afghanistan by mid-2013, taking on an "advise and assist" role (NYT) to Afghan security forces. All U.S. troops are expected to be withdrawn from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. Panetta made the announcement en route to Brussels for a NATO meeting focusing on the future of Afghanistan. The decision comes on the heels of a leaked NATO report that says the Taliban, allegedly backed by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency, remains a significant obstacle to peace in Afghanistan.

To receive daily updates in your inbox sign up for CFR.org's Daily News Brief.

Analysis

"For the United States, the war is coming to an end. Its critical goals have been achieved. Osama bin Laden is dead. Al-Qaeda there is virtually dead. There are no vital interests to justify further great sacrifices. And now it's time to act upon this reality and bring the heroes home, writes CFR's Leslie H. Gelb at the Daily Beast.

"The U.S. report belies the notion that the policy of assassinating mid-level Taliban commanders (night raids are often little more than death squads) is having any lasting effect on an organization which retains the ability to selectively moderate its violence in order to encourage NATO forces to leave faster," says this Guardian editorial.

"The essential goal now–as 11 years ago–is to prevent Afghanistan becoming a base for international terrorism. Worryingly, however, NATO's common purpose is disintegrating. America announced yesterday that it would end combat operations in the middle of next year, well ahead of the December 2014 deadline for withdrawal agreed by NATO," says this Telegraph editorial.

 

 

Four Keys to Success in Afghanistan

The war in Afghanistan is not going well; almost all trends are

moving in the wrong direction. But we still have time to focus, improve our

strategy, calibrate our means. It will help immeasurably if we keep in mind

the basic objective of U.S. policy: "Our primary goal is to prevent

Afghanistan from being used as a base for terrorists and extremists to

attack the United States and its allies," Defense Secretary Robert Gates

said last week. That is an admirably clear statement.

 

It is not that we don't have other goals -- education, female literacy,

centralized control of government services, drug eradication, liberal

democracy. But Afghanistan is one of the world's poorest and most war-torn

countries. At best, many of these objectives will be realized partially,

over very long periods, and they should not be measured as part of military

campaigns or political cycles. They are also goals not best achieved by

military force. The U.S. Army is being asked to do enough in Afghanistan.

Helping it to stay focused on a core mission is neither cramped nor

defeatist but realistic. Such a plan for success would have four steps,

each more complicated than the last.

 

Do counterinsurgency right. Despite David Petraeus's demonstrable

success in Iraq, U.S. forces in Afghanistan have, to this point, largely

relied on more old-fashioned tactics -- raids, search-and-destroy missions,

air attacks. The needed number of additional U.S. troops is not large.

Afghanistan is predominantly rural, with a limited number of large

population centers and roads requiring protection. And Gen. David

McKiernan, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, has already begun to focus on

this approach. Between the addition of two to four U.S. brigades and a

ramp-up of the Afghan army, there should be enough troops to execute a

modified version of the new counterinsurgency strategy.

 

Make the Afghan government credible. The central government is widely

seen as weak, dysfunctional and utterly corrupt. Unfortunately, many of its

most corrupt elements are allies of the West and have thus gained a kind of

immunity.

 

The most immediate way to enhance the legitimacy of the Afghan

government would be to ensure that presidential and local elections take

place this year without disruption and that viable alternative candidates

are free to campaign. But elections are only one form of political

legitimacy. There should be a much broader effort to reach out to tribal

leaders, hold local councils and build a more diverse base of support. The

goal should not be a strong central government -- Afghanistan is by nature

decentralized -- but a legitimate government with credibility and allies

throughout the country.

 

Talk to the Taliban. The United States is properly and unalterably

opposed to al-Qaeda. We have significant differences with the Taliban on

many issues -- democracy and the treatment of women being the most serious.

But we do not wage war on other Islamist groups with which we similarly

disagree (the Saudi monarchy, for example). Were elements of the Taliban to

abandon al-Qaeda, we would not have a pressing national security interest

in waging war against them.

 

In fact, there is a powerful military advantage to moving in this

direction. Al-Qaeda is a stateless organization that controls no territory

of its own; it can survive and thrive only with a host community. Our

objective should be to cut off al-Qaeda from its allies in Afghanistan and

Pakistan. Deprived of local support, al-Qaeda would be a much diminished

threat. It is true, of course, that some elements of the Taliban might be

closely wedded to al-Qaeda. But others are not.

 

Although the United States is in its seventh year of war in

Afghanistan, not one Afghan was involved at any significant level in the

Sept.11 attacks. All the plots that have been traced back to the region

lead not to Afghanistan but Pakistan.

 

Solve Pakistan. When the United States invaded Afghanistan, it did not

defeat al-Qaeda and its supporters among the Taliban. They simply fled to

Pakistan, their original home. Pakistan has long viewed the various Islamic

militias it created and helped fund -- including the Taliban -- as useful

weapons in its arsenal, low-cost ways to keep its historic foes, India and

Afghanistan, off balance. For Islamabad to genuinely renounce these groups

would require a fundamental strategic rethinking within the Pakistani

military.

 

The civilian government in Pakistan, although weak and ineffective, is

allied with the international community on these issues. It, too, wants a

Pakistani military that knows its boundaries, does not run militant groups

and conceives of the country's national interests in less-confrontational

terms. I don't want to make this sound easy. It won't be. Of all the tasks

facing Petraeus, as head of U.S. Central Command, and newly appointed U.S.

special envoy Richard Holbrooke, this is the hardest. Yet if the problem

with Pakistan cannot be solved, the war in Afghanistan cannot be won.

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Now, Obama is sending Marines into Asskrackastan to 'talk' to the Taliban. That should work out well. See Huffpo for the story.

It's time to take the next step in human intelligence and realize we can't dominate the world

anymore, we have to live in it, not above it.

 

Ok, comrade.

 

To me, the next step in human intelligence as you say, is more advanced warfare systems. We aren't going to go anywhere with 'touchy-feely' rhetoric. Since you haven't served in our military, I'll cut you a break. Unless you want to speak another language, we best be the dominant power in the world....always. Strength will keep the riff raft off our front doorstep.

 

 

 

 

 

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Ok, comrade.

To me, the next step in human intelligence as you say, is more advanced warfare systems. We aren't going to go anywhere with 'touchy-feely' rhetoric. Since you haven't served in our military, I'll cut you a break. Unless you want to speak another language, we best be the dominant power in the world....always. Strength will keep the riff raft off our front doorstep.

 

Actually, two oceans do the most to keep threats off of our doorstep. There's no reason we need to spend as much as the rest of the industrialized world combined on our military. After all, we have little by way of homeland threats and well...we're broke.

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Actually, two oceans do the most to keep threats off of our doorstep. There's no reason we need to spend as much as the rest of the industrialized world combined on our military. After all, we have little by way of homeland threats and well...we're broke.

 

Our doorstep means every US interest we have in the world and the relationships we have with all of our allies, but I hear ya.

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And Obama wants to draw down US troop strength?

 

Shifting towards a new manned bomber and air/naval forces seems quite reasonable to me.

 

Iran has almost 200 million people. The forces President Bush mobilized for Iraqi Freedom wouldn't be remotely sufficient to seize and evaluate those facilities attacked for bomb damage assessment, if nothing else. Internal disagreements do not translate into local support for the US in the event of invasion. There is no possibility of any support on the ground in Iran and there is no possibility of domestic support here. There is a near guarantee of massive unrest in Iraq and the failure of all our efforts there, of massive disruption of the world economy as the antiship missiles fly, of a decade's worth of damage is done to Middle Eastern oil infrastructure.

 

The Army took more than the historically normal share of the budget during the Iraq War (and needed more, of course, but that would have precluded tax cuts.) The AF and Navy need to catch up for expenditures not made for the past decade, and they'd need to do so even if the F-35 hadn't turned into the Mother of All Cost Overruns. (I just came from Aviation Week .... the earliest possible IOC for any F-35 variant is now 2010. Maybe.)

 

The reductions in Army strength will basically take the Army back to that size it had assumed before the Great WOMD Snipe Hunt. With the possible exception of Newt Gingrich, I don't think there's a single candidate who would give a serious thought to a new infantry war in the Middle East.

 

Are you serious?

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Now, Obama is sending Marines into Asskrackastan to 'talk' to the Taliban. That should work out well. See Huffpo for the story.

 

No doubt he is doing so. What's the alternative? Would you agree that the support of the American people is necessary for this country to engage in extended warfare?

Do you note any domestic outcry in either party for a larger and long-term commitment to Afghanistan?

 

I'll take a poke at the CFR fantasy wishlist, too.

 

 

 

 

 

It's time to take the next step in human intelligence and realize we can't dominate the world

anymore, we have to live in it, not above it. "

 

I agree, but the GOP still has a strong, albeit currently muted, neocon core that doesn't feel that way.

 

Roundup: U.S. to end Afghan combat mission by 2013

Editor's Note: The following is reprinted with the permission of the Council on Foreign Relations.

U.S. defense secretary Leon E. Panetta said U.S. forces would end their combat mission in Afghanistan by mid-2013, taking on an "advise and assist" role (NYT) to Afghan security forces. All U.S. troops are expected to be withdrawn from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. Panetta made the announcement en route to Brussels for a NATO meeting focusing on the future of Afghanistan. The decision comes on the heels of a leaked NATO report that says the Taliban, allegedly backed by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency, remains a significant obstacle to peace in Afghanistan."

 

That seems to represent the general consensus, so arguendo let's assume it so.

 

 

Analysis

"For the United States, the war is coming to an end. Its critical goals have been achieved. Osama bin Laden is dead. Al-Qaeda there is virtually dead. There are no vital interests to justify further great sacrifices. And now it's time to act upon this reality and bring the heroes home, writes CFR's Leslie H. Gelb at the Daily Beast.

The U.S. report belies the notion that the policy of assassinating mid-level Taliban commanders (night raids are often little more than death squads) is having any lasting effect on an organization which retains the ability to selectively moderate its violence in order to encourage NATO forces to leave faster," says this Guardian editorial.

"The essential goal now–as 11 years ago–is to prevent Afghanistan becoming a base for international terrorism. Worryingly, however, NATO's common purpose is disintegrating. America announced yesterday that it would end combat operations in the middle of next year, well ahead of the December 2014 deadline for withdrawal agreed by NATO," says this Telegraph editorial.

 

A dangerous thing, I have to agree. I don't think that it's going to matter, per the following.

 

 

"Four Keys to Success in Afghanistan

The war in Afghanistan is not going well; almost all trends are

moving in the wrong direction. But we still have time to focus, improve our

strategy, calibrate our means. It will help immeasurably if we keep in mind

the basic objective of U.S. policy: "Our primary goal is to prevent

Afghanistan from being used as a base for terrorists and extremists to

attack the United States and its allies," Defense Secretary Robert Gates

said last week. That is an admirably clear statement.

It is not that we don't have other goals -- education, female literacy,

centralized control of government services, drug eradication, liberal

democracy. But Afghanistan is one of the world's poorest and most war-torn

countries. At best, many of these objectives will be realized partially,

over very long periods, and they should not be measured as part of military

campaigns or political cycles. They are also goals not best achieved by

military force. The U.S. Army is being asked to do enough in Afghanistan.

Helping it to stay focused on a core mission is neither cramped nor

defeatist but realistic. Such a plan for success would have four steps,

each more complicated than the last."

 

 

O-kay .....

 

"Do counterinsurgency right. Despite David Petraeus's demonstrable

success in Iraq, U.S. forces in Afghanistan have, to this point, largely

relied on more old-fashioned tactics -- raids, search-and-destroy missions,

air attacks. The needed number of additional U.S. troops is not large.

Afghanistan is predominantly rural, with a limited number of large

population centers and roads requiring protection. And Gen. David

McKiernan, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, has already begun to focus on

this approach. Between the addition of two to four U.S. brigades and a

ramp-up of the Afghan army, there should be enough troops to execute a

modified version of the new counterinsurgency strategy."

 

I doubt that very, very much. Even with a supposedly "limited" mission, counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism is a long term thing, and it's manpower intensive.

Afghanistan is a vast place in the traditional military sense that area has to be computed with transportation infrastructure and obstacles in the measure. It's far bigger than Iraq was. I don't see any hope of mounting such a force.

 

"Make the Afghan government credible. The central government is widely

seen as weak, dysfunctional and utterly corrupt. Unfortunately, many of its

most corrupt elements are allies of the West and have thus gained a kind of

immunity."

 

Suuuuuure. And how do we do that. Karzai can barely stand us and has zealously protected every high-end thief brought to his attention. How do we make a government honest? Hard enough to maintain a modicum of honesty in government at home.

 

 

"The most immediate way to enhance the legitimacy of the Afghan

government would be to ensure that presidential and local elections take

place this year without disruption and that viable alternative candidates

are free to campaign. But elections are only one form of political

legitimacy. There should be a much broader effort to reach out to tribal

leaders, hold local councils and build a more diverse base of support. The

goal should not be a strong central government -- Afghanistan is by nature

decentralized -- but a legitimate government with credibility and allies

throughout the country."

 

Now we're back to long-term nation building. And we're working against the self-perceived interests of the Karzai government. How much cooperation does anyone think we'll get in persuading a government of kleptocrats to give up theft?

 

 

"Talk to the Taliban. The United States is properly and unalterably

opposed to al-Qaeda. We have significant differences with the Taliban on

many issues -- democracy and the treatment of women being the most serious.

But we do not wage war on other Islamist groups with which we similarly

disagree (the Saudi monarchy, for example). Were elements of the Taliban to

abandon al-Qaeda, we would not have a pressing national security interest

in waging war against them."

 

Yes. We're apparently doing this; this thread is resounding with complaints that it's wrong to do so.

 

 

"In fact, there is a powerful military advantage to moving in this

direction. Al-Qaeda is a stateless organization that controls no territory

of its own; it can survive and thrive only with a host community. Our

objective should be to cut off al-Qaeda from its allies in Afghanistan and

Pakistan. Deprived of local support, al-Qaeda would be a much diminished

threat. It is true, of course, that some elements of the Taliban might be

closely wedded to al-Qaeda. But others are not."

 

True. Our best hope for peace and quiet out of Afghanistan is that Mullah Omar (if he's really in charge; who knows?) will conclude that the breakage in the house caused by having al-Queda as a guest isn't worth the grief.

 

 

"Although the United States is in its seventh year of war in

Afghanistan, not one Afghan was involved at any significant level in the

Sept.11 attacks. All the plots that have been traced back to the region

lead not to Afghanistan but Pakistan"

 

A dubious half-truth. Afghanistan provided a geographic home for the chief plotters, and a base of operation. President Bush gave the Taliban government a clear warning: hand them over or share their fate. They made their choice.

 

.

"Solve Pakistan. When the United States invaded Afghanistan, it did not

defeat al-Qaeda and its supporters among the Taliban. They simply fled to

Pakistan, their original home. Pakistan has long viewed the various Islamic

militias it created and helped fund -- including the Taliban -- as useful

weapons in its arsenal, low-cost ways to keep its historic foes, India and

Afghanistan, off balance. For Islamabad to genuinely renounce these groups

would require a fundamental strategic rethinking within the Pakistani

military."

 

It sure would require a huge re-think, a culture change within the Pakistani military. How do we do that?

 

 

"The civilian government in Pakistan, although weak and ineffective, is

allied with the international community on these issues."

 

Maybe.

 

" It, too, wants a Pakistani military that knows its boundaries, does not run militant groups

and conceives of the country's national interests in less-confrontational

terms."

 

Knows its' boundaries - that is, refrains from coups - yes. Everything else is a "maybe."

 

" I don't want to make this sound easy. It won't be. Of all the tasks

facing Petraeus, as head of U.S. Central Command, and newly appointed U.S.

special envoy Richard Holbrooke, this is the hardest. Yet if the problem

with Pakistan cannot be solved, the war in Afghanistan cannot be won.

 

All of this is desireable and sensible. Parts of it are barely possible. Some of it seems beyond all hope.

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