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July 15, 2008

NSN Daily Update - 7/15/08
Posted by The National Security Network

A New Approach to Iraq Will Better Serve America’s National Security

“This war distracts us from every threat that we face and so many opportunities we could seize. This war diminishes our security, our standing in the world, our military, our economy, and the resources that we need to confront the challenges of the 21st century. By any measure, our single-minded and open-ended focus on Iraq is not a sound strategy for keeping America safe.” Sen. Barack Obama, 7/15/08

A new approach will focus resources on the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban. America’s 16 intelligence agencies say that al Qaeda is growing stronger and that the threat emanating out of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border is the single biggest danger to American security.  However, the New York Times reports that, “the White House shifted its sights, beginning in 2002, from counterterrorism efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan to preparations for the war in Iraq.” According to current and former military and intelligence officials the war in Iraq has consistently diverted resources and high-level attention from the fight against al Qaeda. Intelligence officials report that by 2006 the Iraq war had drained away most of the C.I.A. officers with field experience in the Islamic world. “You had a very finite number” of experienced officers, said one former senior intelligence official. “Those people all went to Iraq. We were all hurting because of Iraq.” In fact, “when American military and intelligence officials requested additional Predator drones to survey the tribal areas, they were told no drones were available because they had been sent to Iraq.” [New York Times, 6/30/08. NIE, 4/06. NIE, 7/07]

A new approach will rebalance the U.S. military. Gen. George Casey stated that “The cumulative effects of the last six-plus years at war have left our Army out of balance, consumed by the current fight and unable to do the things we know we need to do to properly sustain our all-volunteer force and restore our flexibility for an uncertain future.”  [Reuters, 2/26/08]

A new approach will give the U.S. more leverage with adversaries such as Iran. “A recent survey of 3,400 military officers found that a majority thought that either China or Iran were the big winners of the war in Iraq.” [Center for New American Security, 2/08]

A new approach will rebuild respect for the United States. Only 30 percent of Germans now have a positive view of the United States, down from 78 percent before Bush took office in January 2001. In Turkey, a Muslim democracy and NATO ally, only 9 percent now have a favorable view, down from 52 percent in late 2001. Most alarming is that just 51 percent of Britons – our partner in Iraq and our most reliable ally - now hold favorable views of the United States, down from 75 percent before the Iraq invasion. [IHT, 6/27/07. Pew Global Attitudes Project, 6/27/07. NY Times, 2/07/08]

Quick Hits

A majority of Americans believe the war in Afghanistan should take priority over the war in Iraq, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. Americans believe that the Afghanistan war effort was “worth fighting for” and that the US needs to win the war in Afghanistan for it to be a success, which is not true for Iraq.

European and Asian markets slumped today
despite the US government’s intervention in favor of the sinking mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The money boost was not able to end “a much broader assault of investor uncertainty on the financial markets.”

Ahead of his trip to Europe and the Middle East, Senator Barack Obama will reiterate his
national security goals in a major address today
. The emphasis will lie on “ending the war in Iraq, wrapping up the fight against al Qaeda, securing nuclear weapons from rogue states, achieving energy security and rebuilding alliances.”

The first video footage of Guantanamo interrogations was released by the lawyers of the Canadian inmate Omar Khadr. The 7-hour video provides unprecedented insight into the methods and effects of prolonged, intense questioning.

A senior member of the homeland advisory council was videotaped selling favors to Central Asian politicians and ex-presidents for donations to the Bush library.
This raises strong concerns over the ability of foreign governments to influence the administration through funds.

Two suicide bombers simultaneously detonated their charges in the middle of a crowd of army recruits in Iraq, killing 28-35 people. Despite fierce measures to counter insurgent attacks, the bombing demonstrates the continued violence taking place in Iraq.

The Taliban attack on a remote NATO outpost on Sunday marked the first instance where Taliban fighters breached the base.
The base’s defenses were not fully operational, which was exploited by the Taliban in their two-front assault, leaving 9 Americans dead and 15 wounded.

China reacted strongly against the ICC’s condemnation of the Sudanese president, saying that “the ICC's move should be conducive to safeguarding the stability of Sudan's situation and the proper resolution for the Darfur region rather than the contrary." China buys two thirds of Sudan’s petroleum exports and has been criticized for its apathetic stance on the genocide in Darfur.


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