Creating A 12 To 24-Month Policy Bridge For A New Afghanistan Strategy by Lawrence J. Sellin

 

 

“Creating A 12 To 24-Month Policy Bridge For A New Afghanistan Strategy”

By Lawrence J. Sellin, Colonel, United States Army (ret.)

Up until now his advisors have offered President Trump two choices for failure in Afghanistan, one quick, withdrawal, and one slow, a continuation of the failed strategy of the last sixteen years.

By now it should be apparent to all knowledgeable people that U.S. objectives cannot be achieved in land-locked Afghanistan where Pakistan, whose Afghanistan objectives differ from ours, controls the supply of our troops and the battle tempo through its support of the Taliban and Haqqani network.

An alternative is to provide the President with a 12 to 24-month plan that bridges the gap between the present untenable strategy to a longer term solution.

That is, rather than tweak the current strategy, begin to address the core problem, a strategic environment that has made success of the current strategy impossible.

Within the next two years, the Trump Administration should formulate a strategy that exploits Pakistan’s pain points, one which carves out roles for the Department of Defense, Department of State and Congress.

While preventing a further deterioration in the security situation in Afghanistan, different permutations and degrees of the following actions should be pursued, both as short term leverage against Pakistan and, ideally, to create a regional strategic environment more conducive to U.S. interests.  That is, it is not the Taliban and the Haqqani network that need to be brought to the negotiating table, but Pakistan.

  1. Foreign aid to Pakistan – reduce it to a trickle. Even Pakistan’s former ambassador to the United States says that a tougher approach needs to be adopted toward his country: “The Bush administration gave Pakistan $12.4 billion in aid, and the Obama administration forked over $21 billion. These incentives did not make Pakistan more amenable to cutting off support for the Afghan Taliban.”
  2. Major Non-NATO Ally (MNNA) status – cancel all or part of it. As a MNNA country, approved by President George W. Bush in 2004, Pakistan became “eligible for priority delivery of defense material, an expedited arms sale process, and a U.S. loan guarantee program, which backs up loans issued by private banks to finance arms exports. It can also stockpile U.S. military hardware, participate in defense research and development programs, and be sold more sophisticated weaponry.”
  1. Declaration of Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism – advance the House bill through Congress. On September 20, 2016, Congressman Ted Poe (TX-02), the Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism, along with Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (CA-48), introduced H.R.6069, the Pakistan State Sponsor of Terrorism Designation Act. According to Chairman Poe: “Not only is Pakistan an untrustworthy ally, Islamabad has also aided and abetted enemies of the United States for years.  From harboring Osama bin Laden to its cozy relationship with the Haqqani network, there is more than enough evidence to determine whose side Pakistan is on in the War on Terror.”
  2. Durand Line – Pakistan depends on it – question its legitimacy. The Durand Line is the arbitrary 1896 border drawn between Afghanistan and Pakistan by British Diplomat Sir Mortimer Durand. Pashtun lands have been artificially divided and Pakistan is using its Pashtun population as Taliban cannon fodder.
  3. China-Pakistan Economic Corridor – undermine it. Pakistan has significant economic incentive to exclude western countries from maintaining any influence in Afghanistan. It is called the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is part of China’s larger Belt and Road Initiative that aims to connect Asia through land-based and maritime economic zones. CPEC is an infrastructure project, the backbone of which is a transportation network connecting China to the Pakistani seaports of Gwadar and Karachi located on the Arabian Sea. Gwadar is a potential Chinese naval base at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, which will complement another Chinese naval base in Djibouti at the mouth of the Red Sea creating two critical strategic choke points.
  4. Ethnic separatism – encourage it – Pakistan is the Yugoslavia of South Asia. Probably the greatest of all potential Pakistani pain points is ethnic separatism. Pakistan was founded on the religion of Islam and is composed primarily of five ethnic groups that never coexisted, the Bengalis, Punjabis, Pashtuns, Sindhis and Baloch. Pakistan’s Islamic nationalism program was specifically designed to suppress ethnic separatism, an effort that eventually led to the proliferation of Islamic terrorist groups within its borders and their use as instruments of Pakistan’s foreign policy. Exploitation of ethnic separatism within Pakistan, such as in Balochistan, remains an option. That is, fight an insurgency with an insurgency.

A longer term solution for Afghanistan was described previously in the Daily Caller, one based on counterterrorism rather than counterinsurgency, providing a cost-effective, flexible and “conditions-based” strategy advocated by retired U.S. Army Major General Paul Vallely in a Diana West article.

“Such a strategy, Vallely explained, relies on ‘the maximum use of unconventional forces,’ such as Navy SEALS and other special forces, who can be deployed as needed from what are known in military parlance as ‘lily pads’ — outposts or jumping-off points in friendly countries (Israel, Northern Kurdistan, India, Philippines, Italy, Djibouti … ) and from U.S. aircraft carrier strike groups. Such strike groups generally include eight to 10 vessels ‘with more fire power,’ the general noted, ‘than most nations.’ These lily pads become ‘bases we can launch from any time we want to,’ eliminating the need for massive land bases such as Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, by now a small city of 20,000 American personnel who continuously need to be supplied and secured at enormous expense.”

In terms of Afghanistan strategy, it is time to build a bridge to somewhere.

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From 2009:

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Smoking Out Obama and Clinton’s Partner Iran and 9 11

 

 

 

 

 

 

Iran to finally pay for role in September 11 attacks

JURY RULES MANHATTAN-BASED CHARITY IS FRONT FOR IRANIAN REGIME; FEDS SEIZE ITS NYC BUILDING.

by Jordan Schachtel

 

The Islamic-theocracy ruling Iran will finally pay for its role in helping facilitate the Sept. 11 and other acts of terrorism against the United States.

The New York Times reports a jury decided that the U.S. government has the right to take over a New York City building majority-owned by the Alavi Foundation — a supposed charity that is deeply connected to the Iranian regime. The foundation owns 60 percent of the building, while the Assa Corporation, an Iranian state-run bank, owns 40 percent.

In what prosecutors called the “largest terrorism-related civil forfeiture in United States history,” the federal takedown and seizure could bring as much as $1 billion to the families of victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia, and the 1983 bombings of a U.S. Marine Corps barracks in Lebanon.

In 2011, a federal judge in Manhattan ruled that Iran was heavily connected to the 9/11 attacks. Moreover, the 9/11 Commission found “strong evidence” that Iran harbored and aided senior members of al-Qaida prior to 9/11, brokering a key alliance with the Sunni group. Confidants of Osama bin Laden frequently traveled through Iran, where they reportedly participated in al-Qaida training, the deceased terror mastermind’s memos reveal.

The Khobar Towers bombing — which resulted in the deaths of 19 American servicemen, and wounded 372 more — was “planned, funded, and sponsored by senior leadership in the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” a federal judge determined.

The Beirut Marine barracks bombings — which killed 241 Americans — were planned and executed by the government in Tehran, its Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), and its Hezbollah proxy.

“The owners of 650 Fifth Avenue gave the Iranian government a critical foothold in the very heart of Manhattan through which Iran successfully circumvented U.S. economic sanctions,” said acting U.S. attorney Joon H. Kim, following the verdict on Thursday.

Judge Katherine B. Forrest of the Federal District Court in Manhattan wrote an additional memo declaring she was “firmly convinced” that Alavi Foundation was a front for the Iranian regime. Forrest said the foundation “takes directives from Iranian government officials, and its day-to-day operators have been appointed by Iranian officials to ensure conformity with the interests of the government of Iran.”

Instead of transferring funds to its mothership in Tehran, the Alavi-building verdict will enable American families to receive some reparation for their traumatic losses and experiences.

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“Convicted Iran front group loaded Clinton Foundation with cash”

 

 

Busted Iran front group loaded Clinton Foundation with cash

THE ALAVI FOUNDATION REGULARLY SENT FIVE-FIGURE DONATIONS TO THE CLINTON FOUNDATION.

Posted July 03, 2017 10:42 AM by Jordan Schachtel

An Iranian foundation recently convicted as a front organization for the theocratic regime in Tehran donated five-figure sums to the infamous Clinton Foundation.

Last week, a New York grand jury ruled that the government can seize a building majority-owned by the Alavi Foundation, agreeing with prosecutors that it is a front group for the mullahs in Tehran. The foundation used the Manhattan skyscraper to garner hundreds of millions in revenue so it could supply cash for its “charitable” endeavors inside the United States.

The Alavi Foundation rarely donated to non-Islamic or non-academic institutions. Alavi spent most of its funds on building Shiite institutions — such as mosques and cultural centers — and installing Iran-friendly professors at prominent American universities.

So its regular donations to the Clinton Foundation — now estimated at around $100,000 — particularly stood out. From 1985 to 2014, the Alavi Foundation — which last year listed its assets at over $100 million — donated to only 13 non-Islamic organizations.

In addition to its direct donations to the Clinton Foundation, the Alavi Foundation has also sent money to organizations associated with the non-profit. Alavi has given funds to the Clinton Foundation through its supposed humanitarian programs (the “Child Foundation”) in Louisiana and Haiti.

Prominent legislators have labeled the Clinton Foundation as something resembling a money-laundering and influence-peddling operation. Its critics argue that the foundation was primarily utilized to curry favor with the power Clinton family. They point to instances like the foundation’s disaster-relief fundraising efforts in Haiti, which ended up enriching the Clinton Foundation and not doing anything substantive to relieve the suffering of the people on the ground.

When first confronted with the possibility that the Alavi Foundation was an Iranian front group, the Clinton Foundation refused to return its donations.

At the time, in 2015, New York U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “For two decades, the Alavi Foundation’s affairs have been directed by various Iranian officials, including Iranian ambassadors at the United Nations, in violation of a series of U.S. laws.”

It remains unclear if the conviction of the Alavi Foundation will change whether the Clinton Foundation will dispose of the terror-linked funds they have regularly received from the Iranian front group. If the Clinton Foundation continues to take funds from Alavi, the Clintons will be enabling a country determined — by bipartisan consensus — in U.S. government circles as the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism.

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Confronting North Korea by changing the dynamics. By James A. Lyons, Admiral USN (ret).

 

Confronting North Korea by changing the dynamics.

Withdrawing U.S. military dependents from the South would signal seriousness

By James A. Lyons, Admiral USN (ret).

 

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

On July 4, North Korea successfully test-fired the equivalent of an intercontinental ballistic missile with the potential to hit not only our regional allies but Alaska as well. Leading up to the latest test, President Trump, regrettably, has followed the path of the five previous administrations, believing that cozying up to China’s communist government would be helpful in reining in North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. By now, everyone should understand that will never happen. Let’s be clear: There would be no North Korean nuclear weapons program if it were not for China and Russia. Further, North Korea is the off-site laboratory and test site for Iran’s nuclear program.

Relying on China to rein in North Korea’s nuclear program has not only been a dismal failure, but a serious strategic mistake. Mr. Trump needs to stop listening to the Obama holdovers and other “undercover agents” for strategic advice. We should certainly understand by now that China’s strategic objectives include a nuclear-armed North Koreaas a way to lessen U.S. influence not only in South Korea but, ultimately, throughout the Western Pacific. Never forget — China is seeking total hegemony throughout the first island chain, which includes Taiwan and, eventually, the second island chain, which includes Guam, our main support base.

With those clear objectives, China is not about to hand us a victory on the Korean Peninsula without strong actions on our part. The fact that North Korea’s latest missile test was fired from a 16-wheel, road-mobile, transporter-erector-launcher supplied by China should have been particularly galling to Mr. Trump. According to Japanese reports, there are eight China-supplied launchers in North Korea. To rub salt in the wound, both China and Russia issued a joint statement on the day of the North Korean test, proposing to resolve the problem by having North Korea freeze its nuclear and ballistic missile testing (no dismantlement), provided the United States abandons large-scale joint exercises with South Korea.

 

There is simply no equivalence here. These defensive exercises have been a key component of maintaining peace and stability for the past 50 years. Why would we change? Ending these exercises has been a long-term China objective, which Beijing knows is a non-starter. Further, the fact that both China and Russia were able to issue a joint statement on the day of the test indicates that they most likely had advance notification.

On July 6, left-wing, newly elected South Korean President Moon Jae-in, following up on his campaign rhetoric, proposed more dialogue with North Korea and said that he is prepared to meet Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader. He also extended an olive branch by calling for more economic cooperation and a resumption of family reunions. Regrettably, Mr. Moon doesn’t get it: You don’t reward a totalitarian regime for bad behavior. As we have seen many times, such conciliatory gestures are viewed only as a sign of weakness.

According to a July 7 Wall Street Journal article, the Trump administration plans to give diplomacy and economic sanctions more time to resolve the crisis with North Korea. With China, Russia and Iran ignoring the economic sanctions, though, there will be no change in North Korea’s violation of U.N. sanctions. When speaking in Warsaw with Polish President Andrzej Duda, however, Mr. Trump stated that he was considering “some pretty severe things,” which certainly could imply military action. Previously, the president has stated that since China has failed to help solve the problem, we will have to do it ourselves.

As we have seen over the years, successful diplomacy must have strong, recognized military options. It was “peace through strength” that was key to winning the Cold War against the Soviet Union. Under the current circumstances, without a dramatic change in the dynamics controlling the crisis with North Korea, more diplomatic discussions and potential talks with North Korea like the previous Six Party Talks, will also fail.

To put substance into our past declarations that “all options are being considered,” a dramatic, dynamic change must be introduced into the Korean equation. Accordingly, it is proposed that we plan to withdraw all U.S. military dependents from South Korea. This will not only remove a “hostage force” from the South Korean environment, but would also upset both China and North Korea’s calculations on what further actions are we planning to take. Certainly, it would provide us the freedom to plan a range of military options.

During the time it would take to remove all U.S. military dependents from South Korea, we should begin to massively reinforce our forces in the Western Pacific. This should include two or three attack carrier strike groups as well as four Air Force bomber squadrons, and up to 24 fighter squadrons with accompanying support forces. We should also plan to reintroduce tactical nuclear weapons into South Korea as well as on our forward-deployed submarines. A crash program to provide cruise-missile arsenal ships should also be part of the buildup.

 

Coordination with our allies will need to be factored into our overall planning. In that sense, an expanded military equipment package for Taiwan should also be planned. The unambiguous message that we would be sending is that we will not accept a nuclear-armed North Korea. It must dismantle its nuclear program or be destroyed.

  • James A. Lyons, U.S. Navy retired admiral, was commander-in-chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations.

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Trump’s Middle East doctrine by Admiral James A. Lyons, USN (ret.)

 

 

 

Trump’s Middle East doctrine

A key objective is the isolation of Iran

by Admiral James A. Lyons, USN (ret.)

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

President Trump’s historic visit last month to Saudi Arabia, where he met with the heads of more than 50 mostly Sunni heads of state, dramatically marked the end of eight years of Barack Obama’s appeasement of Iran. It signaled to all the Muslim leaders that the United States as the “strong horse” is back. There was no doubt in any of the Muslim leaders’ minds that Mr. Trump is a man of action and a leader who will keep his word.

Mr. Trump’s goal of establishing a coalition of nations that share the objective of defeating terrorist groups and providing for a stable and hopeful future made it clear that the assembled nations cannot be indifferent to the presence of evil. That evil is represented not only by the Islamic State (ISIS), al Qaeda et al., but also by Iran, the recognized world leader of state-sponsored terrorism. In that sense, one of the key objectives of the summit was to isolate Iran, a goal embraced by the coalition, as well as their shared disdain for the Obama administration’s atrocious failed nuclear agreement with Iran.

Mr. Trump also made it clear that this coalition of nations must adopt a policy of “sovereign responsibility,” which means that they cannot wait for American power to defeat the enemy for them. They must be directly involved, with our assistance.

Nonetheless, the Trump doctrine must be driven by our core vital interests, which are:

  • Eliminating ISIS as a functioning entity.
  • Preventing Iran from achieving a nuclear weapon capability.
  • Preventing Iranian hegemony throughout the Middle East.
  • Removing the Iranian theocracy from power.
  • Re-establishing and strengthening our relations with our traditional allies.
  • Ensuring the survival of Israel.
  • Establishing a sovereign Kurdistan.
  • Maintaining freedom of navigation throughout the Persian Gulf and Red Sea, including strategic choke points, e.g., the Suez Canal, the Bab el-Mandeb Strait and the Strait of Hormuz.

The establishment of a Global Terrorism Center for Combating Extremism in Riyadh was a manifestation of the shared objective of defeating terrorist groups and isolating Iran, but its effectiveness will depend on results. The same can be said for the establishment of the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center, co-chaired by the United States and Saudi Arabia, as well as the United States-United Arab Emirates Center to Counter the Online Spread of Hate. It was clear to all the attendees that a peaceful, stable future can only be achieved by defeating the ideology that drives terrorism. Carrying this out will require some very fundamental and painful changes. For example, mosques and imams that preach hate and urge all Muslims to conduct violent jihad should be closed and the imams removed.

Concrete steps must be taken to stop funds from going to radical mosques and front groups that promote terrorism. Targeting funds being sent to various terrorists groups, e.g., ISIS and al Qaeda, must receive immediate priority. The source of these funds, be it from individuals or states like Qatar, must be identified and interdicted.

Qatar has been a particular problem because of its support of the Muslim Brotherhood and its cozy relationship with Iran. This came to a head on June 5, when Saudi Arabia broke diplomatic and some commercial relations with Qatar over its terrorist financing and its links to the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS, Hamas and the Houthi rebels in Yemen. Qatar’s relationship with Iran was a decisive factor in causing the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain to quickly join with Saudi Arabia in breaking relations. Most land, sea and air routes to Qatar have been closed. Qatar is an isthmus whose only land route is through Saudi Arabia by which it receives 40 percent of its food. This is a major problem for Qatar, despite Turkey’s offer of food and water delivered by sea.

Another issue that must be addressed is the U.S. Central Command’s forward air base in Qatar, which has been an essential element of our air campaign in the region. As of today, there has been no impact on U.S. air operations, but contingency plans should be made ready for an alternative air base if regional relationships further deteriorate.

An underlying element of the Trump doctrine that cannot be overstated is recognition that 65 percent of the population of the Middle East is under the age of 30, and that those youths must be provided with opportunities for a satisfying life as an attractive option to the lure of terrorist groups. While this is a worthy objective, Muslims don’t commit to jihad because they don’t have jobs. They commit to jihad because they are devout Muslims, many with university degrees. The only way they can be dissuaded from jihad is to see a crushing defeat of jihadis on the battlefield. Once they understand they cannot win, they are obligated by their own doctrine to back off.

Saudi Prince Mohammad bin Salman is taking the lead for economic and cultural reform in Saudi Arabia, and other members of the coalition should follow. Nevertheless, the indispensable principle for achieving the objectives of the Riyadh summit is the isolation of Iran, the prime mover of instability throughout the region. As a start, sanctions on the mullahs’ ballistic missile programs must be imposed. Further, until the unsigned nuclear weapons deal with Iran is formally canceled, real inspections by the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency must be conducted on all the sites in their nuclear weapon infrastructure.

Finally, an aggressive plan must be developed with the objective of removing the regime of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei from power. That is the first principle of any plan to return stability and peace to the Middle East.

  • James A. Lyons, a retired U.S. Navy admiral, was commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations.

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