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NATO Top Diplomat in Atlanta: Washington and Pakistan Need Each Other

Mike Klein

Pakistan’s prime minister uttered menacing words toward Washington on Monday as diplomatic nerves continue to fray after American troops took out Osama bin Laden.  But thousands of miles away in Atlanta, the NATO Secretary General was equally forceful in saying that success in that part of the world means Washington and Pakistan need each other.

“Osama bin Laden apparently has been hiding in Pakistan for quite some years.  That fact raises a lot of questions,” NATO’s Anders Fogh Rasmussen said.  “My bottom line is that we need strong cooperation from Pakistan.  If we are to ensure long-term peace and stability in Afghanistan and beyond, then we need the positive engagement of Pakistan.”

Rasmussen noted that he spoke with President Barack Obama after the military strike that took out the al Qaeda terrorist.  “Osama bin Laden stood against all the values that America and Europe have shared and upheld for many decades, freedom, tolerance and humanity.”

NATO’s Secretary General also brought this observation to Atlanta:  “Over the past few months brave people throughout the Arab world have cried out for freedom, freedom that we have enjoyed for many decades, not least thanks to NATO.  Change is taking hold in the Middle East and North Africa but Libya is an exception. Colonel (Moammar) Gadhafi and his regime are repressing their people who have expressed the desire for freedom.”

Rasmussen made Atlanta the second of four cities on a whirlwind getting-to-know-you better tour that began in Washington, D.C. this past weekend, continues in Austin, Texas on Tuesday, and then moves to Chicago before the Secretary General returns to Washington later this week.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen (NATO Photo)

“My bottom line is, there is no alternative to a positive engagement with Pakistan,” the former two-term Prime Minister of Denmark told 200 World Affairs Council of Atlanta guests at The Commerce Club.   “We should support those forces in Pakistan that realize the real threats against the Pakistani society come from terrorists and extremists.”

Pakistan is feeling emotionally tattooed after Americans parachuted under the cover of night into Abbottabad, landed in bin Laden’s compound, easily killed him and then flew away with his shot-up body and an enormous cache of intelligence that U.S. officials believe will be invaluable in the effort to find and kill or capture more terrorists.

Pakistan reacted with bewilderment, dismay and embarrassment last week. Then on Monday, a defiant Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told his Parliament that bin Laden’s death was “justice done” but he also warned Washington, “Unilateralism runs the inherent risk of serious consequences.”

U.S. officials now believe intelligence taken from bin Laden’s compound proves the terrorist was still engaged at high levels within al Qaeda, which has long been tied to Afghanistan’s Taliban.

Rasmussen said Taliban insurgents are at a crossroads. “Continued fighting will lead to Taliban defeat.  So, time has come for the Taliban to cut links with al Qaeda.  Extremism has no future.  Cut links with al Qaeda, renounce violence, engage in the political process, help rebuilding the Afghan society.”

Rasmussen seemed publicly less concerned about growing political pressure that bin Laden’s death means the United States should downsize its costly military commitment in Afghanistan.

“International terrorism still poses a direct threat to our security and stability across the world.”  Afghanistan, Rasmussen said, “has been ravaged by over 30 years of conflict.  We have the right strategy, the right resources and the resolve to see this through.  We will continue our mission to ensure that Afghanistan does not return to being a sanctuary for extremists and terrorists.”

Rasmussen has several times publicly stated that Libyan dictator Colonel Moammar Gadhafi must go.  “There is no military solution solely to the problems in Libya.  And, it’s hard to imagine that attacks against the civilian population would stop as long as Gadhafi remains in power.”

NATO assumed command of multi-national forces aligned against Libya five weeks ago.  “Consider this: What if we had stood by and watched as Gadhafi’s regime killed innocent civilians in Benghazi?  What would that have said about our values?” Rasmussen asked.

NATO has flown 5,500 sorties against Libyan government forces.  “We have significantly downgraded Gadhafi’s war machine. The clear message is, Gadhafi, it’s time to leave.  Your time is out.  There is no future for you and your regime.”

Rasmussen arrived in the United States on Saturday.  He visited wounded service personnel at the U.S. military hospital in Bethesda, Maryland.  The NATO Secretary General is also making time to meet with Georgia and Texas National Guard troops. “I am grateful for their service and for their sacrifice.”

(Mike Klein is Editor at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation)

May 9, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

U.S. Takes Out Murderer Osama bin Laden: “A Great Day For the U.S.”

Mike Klein

Georgia’s United States senators, Governor Nathan Deal and the state’s thirteen congressmen were united in praise on Monday for the U.S. military hit that killed Osama bin Laden.   Congressman Austin Scott released a YouTube video that you can watch here.  Congressman David Scott issued a succinct statement on Facebook: “A great day for the U.S.”

Osama bin Laden masterminded the September 11, 2001 attack against the United States, along with many other incidents during two decades of terrorist violence. Bin Laden was shot in the head and killed when U.S. forces stormed his compound in Pakistan.  President Barack Obama announced the successful hit on bin Laden during a late Sunday evening live broadcast from the White House.

Governor Nathan Deal:
“We celebrate this victory against an embodiment of evil, and we remember and mourn the thousands of innocents who died at the hands of this murderer. Today, our great nation showed once again that we will stop at nothing to defeat those who threaten our people with terrorism.”

Senator Saxby Chambliss:
“This is a historic moment for the U.S. special operations and intelligence communities. I highly commend the special operations units who undertook this mission and carried it out. The CIA and others in the U.S. intelligence community did a phenomenal job over several months in carrying out this assignment.”  An early version of the Chambliss statement said there were no injuries to women and children; that part was retracted after U.S. officials said one woman who was being used as a human shield was killed.

Senator Johnny Isakson:
“This is an historic moment that brings to a close an unfortunate chapter in American history. This day comes as a result of the hard work by the Central Intelligence Agency, the national security agencies and especially our military. We have hunted down and killed the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, but we must not stop here. The threat of terrorism still exists and we must remain steadfast in our mission to eradicate it around the globe.”

Congressman Jack Kingston (1st):
“What happens in the Hereafter to a man whose life caused the death of so many innocent people is left up to God.  Our job is to continue the fight against terrorism which he – on tragic day – raised to the highest level.  “His legacy in America is more government security, more check points, less personal freedom, more war and an end to our relative isolation and peace as we knew it.  While the world is better off without him, his hatred lives on in his followers and we must remain ever vigilant on their next move.”

Congressman Sanford Bishop (2nd):
“We all remember where we were on September 11th when Al Qaeda attacked our country, but today we have finally brought the mastermind of those terrorist attacks to justice. I congratulate President Obama, our military and the intelligence community for conducting a successful mission to kill Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan. While this is a great moment in the war on terror, the threat from those who wish to harm our country will continue, and we must remain vigilant.”

Congressman Lynn Westmoreland (3rd):
“Today is a great day for America.  After years of searching for the terrorist behind the most massive strike on American soil since World War II, we have finally killed Osama Bin Laden.  This is a huge victory for our troops and I would like to personally thank them for all they have done for us.  This historic victory is also due to our Intelligence Community and all of our international partners in the War on Terror.  Without their work and support, we would never have been able to achieve this.  The backbone of al-Qaeda is no more.”

Congressman Hank Johnson (4th):
“This victory in the ongoing fight against violent extremism shows the resolve of the American people and the leadership of President Obama. We are grateful to U.S. intelligence personnel and military forces who carried out this essential mission and brought Osama bin Laden to justice.”

Congressman John Lewis (5th):
“I am not one to rejoice in the death of any person, but Osama bin Laden took the lives of thousands of innocent people in this country and around the world.   He committed heinous crimes that ended the hopes and dreams of many courageous public servants … Many people left home for work that day never to return. Today thousands of families are missing their fathers and mothers, sons and daughters due to the violence this man fomented and supported.  His terrorism changed not only individual lives, but it promoted an environment of fear and the need for ever-ready security to assure the defense of this nation and others around the world.”  (Edited for Length)

Congressman Tom Price (6th):
“Confirmation of the death of Osama bin Laden is welcome news to freedom loving people around the globe. Evil has met justice. The brave men and women of our military forces and intelligence services are to be commended for their defense of our liberty and freedom.  May God Bless America.”

Congressman Rob Woodall (7th):
“The news that Osama bin Laden has been located and killed by U.S. troops is uplifting and sobering at the same time.  We all remember where we were and what we were doing when the hijacked planes crashed on American soil.  We will all now remember where we were and what we were doing when the President of the United States announced that the man with the blood of more than 3,000 Americans on his hands is no longer a threat to America.  My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims of the September 11 attacks, for the soldiers overseas who are still working to keep our homeland safe, and the families that wait so patiently for their return.”

Congressman Austin Scott (8th):

Congressman Tom Graves (9th):
“For the victims of 9/11, U.S.S. Cole, the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and countless other terror attacks across the globe, justice has finally been brought to the chief perpetrator of those evils, Osama bin Laden.  Not only is this a great day for America, but also for all in the world who cherish freedom and democracy … May God bless our fighting men and women, their families, and all who continue the work of bringing justice to those who have attacked or threaten terror against the United States.” (Edited for Length)

Congressman Paul Broun (10th):
“I am elated to learn that Osama bin Laden, an enemy with so much blood on his hands, has finally been brought to justice.  I congratulate our brave men and women in uniform who fought tirelessly to secure this victory, and I encourage all Americans to remember those who paid the ultimate price while fighting the War on Terror. We will forever be grateful. I also commend President Barack Obama, our Commander in Chief, for authorizing this strategic operation, as well as President Bush for initially launching our counterattack after the tragic events of September 11th, 2001.” (Edited for Length)

Congressman Phil Gingrey (11th):
“The death of the terror mastermind, Osama bin Laden, is a victory for Americans and all those who believe in the principles of freedom and justice. The horrific attacks on our nation on September 11, 2001 began a relentless pursuit for the death or capture of bin Laden. This news proves that – no matter how long it takes – we will not rest until those who kill Americans have been brought to justice.”  (Edited for Length)

Congressman John Barrow (12th):  
“This is a true victory for our country, and it shows that Americans are committed to fighting terrorism wherever it hides, and for however long it takes.  Our military leaders, intelligence community, and brave men and women who executed the raid that killed bin Laden special commendation today.  These folks have never wavered in their commitment to our country, and our entire nation is grateful for their service.  Anyone who attacks America needs to know that our people and our country will not rest until justice is done.”

Congressman David Scott (13th)
“A great day for the U.S.”

Quotes were compiled from official websites and statements to news organizations.

(Mike Klein is Editor at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation)

May 2, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment