Should the U.S. borrow less and tell China to donate more aid?
October 19th, 2011
06:00 PM ET

Should the U.S. borrow less and tell China to donate more aid?

By CNN's Adam Levine

It was a single line in a Republican debate focused mostly on domestic issues, but former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's suggestion that the U.S. borrow less from China, pull back some on humanitarian aid and push China to give more instead got the attention of the audience in the hall.

The comment came during a heated discussion about spending cuts at Tuesday's night's presidential debate in Nevada sponsored by CNN and the Western Republican Leadership Conference.

"I happen to think it doesn't make a lot of sense for us to borrow money from the Chinese to go give to another country for humanitarian aid. We ought to get the Chinese to take care of the people," Romney said to applause from the assembled crowd of western state Republicans.

Romney spokesman Ryan Williams told CNN Wednesday the candidate "was not suggesting that the United States should eliminate all spending on foreign assistance and instead leave it to other governments to engage in that activity.  Rather, he was making the point about the need to prioritize what we spend our federal dollars on given the state of our federal defect." FULL POST

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Filed under: 2012 Election • China • debate • Diplomacy • Foreign Policy • Romney
SEALS helicopter crash photos
October 19th, 2011
05:16 PM ET

First photos from the SEALS crash site

By Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr

Amid the 1200-page military investigation into the crash in Wardak province in August are photos of the helicopter.  These are the first photos released by the military of the crash that killed 38 on board, including 22 Navy SEALS.  It was the biggest loss of life in a single day for the U.S. in the ten years of fighting in Afghanistan.

According to the report, the SEALS had been called in to reinforce other troops already in combat.  Just before landing, Taliban fighters hiding in a building fired rocket propelled grenades.  The rear blades were hit.  The helicopter crashed in seconds.

The report concludes there was no wrongdoing. But the mission may not have been optimally planned, and changes are being instituted for future missions.  Investigators found that three hours into the combat operations the Taliban had key advantages.  Those advantages made the helicopter, flying in to help the embattled troops, more vulnerable. FULL POST

BREAKING: Clinton lands in Kabul
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton waves upon her departure from Oman en route to Afgahistan
October 19th, 2011
01:04 PM ET

BREAKING: Clinton lands in Kabul

From Pool Producer Elise Labott in Kabul, Afghanistan.

According to a senior State Department official, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai on the 20th.

“I’m assuming it will be a one on one or a smaller meeting with her and him, that will then go into a dinner with a number of his officials," the official told journalists traveling with Clinton.

“The next day there will be a civil society event, and there will probably be another event that we’re working on in terms of pulling together the ethnic constituencies in Afghanistan so she can have that kind of event, post-Rabbani obviously.”

“The objective of the trip is the Secretary wants to show our commitment to Afghanistan and she’s going to be following up on or continuing the diplomatic effort that she announced in February of this year in terms of both transition, standing with Afghanistan and working on a political resolution to the underlying conflict. And she’ll be talking about various efforts that are going on to implement what she laid out in February.”

Clinton will be talking about our strategic arrangements with Afghanistan the relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Clinton • Diplomacy • Foreign Policy • Kabul • Karzai • NATO • Pakistan
October 19th, 2011
11:00 AM ET

U.S. sending new envoy to reengage North Koreans

U.S. Government Photo

By Sr. State Department Producer Elise Labott and National Security Producer Jamie Crawford

The U.S. announced a new envoy to engage North Korea in renewed talks about its nuclear weapons program that are set to resume next week in Geneva. The State Department announced that Glyn Davies, U.S. ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, will replace Special Representative for North Korea Policy Ambassador Stephen Bosworth. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asked Davies to pick up the portfolio according to a senior State Department official briefing reporters traveling with Clinton to Afghanistan.

Bosworth will formally step down from his position following the meetings October 24-25 in Geneva.

Clinton sees the "new Libya"
October 19th, 2011
07:33 AM ET

Clinton sees the "new Libya"

From CNN Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jill Dougherty

As she walked through the corridors of the Tripoli Medical Center Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saw the stark reality of what Libya needs after nearly eight months of heavy fighting: in the rooms she visited were young men with severe injuries to their legs.

Doctors are fighting to save their limbs but for one patient the battle is over; his leg has been amputated. The physician told Clinton that dozens of men urgently need to be flown outside Libya to other countries that can provide specialized care but red tape is preventing their getting treatment quickly enough to avoid amputation.

A program the Secretary announced in Libya could help relocate some of them to the U.S. That program also will forge partnerships with the private sector to provide spare parts for medical equipment and systems for tracking patient progress.

But the challenge in Libya, politically as well as on a humanitarian level, is enormous. Just before her meeting earlier in the day with the National Transitional Council’s Prime Minister, Mahmoud Jibril, Clinton told him “Now the hard work begins!”

The Secretary of State’s visit to Libya was partly a pat on the back for the bravery Libyans showed during their Revolution, partly a push for the country’s political leadership to make good on its promise for a democratic transition. FULL POST

Filed under: Africa • Clinton • Libya
The drone with a death wish
October 19th, 2011
06:00 AM ET

The drone with a death wish

By CNN National Security Producer Jennifer Rizzo

There's a new drone on the block with a new mission - a suicide mission.

Part missile, part intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance tool, the new drone locks on its enemy target and crashes into it, delivering a lethal attack.

Some are dubbing it the "kamikaze drone." The drone's maker, AeroVironment, is calling it the Switchblade. The Army awarded the company a contract worth almost $5 million for the system, according to a news release on the company's website.

The Army purchased "a limited quantity" of the Switchblade to "support an urgent operation," according to an Army statement.

The Army would not give any further details on quantities, fielding locations, dates and units involved "to protect operational security."  Bloomberg News reported Wednesday the Army had already used the drone against Taliban targets in Afghanistan.

"The Switchblade is designed to provide the warfighter with a 'magic bullet,'" the website says.

The unmanned aerial vehicle UAV can be launched from a tube small enough to be carried in a backpack, according to the company. Like a Switchblade knife, once removed from its container the drone's wings extend from its body. FULL POST

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Filed under: DARPA • drones • Military • weapons