04 21 2015
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  • When should we use military to enforce US goals? NASHUA, N.H. (AP) — Rand Paul lashed out Saturday at military hawks in the Republican Party in a clash over foreign policy dividing the packed GOP presidential field. Paul, a first-term senator from Kentucky who favors a smaller U.S. footprint in the world, said that some of his Republican colleagues would do more harm in international affairs than would leading Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton. "The other Republicans will criticize the president and Hillary Clinton for their foreign policy, but they would just have done the same thing — just 10 times over," Paul said on the closing day of a New Hampshire GOP conference that brought about 20 presidential prospects to the first-in-the-nation primary state. "There's a group of folks in our party who would have troops in six countries right now, maybe more," Paul said. Foreign policy looms large in the presidential race as the U.S. struggles to resolve diplomatic and military conflicts across the globe. The GOP presidential class regularly rails against President Barack Obama's leadership on the world stage, yet some would-be contenders have yet to articulate their own positions, while others offered sharply different visions. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, whose brother, President George W. Bush, authorized the 2003 invasion of Iraq, declined to say whether he would have done anything different then. Yet Jeb Bush acknowledged a shift in his party against new military action abroad. "Our enemies need to fear us, a little bit, just enough for them to deter the actions that create insecurity," Bush said earlier in the conference. He said restoring alliances "that will create less likelihood of America's boots on the ground has to be the priority, the first priority of the next president." The GOP's hawks were well represented at the event, led by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who has limited foreign policy experience but articulated a muscular vision during his Saturday keynote address. Walker said the threats posed by radical Islamic terrorism won't be handled simply with "a couple bombings." "We're not going to wait till they bring the fight to us," Walker said. "We're going to bring the fight to them and fight on their soil." South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham addressed the question of putting U.S. troops directly in the battle against the Islamic State group militants by saying there is only one way to defeat the militants: "You go over there and you fight them so they don't come here." Texas Sen. Ted Cruz suggested an aggressive approach as well. "The way to defeat ISIS is a simple and clear military objective," he said. "We will destroy them." Businesswoman Carly Fiorina offered a similar outlook. "The world is a more dangerous and more tragic place when America is not leading. And America has not led for quite some time," she said. Under Obama, a U.S.-led coalition of Western and Arab countries is conducting regular airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. also has hundreds of military advisers in Iraq helping Iraqi security forces plan operations against the Islamic State, which occupies large chunks of northern and western Iraq. Paul didn't totally reject the use of military force, noting that he recently introduced a declaration of war against the Islamic State group. But in an interview with The Associated Press, he emphasized the importance of diplomacy. He singled out Russia and China, which have complicated relationships with the U.S., as countries that could contribute to U.S. foreign policy interests. "I think the Russians and the Chinese have great potential to help make the world a better place," he said. "I don't say that naively that they're going to, but they have the potential to." Paul suggested the Russians could help by getting Syrian President Bashar Assad to leave power. "Maybe he goes to Russia," Paul said. Despite tensions with the U.S., Russia and China negotiated alongside Washington in nuclear talks with Iran. Paul has said he is keeping an open mind about the nuclear negotiations. "The people who already are very skeptical, very doubtful, may not like the president for partisan reasons," he said, and "just may want war instead of negotiations."
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KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Taliban militants attacked a hotel near Kabul on Friday and seized dozens of hostages, sparking a fierce gunbattle with Afghan and NATO troops that left 26 people dead, authorities said.

The standoff, which lasted 11 hours, ended with the deaths of all seven militants, police said. The militants killed 15 civilians, a police officer and three security guards, Kabul police Chief Mohammad Ayoub Salangi said.

By the end of the siege, police had rescued all the remaining 50 civilians held hostage in the hotel, according to Salangi.

Earlier, he had said there were five militants but revised the number as more details emerged.

Police said they found burqas in the vehicle the attackers used to bring in explosives to the hotel, an indication that some were dressed as women. A burqa is an outer garment worn by Muslim women to cover their bodies.

Terrified civilians fled when the gunmen struck the Spozhmai hotel about midnight Thursday, with some jumping into a nearby lake to avoid the bloodshed. The hotel was hosting an outdoor dinner that drew a large number of guests when the attack occurred.

Afghan forces had moved slowly overnight to avoid civilian casualties.

"We did not take any action in the dark because of the risk to civilians," Salangi said.

NATO's International Security Assistance Force said there was no immediate indication of coalition casualties.

In a written statement, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul praised the professionalism of Afghan forces and condemned the attack as "the latest in the insurgents' murderous campaign against innocent Afghan civilians, especially women and children."

Pentagon spokesman George Little said the strike "bears all the hallmarks" of the Haqqani network. The network, a movement with close ties to the Taliban and based in neighboring Pakistan, is one of the militant groups fueling the insurgency in Afghanistan.

"The Haqqani network, which has the backing of elements within the Pakistani security establishment, is one of Afghanistan's most experienced and sophisticated insurgent organizations," the Institute for the Study of War said. "Although the Haqqani network is officially subsumed under the larger Taliban umbrella organization led by Mullah Omar and his Quetta Shura Taliban, the Haqqanis maintain distinct command and control, and lines of operations."

The attack follows recent strikes aimed at coalition troops and Afghan security forces. Bombings in two eastern provinces Wednesday killed at least 29 people, including three American soldiers.

It also comes nearly a year after an insurgent attack on Kabul's Hotel Inter-Continental killed nine attackers and 12 others.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the hotel attack targeted Westerners.

Attackers are armed with suicide vests, rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine guns, he said in an e-mail while the siege was under way.

"Every night people come here for different types of debauchery, but on Thursday night, the number increases, including foreigners who come here and they hold anti-Islamic ceremonies," Mujahid said. "Tonight, according to our information, a number of ISAF and embassy diplomats from foreign countries have been invited by some senior Kabul administration officials and are now under attack."

He said the Taliban fought government forces outside the hotel and had killed tens of government officials and foreigners, but the insurgents regularly inflate casualty figures.

The Taliban, an Islamic fundamentalist militia, once ruled most of the country.

CNN's Masoud Popalzai contributed to this report.

 

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