U.S. Policy Toward Afghanistan and Pakistan

Posted by Richard Boucher
November 26, 2008

Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Richard Boucher shares his thoughts on U.S. policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan and the U.S. Presidential transition.ASSISTANT SECRETARY BOUCHER: We’re in an interesting time right now. We’re trying to do everything we can in Afghanistan and Pakistan especially to help solidify the situation and make it better. But we’re also trying to get the new administration ready, so I’ve started talking to the transition folks who are coming in, gathering a lot of information from us even while the policy reviews of the existing administration are going on.

What we’ve concentrated on in those policy reviews is what can we do now, what can we do in the next few months to make a better foundation for next year. And we’re working on things like getting more U.S. troops out to Afghanistan, getting more U.S. civilians out to Afghanistan, helping the Afghans build government at the local level – the things that really provide a base for stability and a base for success. So a lot of those things we can do in the next few months. We can get them going. We can get them settled. We can get the budgets together. And then the new administration can pick up and decide how they want to take it.

Our motto right now is, “Do more and do better.” So “do more” means getting those extra resources out there, but “do better” also means using them in a way that helps both governance at the local level so that Afghans, so that ordinary people, get security, get justice, get health and education and what they expect from their government – roads, electricity.

There’s actually a lot of good things going on in Afghanistan, but there’s also a lot more insecurity because of the bombs that have been going off, because the Taliban have changed their tactics to set off bombs. So we’ve got to deal with that. And we’ve got to deal with that by sort of putting a web of government on top of the bombs and smothering the ability of the Taliban to do that. That’s going to be the effort that we’re undertaking now.

On the Pakistani side, we’ve seen a lot more determination and pressure on the Taliban and the militants that are up there in the tribal areas. The Paks have undertaken some really serious military operations. But again, we’re looking at how do we help them train up better forces? How do we help them build better institutions of government in those areas and more generally around Pakistan? How do we help them get through their, I’d say, triple crises right now? One is the economic crisis that they’ve got to get over. Two is the security crisis with militants trying to attack and set off bombs in Pakistan. They’ve got to fight that. And the third is the political crisis, meaning that they’re coming through a civilian transition, they’re now in a democratic governance period; how do we solidify that democratic governance for them?

So it’s become a very interesting period for all of us. I like transitions. I like transitions because you look at what you’re doing, you try to examine how to do it better, you try to explain it to the new people coming in, and you try to give them thoughts and options about how they can take things forward and sort of merge their thinking with your thinking as we go forward.



New York, USA
November 26, 2008

Ron in New York writes:

Truth-telling is the 1st step toward a rational policy for the USG and the Tali-Stans. Military approaches to the Opium-based corrupt Afghan political economy, will fail and metastacize incursions/insurgencies into Pakistan. The incoming administration knows this, and hopes the hole is not deepened in the final month.

Virginia, USA
November 26, 2008

Donald in Virginia writes:

26 November 08

After this latest attacks in India, makes you wonder if Pakistan was behind it?

Strategy needs to be changed!

We don't need more troops on the ground in Afghanistan or Pakistan. What our country should be doing is winding up the bombers as use my suggestion earlier. The taliban cannot walk and chew gum if there being bombarded with Sand!

What else could be put in sand bags? Ohhhhh I'm sure our Military can think of a few things to add!

I might be right about this...You have tried the methods of bullets, motars, missiles, and to think how much lead has already been fired in those countries.

My philosphy on tactics is simple: You bury your enemy and he or she cannot return fire!

If Washington continues spending mutliple of billions of dollars on these two countries it will only be in vein. My simple idea would be cost effective. A 25 or 50 pound sand bag at 25,000 feet would have those taliban rebels running for higher ground! Imagine if you used four corners of the country and just sand bag the heck out it! How much would it cost for sand bags to be filled, plus you would never run out of sand in the desert.

The other part of my suggestion would be to introduce pigs to the area. Run pigs through the country of Afghanistan. If a pig walked over an IED okay our forces are having bacon for lunch. It's better a pig walking over the IED'S then say our soldiers who are in harms way!

Since Muslims don't like pigs, they are a dirty animal. I would also mention the sounds of pigs should be broadcasted through the entire country of Afghanistan. This should be good propaganda to keep the Taliban moving towards being captured!

Besides I know it might be poltically incorrect, but then war is war and our side needs to use all tools to ensure we bring our men and women home safe!

Best Regards,


United States
November 28, 2008

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

How do we solidify democratic governance for them?

What if the people of Afghanistan don't want western-style democracy?

If they prefer tribal leadership over western-style democracy because it gives them local control, direct communication with their leaders, and direct input into government policies, why should that choice be any of our business?

Why would Afghanistan want to be ruled by an unresponsive federal bureaucracy that has little or no accountability to the average citizen?

Did Afghanistan's derivatives bring financial collapse to the western world?

Did Iraq's leaders remove trillions of dollars from the national treasury against the will of the people in order to rescue fools and their bankrupt corporations?

Why would these nations listen to advice from a banana-republic government such as ours -- a government that refuses to even check that our next president is an natural-born American?

Democracy isn't a "one size fits all" solution to the world's problems, particularly when the people who run the political machine haven't read the operating instructions.


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