The Administration's Strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
December 3, 2009

Secretary Clinton spoke before the the Senate Armed Services Committee on the Administration’s strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Secretary said:

"Yesterday, President Obama presented the Administration’s strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Today, Secretary Gates, Admiral Mullen, and I will all be providing you with additional details. But let me speak briefly at a more personal level about why we are making this commitment. Simply put, among a range of difficult choices, this is the best way to protect our nation now and in the future.

The extremists we are fighting in Afghanistan and Pakistan have attacked us and our allies before. If we allow them access to the very same safe havens they used before 2001, they will have a greater capacity to regroup and attack again. They could drag an entire region into chaos. Our civilian and military leaders in Afghanistan have reported that the situation is serious and worsening, and we agree.

In the aftermath of September 11th, I grieved with sons, daughters, husbands, wives whose loved ones were murdered. It was an attack on our country and an attack on the constituents I then represented. I witnessed the tragic consequences in the lives of thousands of innocent families and the damage done to our economy and our sense of security. So I feel a personal responsibility to help protect our nation from such violence.

The case for action against al-Qaida and its allies has always been clear, but the United States course of action over the last eight years has not. The fog of another war obscured our focus. And while our attention was focused elsewhere, the Taliban gained momentum in Afghanistan. And the extremist threat grew in Pakistan – a country with 175 million people, a nuclear arsenal, and more than its share of challenges.

It was against this backdrop that President Obama called for a careful, thorough review of the strategy. I was proud to be a part of that process, which questioned every assumption and took nothing for granted. And our objectives are clear: We will work with the Afghan and Pakistani governments to eliminate safe havens for those plotting to attack against us, our allies, and our interests; we will help to stabilize a region that we believe is fundamental to our national security; and we will develop a long-term, sustainable relationship with both Afghanistan and Pakistan so that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past. The duration of our military presence is not open-ended, but our civilian commitment must continue even as our troops begin eventually to come home.

Accomplishing this mission and ensuring the safety of the American people will not be easy. It will mean sending not only more troops, but more civilians and more assistance to Afghanistan, and significantly expanding our civilian efforts in Pakistan.

The men and women carrying out this military-civilian mission are not members of a list or items on a PowerPoint slide. They are our friends and neighbors, our sons and daughters, our brothers and sisters. And we will be asking them and the American people to make extraordinary sacrifices on behalf of our security. I want to assure this Committee that I know takes its oversight responsibility so seriously that we will do everything we can to make sure their sacrifices are honored and make our nation safer."Full Text

Read Secretary Clinton's opening remarks before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.



December 3, 2009

John in Canada writes:

The wholesome application of the civilian surge to AfPak will enhance ops for sure...they will need continued U.S. military security going forward in economic globalization and family/community building...Secretary Clinton approaches the situation on a proper war footing, and for all the right reasons we stick our nose into where we stick our human assets...we don't mind investing in your country and trying to make life better for your children, your whole family and your friends...we just need you to meet us halfway....and this would be my read on outreaching across the muslim world...people can respect each others beliefs in a common Creator, we don't all have to call Him anything but Hope.

Oregon, USA
December 3, 2009

Joseph in Oregon writes:

I disagree with the President's decision and with the overall strategy presented today. There are no good choices in Afghanistan, sending more troops will not resolve the conflict, in fact it will increase animosity against the U.S. and its NATO allies over the long term. Resolving the conflict in Afghanistan is not a military solution.

President Obama in his recent decision is pursuing the wrong strategy for bringing peace and stability in Afghanistan.

All that corruption and drama over the Afghani elections, where former President Karzai was reinstated as the prime minister and they are criticizing the Iranian elections here from last summer? The Karzai leadership is a fragile government, its effectiveness is questionable, its sphere of influence is limited -- limited in both the tribal regions of Afghanistan and in the mountainous tribal regions along Pakistan.

The administration should seek an immediate shift in strategy and in policy, from one of war waging in Afghanistan to a political solution, where the emphasis is placed on nation-building and with placing a renewed focus on the reconciliation process for restructuring of Afghani society. Having a perceived timeline to begin withdrawal, is favorable in conveying the urgency with stabilizing this region to the Afghani and Pakistani governments.

The Afghan people view the U.S. presence as an occupation, many civilians have been killed since the beginning of the conflict, it will be difficult for the U.S. and its allies to gain the support of the local tribal communities. Prime Minister Hamid Karzai, has little influence outside of Kabul, thus, we need to acknowledge the importance with engaging with the tribal leaders in an effort to establish a policy of long-term stability. The U.S. needs to engage in a meaningful dialogue with local tribal leaders and with the Taliban in all provinces, build their trust and place less of an emphasis for a U.S. and NATO long-term troop presence. Moreover, we need to engage, locally and diplomatically with the regional players, in the tribal regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan, seek an agreement or understanding with the Taliban and tribal leaders. These are Islamic countries, collectivistic societies.

United States
December 3, 2009

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

You are already repeating the mistakes of the past -- surely you remember how we "Vietnamized" the Vietnam War?

Holbrooke's idea, if it was his, was worthless then and it is worthless now. "Afghanistanization" presumes the Afghanistan people are complete morons who never had a government before and don't know what a policeman is, and don't know which end of a gun the bullet comes out of.

Well, now we are "Afghanistanizing" the war against the 10 or 20 Al-Qaida remaining, a few dozen former Taliban, and hundreds of home-grown insurgents. Which mistake of the past are we not doing? Yes, there is one - you haven't assassinated Karzai yet, as happened to President Diem.

As the local collaborators who help us now may well be considered to be traitors by some of their fellow citizens after we leave, we guarantee no peace in that country and more escapees to our own. Our sizable Vietnamese communities in America demonstrate how "Vietnamization backfired. The abandoned prayer rugs and Koran books near our Southern border show how well things went in Iraq.

Afghanistan was not much of a threat to America until the CIA decided to fund Osama bin Laden and his Islamic Revolutionaries. Was that Holbrooke's idea too?

The original mission after 9/11 was to get OBL, not stabilize the entire country, something that may not be possible even if we sent in 2 million troops to train a few thousand friendlies to be policemen.

Well, we did get our regime change, OBL has disappeared or died, Mullah Omar is probably happily munching burgers at McDonald's in Pakistan. The ongoing insurgency is likely a home-grown reaction to occupation, as it would be in any country occupied by foreign troops.

Clearly, Afghanistan's young men already know how to shoot, they have weapons, and they could train us in conducting an insurgency.

If shooting our guys is any indication, they are as able to protect themselves as they can be, without further training. They once had a government, after all, long before we invaded them.

If we would leave their country as quickly as we came, no doubt they could get used to the sudden loss of American targets.

We have to demonstrate that Afghanistan belongs to them, not us, by leaving them alone with it, and if that turns out badly, they can look in the mirror for someone to blame because they had the opportunity to shape their own history without us in the middle as an excuse for failure.

December 3, 2009

Robert in Germany writes:

No mentioning of America's allies, Germany e. g. - I doubt troop withdrawal will happen within 18 months. Why don't policicians call it Global War Against Terror any longer?

California, USA
December 3, 2009

Brian in California writes:

Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton,

Excellent testimony and I am secure with this plan for Afghanistan and Pakistan to make our country a more secure nation. Through you, I will have to support this mission and beyond.

God Bless you and your patriotism.

Florida, USA
December 3, 2009

Susan in Florida writes:

History has shown us that a nation must determine it's own destiny. If it does not, then it does not "own" it, and will resent, at best, the nation that has tried to "help". Vietnam was basically a civil war and whether we liked it or not had the right to work out their own history. It has done just that, and now we are buying goods from them! I do believe we are a country that wants to do what is right. However, and I have said this before, we must take into consideration the culture and history of the countries we involve ourselves in. Some situations seem like black holes. To me, Afghanistan/Pakistan are prime examples.

New Mexico, USA
December 4, 2009

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Susan in Florida, Hope you had a great feast over the holidays, and welcome back.

If I were to try to sum up the reason for most of the doubts about acheiving success, it is the disrespect for our efforts to improve the lives of Afghans shown by Afghans with "sticky fingers" (as Gates coined his description of the corruption going on).

As Gates rightly stated his preference to discuss the issue in closed hearing, as a matter of a soveriegn nation's dillema; Mr. Karzai's family problems, specificly his brother's involvement in the drug trade, is his alone to resolve.

It also represents one sure way he can offer the American public proof positive he's cleaning up his government's act.

It's never easy to dis-own family, but I think he's got no other choice but to offer his brother the following choices; To "get out of town, get busted, or get buried".

And to be fair, I don't think the situation will reflect badly on Mr. Karzai personally over the long term, unless he refuses to deal with it effectively in a timely manner.

No one is above the law in a democracy, and this will be a test of that premis.

It could be considered a "benchmark" for progress as well.

Tennessee, USA
December 4, 2009

Joe in Tennessee writes:

In 1999 Congress, Senate, DOS and Executive branch DID receive a report from the Navy War College as to the time both wars would take to accomplish basic stability: Iraq 2010, Afghanistan 2016 due to the narcotics and political structure. The political reasoning for not telling the general public is understandable, but this is a NEW AGE OF TRANSPARENCY correct? It is public information.

The only argumentation should be the methods of accomplishment, if stability is the overall objective and if it can be accomplished in Afghanistan, as it is not Iraq by any stretch of the imagination.

As I stated: anyone who wishes to understand how Syria will go with the fundamentalist aspects of Islam, then read : A God Who Hates: The Courageous Woman Who Inflamed the Muslim World Speaks Out Against the Evils of Islam Wafa Sultan.

The only question is: Are we simply putting of the inevitable at the cost of American lives?


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